No. 1 Illinois downs No. 12 Purdue
Roundup: No. 7 Nebraska, No. 9 Penn State win top-25 matches
A standing-room-only crowd of 4,261 jammed Huff Hall, the second largest volleyball crowd in the building's history, to watch Illinois hold off 12th-ranked Purdue 26-24, 25-20, 23-25, 25-23.
Illinois moves to 15-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten ahead of trips to No. 24 Ohio State and No. 9 Penn State next weekend. Purdue falls to 14-1, 3-1 in the league.
"It's like having a seventh person out on the court," junior setter Annie Luhrsen said of the capacity crowd. "It gives us an advantage in a lot of ways and it's such a positive atmosphere. Volleyball is a game of energy and it's all about who has more of it. (The crowd) helps us win and keep moving forward. It really made a difference tonight."
For Illinois head coach Kevin Hambly, it's all a step in the process of establishing the sport as a cornerstone on campus.
"For people to believe that this sport has value is huge," Hambly said. " It's exciting because I feel like we have a good product here and these kids are working their hearts out. The staff is working hard to put out a good product and I hope people had fun tonight."
Purdue outhit the Illini .191-.168, but the Illini defense was crucial in pushing through. Illinois out-blocked the Boilers 11-8 and committed six fewer service errors (13-7). Finding the difference between the two teams really was like splitting hairs.
Michelle Bartsch was equally strong defensively as offensively, using a fist dig to set up a Colleen Ward kill in the most memorable point of the night. Bartsch, a senior All-American, finished with 15 kills, 15 digs and one solo block on a ball down the line. Ward had 14 kills and 17 digs and sophomore libero Jennifer Beltran had one of her best matches as an Illini with 26 digs.
Junior Annie Luhrsen (44 assists) directed a multiple threat offense. Junior Erin Johnson had 11 kills and hit .333 to go along with five blocks. Freshman Liz McMahon's presence was felt as well, both on offense (nine kills) and defense (five digs).
"I thought Annie did a great job of getting the ball to our hitters tonight," Ward said. "She put up a nice high ball so it so it was a lot easier for us to attack different shots."
Purdue's Ariel Turner got better as the match went on, pacing all players with 20 kills to go along with 12 digs. Tiffany Fisher had just two attack errors and 16 kills in 24 swings for a formidable .583 attack percentage. That duo established itself early as the Boilers led nearly start to finish in set one.
That's when the partisan crowd came into play, seemingly willing Illinois to its first lead at 24-23 when Beltran served an ace and lifting Michelle Bartsch to a pair of kills to finish off the set.
The Illini defense frustrated Purdue in the second set, forcing the Boilermakers to hit just -.024 as the Illini came up with four blocks and a big ace from Ward. Illinois took leads of 16-11, 21-15 and 23-17 before finishing off the set.
As much as Illinois pushed for set one, Purdue did likewise in the third. A Bartsch ace late in the set gave Illinois a 23-22 lead and got the Illini within two points of the match, but a pair of Illini attack errors and a Catherine Rebarchak kill sent the match in the a fourth set. Purdue once again established its offense with Fisher and Turner to hit .267 for the set.
Both teams returned to their hot hands in the fourth set. Bartsch and Ward combined for 30 of the Illini's 46 swings in the set, tallying five kills apiece, while Turner had 23 of her match-high 72 swings in the fourth set, amassing seven kills. In the end, defensive specialist Rachel Feldman made some big saves and sophomore Jazmine Orozco, who hadn't played the entire match, came in to serve the final two points. With the set tied at 23, Orozco served tough, leading to a pair of blocks for points, with sophomore Anna Dorn (five blocks) in on both.
"It was two teams on both sides of the net that wanted to win," Hambly concluded. "Neither team wanted to let anything hit the floor. We aren't going to block every ball and we aren't going to shut everyone down. We are going to be a grind it out team and try to figure out a way to win. That's what we did tonight."
No. 4 Cal 3, Arizona State 1
BERKELEY - No. 4 California earned itself a 3-1 victory against Arizona State on Saturday evening at Haas Pavilion, where the Golden Bears remain undefeated. Christina Higgins and Tarah Murrey both put up 16 kills to lead Cal to victory - 25-19, 25-23, 18-25 and 25-15.
