WilliamsThe second-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (18-2, 7-1) defeated No. 23 Illinois (13-4, 5-3) in four games by scores 30-22, 30-28, 28-30, 30- 16 in front of a school-record crowd of 10,927 at Williams Arena on Saturday, Oct. 16. The 10,927 fans made it the highest-attended volleyball match in the nation this year.
The 10,927 fans also broke a 14-year old school record of 6,046 set on Sept. 28, 1990 in Williams at a Minnesota-Purdue match.
"It was great to get a crowd like that tonight," said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert. "It was a great atmosphere, and we had a lot of fun playing in front of that crowd tonight. Illinois was playing as well as anyone in our conference offensively coming into tonight, and we did a pretty good job of slowing them down tonight."
Minnesota has four players with double-figure kills on the night. Erin Martin (Ames, Iowa) led the way with 15 kills. Kelly Bowman (Maple Grove, Minn.), Trisha Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) and Jessica Byrnes a> (Minnetonka, Minn.) all had 11 kills on the night. Byrnes hit .333 (11-3-24) on the night for the Golden Gophers. Bowman also had 22 assists and eight digs.
Lindsey Taatjes (Prinsburg, Minn.) finished with 22 digs, 27 assists and four kills. Paula Gentil (Forteleaza Ceara', Brazil) had a match-high 27 digs, while Marci Peniata (Plymouth, Minn.) had 10 digs. Meredith Nelson< /a> (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) also had eight kills and five blocks for the match.
"It was so great to see all that maroon and gold out there in the crowd," said Martin. "We really enjoyed playing in front of the crowd tonight. It was a great experience to go out there in front of that many people and get a win in a tough, hard-fought match with a good Illinois team."
Illinois jumped out to an early 8-5 lead in game one, but Minnesota responded with seven of the next nine points to take a 12-10 lead. Illinois came back with five of the next seven points to tie the score at 15. Minnesota scored the next three points to go ahead 18-15, but Illinois pulled back to 19- 18 with the three of the next four points. Martin had a kill and Meredith Nelson< /a> (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) followed with a solo block to go ahead 22-19. The Golden Gophers closed out a 5-1 run with the next three points to make it 25- 20. Illinois closed it to 25-21, but Minnesota rattled off five of the last six points to close out the game at 30-22.
Minnesota held Illinois to a .000 hitting percentage in game one. The Golden Gophers also outblocked Illinois 3.0-to-0.0 in the game. Bowman led the way in the game with four kills in six swings. Taatjes also had a game- high nine digs for Minnesota.
In game two, Minnesota jumped out to an early 8-6 lead, but Illinois scored five of the next seven points to move ahead 11-10. The Golden Gophers reclaimed the lead at 12-11, but Illinois scored six of the next eight points to move ahead 17-14. Minnesota answered with seven of the next nine points to take a 21-19 lead. Illinois cut the lead to 23-22, and followed by rattling off the next three points to take a 25-23 lead. Illinois maintained that lead at 28-26. However, Minnesota closed out the game with the final four points to take game two 30-28.
Minnesota jumped out to an early 7-4 lead in game three, but Illinois scored seven of the next 11 points to tie the score at 11. The Golden Gophers scored four of the next five points, paced by a pair of kills from Byrnes, to move ahead 15-12. Illinois cut the lead to 16-15 with three of the next four points. Minnesota moved ahead 18-16, but Illinois scored the next two points to tie it 18. The two teams exchanged the next eight points, and were tied at 22. Byrnes put down and then combined on a block with Bratford to put Minnesota up 24-22. Illinois scored seven of the next 10 points to get game point at 29-27. Nelson put down a kill to cut it to 29-28, but Illinois closed it out at 30-28.
The third game loss snapped a string of 19-straight games won at home dating back to the Northern Iowa match on Sept. 12.
Minnesota outhit Illinois .414 to .000 in game four to claim the game 30-16. Bratford had five kills to lead the way in the game, while Bowman had four.
The Golden Gophers outhit Illinois .234 to .144 for the match, and narrowly had the edge in kills at 60-to-58. Minnesota also outdug Illinois 83- to-67, and also had the advantage in blocks at 10.0-to-5.0.
Minnesota has now won 12-straight home matches dating back to Nov. 28, 2003. That is one shy of the record of 13 straight home wins set by the Golden Gophers last year. Minnesota has also won 25 of its last 26 home matches.
Illinois was led by Rachel VanMeter who had 22 kills and five digs on the night. Jessica Belter also had 13 kills for the match.
Minnesota will start a four-match road trip when it travels to Indiana on Friday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. The Golden Gophers will also travel to Purdue on Saturday, Oct. 23 at 8 p.m.