No. 7 Illinois sweeps No. 9 Penn St.
Bartsch leads Illini with double-double in Big Ten victory
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Seventh-ranked Illinois swept ninth-ranked Penn State on Friday night inn Champaign in a battle of top-10 teams.
Illinois goes to 12-3 in the Big Ten and 22-3 overall. Penn State falls to 11-4 in the Big 10 and 18-7 overall.
Michelle Bartsch had 10 kills and 13 digs for Illinois. Liz McMahon added 10 kills for the Illini.
Deja McClendon led Penn State with 17 kills.
Illinois closed out the match hitting .340 with 42 kills, six aces, 50 digs and 3.0 team blocks. Penn State hit .248 against Illinois and recorded 45 kills, nine aces, 45 digs and 5.0 total team blocks.
The Nittany Lions got off to a great start in the first set with a 6-2 lead, which sent the Illini to the bench for an early timeout. Penn State continued to maintain the lead until midway through the frame when a 4-0 Illinois run had the Illini in the lead, 14-13. Penn State called a timeout and a kill from senior Katie Kabbes (Raleigh, N.C.) had the score tied at 14-14. A PSU service error put Illinois back in front and the Illini would maintain control for the remainder of the set. Penn State came within two four times before a 3-0 run put Illinois ahead by five, 23-18. The Nittany Lions scored three final points, two off Illinois service errors and one courtesy of a kill by freshman Aiyana Whitney (Norwood, N.J.), before the Illini won the set, 25-21.
Penn State took a 2-0 lead in set two, but a 7-1 Illinois run saw the Illini with a 7-3 advantage. Penn State called a timeout and closed the gap to three, 9-6, but a 5-2 Illinois run had the Illini with a six-point lead, 14-8. Penn State called another timeout and slowed Illinois enough to come within two, 18-16. Kills from sophomore Katie Slay, freshman Nia Grant, McClendon and Scott aided the Nittany Lions.
Illinois called a timeout, but a joint stuff by McClendon and Grant had the Lions within one, 18-17. A 3-1 Illinois run moved the Illini ahead by three, 21-18, but Penn State capitalized on one kill each from Hancock and Scott and two straight from Whitney to tie the set at 23-23. Illinois called a second timeout and a kill from Erin Johnson and a PSU error secured set two for the Illini, 25-23.
The third from started off close, but a 6-0 run by the Illini had Illinois leading by six, 10-4. The Illinois lead grew to seven, 13-6, before a 3-0 run brought Penn State within four, 13-9. The Nittany Lions continued to trail through the middle of the frame and called a timeout when trailing 18-12. McClendon pounded a kill and Scott tallied an ace, but an Illini kill prevented a Penn State run.
However, two more Penn State kills had the Lions within three, 19-16, and Illinois calling a timeout. Grant and Hancock teamed up for a block to bring Penn State within two, 19-17, but an Illinois kill put the Illini back up by three, 20-17. The teams traded points until a Slay kill and a Hancock ace moved Penn State back within two, 22-20, and Illinois heading to the bench. Scott and Slay followed the break with a block to make it a one-point set, 22-21.
McMahon moved Illinois back up by two, 23-21, but a Scott kill and a Illinois error had the score at 23 all. McMahon pushed the Illini back into the lead, 24-23, but McClendon kept the set alive with a kill. The score tied twice more before two consecutive Illinois kills closed out the third set for Illinois, 28-26.