With its second conference victory in as many days, the Bears improve to 15-2 overall and 5-2 in the Pac-12 while the Sun Devils are still winless in conference play at 0-6 and fall to 4-11 overall.
Overall, the Bears out hit the Sun Devils, .325-.177. Tarah Murrey led the Bears with more than two attempts by hitting .351 (16k, 3e, 37att). Both Shannon Hawari and Correy Johnson chipped in seven kills apiece to Cal's total of 57. Along with Murrey, Christina Higgins notched an impressive 16 kills - a new career high.
No. 7 Nebraska 3, No. 17 Michigan 0
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Nebraska (11-1, 4-0) closed out its first weekend of conference play on the road with a 3-0 (25-17, 26-24, 25-16) sweep of Michigan on Saturday night. The Huskers stayed undefeated in the conference after beating both Michigan State and Michigan this weekend.
Morgan Broekhuis led all Huskers in the match with 13 kills. Brooke Delano tallied nine kills as Gina Mancuso had seven of her own. Lauren Cook tabbed 37 assists and Lara Dykstra had 12 digs defensively for Nebraska.
The Huskers hit .268 for the match and held the Wolverines to a .157 hitting percentage. Nebraska saw Michigan commit 23 errors.
In the first set the Huskers went up 4-1 early and kept that lead until Michigan tied it up at nine. NU then took at 13-10 lead against Michigan before taking their biggest lead of the match at 16-10. Nebraska then stretched its lead to 21-15 before eventually taking the first set 25-17 and leading the match 1-0.
Broekhuis led NU in the first set with five kills on 10 attacks. Mancuso and Delano each had four kills, while Cook had 11 assists. The Huskers hit .310 as a team, and held Michigan to a .103 hitting percentage for the set.
No. 3 Washington 3, Oregon State 0
SEATTLE - Wins rarely come easily in the Pac-12 conference, and one night after the third-ranked Huskies posted one of their best wins of the season, Washington had to fight off a game Oregon State squad and some rough patches in its own play, but still came away with a 3-0 victory. The 26-16, 25-17, 27-25 victory came in front of 2,486 fans at Alaska Airlines Arena, and was UW's fifth-consecutive win in Pac-12 play.
The Huskies were not quite at their level from Friday, where they beat 15th-ranked Oregon in straight sets, but they still did not drop a set. A season-high 26 digs from sophomore libero Jenna Orlandini helped the Huskies (13-1, 5-1 Pac-12) hold Oregon State (11-5, 3-3 Pac-12) to just .071 on offense, while UW hit .191. Kylin Muñoz led the offense with 10 kills, and senior Lauren Barfield had seven kills while hitting .538 with five block assists. Fellow senior Bianca Rowland also had seven kills and seven blocks, and freshman Summer Ross had a strong all-around night with six kills, hitting .294, and adding 12 digs and six block assists.
No. 9 Penn State 3, No. 10 Minnesota 0
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State out-blocked Minnesota on their way to a 3-0 (25-15, 26-24, 25-15) sweep. Penn State improved to 10-4 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten action.
Sophomore Ariel Scott led the team with 14 kills, while classmate Katie Slay was second on the team with nine kills. Sophomore Micha Hancock totaled 29 assists and was second on the team with eight digs. Sophomore Maddie Martin posted a career-high 10 digs to lead the Nittany Lions in the back row, while Scott had a career-best six total blocks. Slay led the team at the net with seven blocks and freshman Nia Grant also put up six.
Penn State out-hit, out-served and out-blocked the Gophers. The Lions totaled 40 kills on .344 hitting, five aces, 41 digs and 14.5 total team blocks. Minnesota closed out the night hitting .143 with 37 kills, 41 digs and 4.0 team blocks.
The first set started out close until back-to-back errors moved Penn State ahead by three, 9-6. The Gophers came within one, 9-8, before a 4-0 Penn State run had the Lions up by five, 13-8. After a Minnesota timeout, Penn State’s lead continued to grow as a 5-2 run pushed Penn State up by seven, 18-11. The Gophers called a second time out, but it failed to slow the Lions. Two kills from Hancock, one from Scott and two Longo aces helped propel Penn State to a 25-15 first set win.