Junior Michelle Bartsch tied fellow junior Colleen Ward for the match-high in kills with 14.
Oct. 23, 2010
IOWA CITY, Iowa - No. 6 Illinois came away from a tough Big Ten road trip unscathed after sweeping Iowa (6-13 overall, 1-9 Big Ten) on Saturday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena (25-23, 26-24, 25-18). After grinding out a five-set win at Minnesota the night before, the Illini maintained first place in the Big Ten and improved to 9-1 in the conference, matching their best start in the Big Ten since 1992. Juniors Michelle Bartsch and Colleen Ward led the way with 14 kills apiece, as the Illini won their fourth in a row to move to 17-3 overall.
"It was a long weekend, but we are happy to come away 2-0," head coach Kevin Hambly said. "I would have liked to see us play a little better with some more energy and discipline tonight, but I'll take the sweep on the road."
Illinois went down 10-5 early on in the first set, but clawed back to keep it close against the Hawkeyes and turned it on down the stretch. The Illini took six of the last nine points to come away with the first set win behind six kills from Ward, who hit .400 in the frame. As a team, the Orange and Blue hit .297 in the stanza and held Iowa to a .147 hitting percentage. Senior Nicole Kump, who filled in for a resting Erin Johnson, started off strong with three kills on three swings to open the match.
The second set ended up being a deuce game again, with the Illini coming out on top as both teams struggled offensively. Bartsch paced the Illini attack with six kills, but Illinois only hit .073 in the stanza. The Hawkeyes, who only hit .075, had a set point opportunity at 24-23, but a costly service error tied the set for the 14th time in the frame at 24 all. A kill by freshman Jazmine Orozco was followed up by a solid kill by Bartsch to close out the set.
"Michelle really took advantage of her matchup tonight," Hambly said. "She was just hitting over the top of her, and Hillary kept going to her at big times. Her swing to end second set was one of the best I have seen from her all year."
The Illini jumped on the Hawkeyes right away after the break, opening the third set with a 6-2 lead. Iowa got back within one at 6-5, but that was as close as they would get, as the Illini pulled away and easily wrapped up the final set. Illinois hit .263 for the frame behind six kills from Ward and four from Bartsch to complete the sweep.
Both teams had five blocks, but the Illini held the advantage in hitting percentage (.207 to .103), digs (52-45) and assists (43-28). Senior Johannah Bangert and Orozco tallied seven kills each, while senior Hillary Haen notched her first solo block of the year and ran the Illinois offense with 32 assists.
"Hillary did a nice job distributing the ball and taking advantage of some of the matchup problems they had," Hambly said.
Up Next: Illinois returns to Huff Hall on Friday, Oct. 29 for a showdown with second-place Michigan at 7 p.m. The Illini will host Michigan State the following night at the same time.