Michelle Bartsch some big kills down the stretch for the victorious Illini.
Nov. 12, 2010
Columbus, Ohio - No. 9 Illinois improved to 21-4 overall and 13-2 in the Big Ten with a four-set victory over Ohio State (25-20, 25-17, 17-25, 27-25) in Columbus, setting up a showdown for first place on Saturday at second-place Penn State. The Nittany Lions, who won in three sets over Wisconsin on Friday, trail the Illini by one match with five to play in the season.
Illinois got 18 kills from Michelle Bartsch and 17 from Colleen Ward in the victory. Bartsch had a double-double with 11 digs to go along with a .317 attack percentage. Freshman Jazmine Orozco had 13 kills, including the match winner in the fourth set as the Illini came from behind to claim that set and the match.
"We stayed calm at the end and were very competitive throughout the match," said Illinois head coach Kevin Hambly. "I liked the way we played for long stretches of that match. We just need to cut down on those errors and keep serving tough. Our passing and offense in the first two sets was at as a high of a level that I've seen all year, but we've got to extend that until the end."
Setter Hillary Haen had 56 assists in leading Illinois to a .277 attack percentage. Haen did a nice job of involving the middles, which were effective. Senior middle blocker Johannah Bangert hit .667 with nine kills while sophomore middle Erin Johnson added seven kills
"I feel like our middles are unheralded with how well they have been playing," Hambly said. "Johannah played great and Erin had some big kills for us."
With Illinois needing a set to close out the match, it looked as if the Buckeyes were going to send it to a fifth, vaulting to leads of 18-16, 22-19 and 23-22 only to see Illinois come back to tie each time. Bartsch had three kills down the stretch after a 23-23 tie, including one to put the Illini up for good.
"Michelle got hot down the stretch," Hambly said. "She played smart and really was the reason we won that last set."
Illinois jumped out to an early lead behind a strong showing from Ward in the opening frame, as she racked up six kills on 11 swings with no errors. With the set knotted up at 12 apiece, the Illini grabbed the next three points and never looked back, maintaining the cushion for the remainder of the set. Orozco added four kills and Bartsch chipped in three to help the Orange and Blue hit .314 in the set.
The Illini controlled the second stanza the entire way while hitting a sizzling .419 and never trailing in the set. Bangert was perfect in the frame, connecting for kills on all four of her attempts.
The Buckeyes' offense turned it on in the third set, recording a .500 hitting percentage with only one hitting error.
Ohio State hit .261 for the match, paced by 13 kills apiece from Kelli Barhorst and Katie Dull.
Up Next: Illinois heads to University Park, Pa., for a showdown with second-place Penn State on Saturday at 5 p.m. CT. The match between the conference's top-two teams will be aired live on the Big Ten Network.