Minnesota downs Illinois, 3-0
Sept. 23, 2006
Minnesota out-blocked Illinois, 11-4 and out-hit the Illini .231-.125. Lizzie Bazzetta totaled 41 aces, while Edinger paced three Illinois players with 18 digs. Meredith Nelson had 12 kills while Jessy Jones had eight block assists for the Gophers.
Games one and three were tough battles. After Minnesota (8-4, 2-0) took an early lead in game one, the Illini (9-3, 0-2) went in front 12-8. An ace from Meghan Macdonald and a block from Stephanie Alde and Vicki Brown provided the key points in an 8-2 Illinois run. The Illini took its last lead at 21-20 before the Gophers slowly edged in front. Minnesota had five blocks in the opening game to Illinois' one and the Illini committed five service errors. Turner helped Illinois close to within 26-25 by maneuvering her swing around the Gopher double block on two occasions. Turner had six kills in the opening game for Illinois while Brown had five kills in nine attacks primarily on the back sets from Bazzeta. Nelson's six kills paced Minnesota's attack as the Gophers out-hit the Illini .268-.152 in the opening game.
Illinois struggled in game two, making 11 hitting errors and five service errors of the 30 Minnesota points. Three of those hitting errors came via three Gopher blocks. Turner had three kills in the game for Illinois, but the Illini hit -.031 compared to .167 for Minnesota. Illinois was as close as 10-7, before Minnesota got things going, taking a commanding 20-12 lead and cruising from there.
The Illini fed off the boisterous crowd in game three. Illinois regrouped at the start of the game, bolting to a 7-2 lead. Amy Palash had an ace that hugged the back line and Meghan Macdonald had a well-placed ball in between Gopher defenders. After Illinois took early 9-5 and 16-13 leads, the Gophers seemingly had the game in hand up 26-23. Turner got the Illini rally started with a kill inside the Minnesota block. Alde swiped a ball off the block to make it 27-26 and several impressive Illinois digs kept a long rally alive before the Illini forced a Minnesota hitting error to tie the game at 27-27.
Bazzetta again fed the outside to Alde, who powered one home as Illinois went in front 28-27. A pair of Minnesota blocks gave the Gophers the first of what turned out to be three match point opportunities. The Illini fought off the first two of those, including one on a thunderous kill from Brown to make it 30-30. Minnesota, however, scored the final two points of the match to claim the victory.
"I think this weekend showed that we could compete in the Big Ten," said Bazzetta. "Now it's just a matter of us believing that we can win."
"I think in tonight's match we took some steps forward in some areas and had some key players step up," said Illinois Head Coach Don Hardin. "Minnesota just made some plays on key points and we were not able to get over that hump."