Colleen Ward led Illinois with 17 kills vs. Michigan.
Oct. 9, 2010
Ann Arbor, Mich. - Last season the then 12th-ranked Illini came into Ann Arbor and defeated then sixth-ranked Michigan. Saturday night it was Illinois who came into the match as the No. 6 team in the land and the No.18 Wolverines won, ending a four-game Illinois winning streak in the series. Michigan won the match 28-26, 25-19, 19-25, 26-24. In the process Michigan moves into a first-place tie with Illinois at 5-1 in the conference. Those teams will be tied with the winner of Sunday's Northwestern-Minnesota match in what is turning into a wild conference race.
"I thought we competed harder than we did last night," said Illinois head coach Kevin Hambly comparing it to a five-set victory on Friday at Michigan State. "We had some intensity and got after it, we just didn't execute."
Michigan (16-2 overall) got 19 kills from left-handed outside hitter Alex Hunt and 13 more from senior All-American setter Lexi Zimmerman, who hit .500.
Michigan won a pair of tight sets, the first and fourth with the team's splitting convincing sets in the middle.
Set one featured big performances by Hunt, who had eight kills in 17 swings (hitting .412) and Illinois junior Colleen Ward, who had eight kills in 13 swings (hitting .615) and came down to a few Illini hitting errors down the stretch. Illinois battled back from a 24-21 deficit to tie the score. A pair of kills from junior Laura DeBruler (12 kills) and an ace from Bonilla brought the Illini even. After splitting the next two points, Michelle Bartsch served an ace to give Illinois a 26-25 lead, but Michigan scored the final three points of the set to pull it out. Hunt and Zimmerman had kills down the stretch.
The Wolverines controlled the second set in extending the lead to two sets to none. The Wolverines had five blocks in the set, including two solos and one assists from Jennifer Cross.
Illinois (13-3 overall) got some inspired play in taking the third set. During that set, DeBruler ran into the officials stand, injuring her knee and did not return to the match. Her replacement, Jazmine Orozco, played the final set and a half and tallied seven kills, five digs and an ace. Illinois was leading 7-3 when DeBruler went down and the Illini extended that lead to 11-4 and 15-9 before eventually taking the set. Even when Michigan cut the deficit to 16-14, the Illini extended it back to four at 19-15. Michelle Bartsch had the first two points of the rally on a cross-court kill and a block assist with Nicole Kump.
Illinois nearly battled back in the fourth. Michigan led 16-10 and 18-11, but the Illini went on a 6-1 run to pull within 19-17. Michigan extended the lead to 23-20, but first Orozco, then Bartsch twice came through with big swings to bring Illinois even. The teams exchanged service errors, however, before Michigan's Molly Toon converted a kill to end the match.
"We dug a hole and worked back into it," Hambly said. "We gave ourselves a chance, but our execution wasn't there."
Ward finished the match with 17 kills while hitting. 304. Bartsch had 10 kills and nine digs. Jennifer Bonilla led the Illini with 27 digs. Hillary Haen had a double-double with 47 assists and 10 digs.
Illinois hosts Purdue and Indiana next weekend. Both the Boilermakers and Hoosiers swept home matches with Ohio State and Penn State this weekend.