The seventh-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (23-3, 10-1) avenged its only Big Ten loss of the year, by defeating Illinois (9-11, 3-8) 3-1 by scores of 24-30, 30-16, 30-26, 35-33 on Friday, Nov. 1 at Huff Hall. With the win Minnesota tied its best start in Big Ten play at 10-1 set in 2000.
“This was an evenly contested match, besides the second game,” said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert. “Illinois did not look like a team that was missing its top player (Lisa Argabright). They had a great game plan and made things very tough on us. We spread out our offense very well, which really helped us tonight.”
Illinois jumped out to a 1-0 lead by winning game one 30-24. With the two teams tied at three, Illinois scored six of the next seven points to go up 9-4. Illinois held that lead for the rest of the game. The Golden Gophers got as close as 22-20, but Illinois closed out the game by scoring eight of the last 12 points. Minnesota had 20 kills in the first game, but also committed eight errors. Illinois hit .360 as a team for the game.
Minnesota stormed back taking game two 30-16 to tie the match at one apiece. With the score tied at 10, the Golden Gophers ripped off 17 of the next 22 points to go up 27-15. Minnesota closed the game out with three of the last four points for the victory. The Golden Gophers limited Illinois to a -.308 hitting percentage, and hit .471. Minnesota outblocked Illinois 8.0-2.0 in the game.
The Golden Gophers won game three 30-26 to go up 2-1 in the match. Minnesota trailed 18-15, but went on a 9-2 run to go up 24-20. The Golden Gophers held the lead for the rest of the way enroute to taking game three. Erin Martin (Ames, Iowa) paced Minnesota with five kills in the game.
Minnesota fought off two game points to defeat Illinois 35-33 in game four to claim the match. Illinois had an 18-15 lead, but Minnesota scored 10 of the next 15 points to go up 25-22. Illinois fought back to tied the game at 26. The two teams tied seven times after that point, before Martin had the last two kills to finish the match.
Trisha Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) had 16 kills and five blocks on the night. Cassie Busse (Prior Lake, Minn.) finished with 13 kills, a career-high nine blocks and eight digs, nearly missing a triple-double. Martin had 15 kills and tied a career-high with five service aces, while Bethany Brafford (Mansfield, Ohio) had 11 kills and nine blocks. Lindsey Vander Well (Prinsburg, Minn.) had 53 assists, five blocks and five digs.
Minnesota outhit Illinois .321 to .152. The Golden Gophers also outblocked Illinois 19 to 11. Minnesota tied a school record for most straight wins away from home to start the season with their 13th tonight.
Illinois was led by Sue Webber who had 16 kills on the match.
Minnesota will wrap up a four-match roadswing when it takes on Purdue on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m.