The 11th-ranked Minnesota Gophers volleyball team (12-6, 5-3) lost its third match in a row as it dropped a four-game decision to Illinois (12-6, 4-4) by scores of 30-25, 30-25, 18-30, 30-21 at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday, Oct. 13.
“We continue to do a good job holding teams to a low hitting percentage,” said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert. “Unfortunately we are struggling to generate offense of our own. Similar to last night we struggled with our ball control. That affected our offense, because it made it very hard to get into a flow tonight. I thought we did a good job bouncing back in the third game, and playing well. We just were not able to sustain that into the fourth game. I thought Illinois played very well tonight. They made some great plays and did a good job staying in rhythm for most of the match. Give them credit for coming in here and picking up a Big Ten road win, because those are hard to get anywhere you go in the conference.”
Freshman Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) had her first career double-double, as she had 10 kills and a career-high 11 blocks. The 11 blocks were the most by a Golden Gopher in a match since Kyla Roehrig (Papillion, Neb.) had 11 against St. Louis in the 2006 season opener on Sept. 1, 2006.
Senior middle blocker Jessy Jones (Naperville, Ill.) finished with nine kills and five blocks on the night. Junior Katie Vatterrodt (Bloomington, Ill.) was inserted as an outside hitter in game two, and hit .304 (9-2-23) with nine kills and four digs. Rachelle Hagerty (Defiance, Ohio) also had nine kills and two digs in the match.
Junior setter Rachel Hartmann (St. Charles, Ill.) had 39 assists, a career-high seven blocks and six digs. Christine Tan (Safety Harbor, Fla.) matched her career-high with 30 digs and had service ace. Freshman Hailey Cowles (Eden Prairie, Minn.) also finished with a career-high 17 digs and a service ace.
Illinois outhit Minnesota .143 to .123 on the night, and had 61 kills to the Golden Gophers’ 48. Minnesota has outblocked Illinois 17.5-to-8.5, and had 91 digs to 84.
Minnesota jumped out to a 15-11 lead in the first game, but Illinois answered with four of the next five points to cut it to 16-15. The two teams exchanged the next eight points to make it 20-19. Illinois delivered six of the next eight points to claim a 25-22 lead. The Golden Gophers cut the lead to 27-25, but Illinois finished the final three points of the game to move ahead 1-0 in the match.
Illinois outhit Minnesota .333 to .267, and had 19 kills to 11 for the Golden Gophers. Minnesota outblocked Illinois 3.0-to-1.0 in the game. Jones led the Golden Gophers with three kills in the game.
In the second game, Illinois jumped out to a 19-14 lead. Minnesota scored consecutive points to cut it to a three-point lead, but Illinois ripped off three straight points to push the lead out to 22-16. Dieter stopped the run with a kill, and after a pair of Illinois errors the Golden Gophers had trimmed the lead to 22-20.
Illinois distanced itself from Minnesota with a 5-0 run to take a 27-20 lead. Hagerty stopped the run with a kill, and Hartmann and Gibbemeyer combined on a block to make it 27-22. Illinois scored the next two points to make it game point at 29-22. Gibbemeyer followed with a kill and combined on a block with Hartmann to make it 29-24. After an Illinois error made it 29-25, Stephanie Alde and Vicki Brown combined on a block claim the second game.
In the second game, Illinois outhit Minnesota .138 to .038, and had 18 kills to 12 for the Golden Gophers. Jones led Minnesota with four kills in the game.
Minnesota jumped out to a 15-11 lead, and expanded with eight of the next nine points to go up 23-12. Illinois cut it to 24-15, but Hartmann and Roehrig had back-to-back kills to make it 26-15. Hagerty, Jones and Roehrig combined on a triple block, and Illinois followed with an error to give Minnesota a 28-15 lead. Illinois cut the lead to 28-17, but the Golden Gophers scored two of the final three points to close out the third game.
In the third game, Minnesota limited Illinois to a -.065 hitting percentage and hit .270. The Golden Gophers had 14 kills to 10, and outblocked Illinois 6.5-to-.0.0. Hagerty and Vatterrodt led the way with four kills apiece.
Minnesota jumped out to a 12-10 lead in the fourth game after a kill by Hagerty. Illinois fought back with a 5-0 run to go up 15-12. Vatterrodt answered with a kill, and Illinois committed an attack error to make it a one-point game at 15-14. At that point, Illinois seized control with a 10-0 run to go up 25-14. Minnesota cut the lead to 27-19 after a solo block by Roehrig, but Illinois went on to score three of the next five points to close out the match.
Freshman Laura DeBruler led Illinois with 24 kills and 14 digs, while Vicki Brown had 14 kills and six blocks. Setter Lizzie Bazzetta had had 49 assists, 11 digs, four kills and four blocks. Ashley Edinger had a team-high 20 digs for Illinois.
The win for Illinois snapped a snapped the Golden Gophers six-match winning streak in the series. It was also Illinois’ first win at Minnesota since 2002.
Minnesota will be back in action on Friday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. when it travels to Northwestern. The Golden Gophers will also face Michigan State on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 5:30 p.m. (CT). Both matches can be heard on gophersports.com.