Wolverines Lose in Five at No. 6 Illinois in Battle of Big Ten's Best

Oct. 29, 2010

Box Score | Notes

Site: Champaign, Ill. (Huff Hall)
Score: #6 Illinois 3, #15 Michigan 2 (25-11, 16-25, 25-20, 24-26, 15-11)
Records: U-M (19-4, 8-3 Big Ten), Illinois (18-3, 10-1 Big Ten)
Next U-M Match: Saturday, Oct. 30 -- at Wisconsin (Madison, Wis.), 7 p.m. CDT

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- In a match-up of the Big Ten's top two teams, the No. 15-ranked University of Michigan volleyball team dropped a 3-2 decision at No. 6 Illinois on Friday night (Oct. 29) at Huff Hall. Set scores were 25-11, 16-25, 25-20, 24-26, 15-11 as the Wolverines staved off three match points in the fourth set to force a fifth but could not overcome a 4-0 Illinois start in the deciding frame.

Junior outside hitter Alex Hunt (Granger, Ind./South Bend St. Joseph) led the Wolverines with 20 kills and 12 digs, with redshirt sophomore right side Claire McElheny (Westfield, Ind./Brebeuf) going for 15 kills and freshman middle blocker Jennifer Cross (Scarborough, Ont./Birchmount Park Collegiate) finding the floor 11 times. Senior defensive specialist Maggie Busch (Toledo, Ohio/Toledo Christian) led five Wolverines in double-figure digs with a career-best 19, while senior setter Lexi Zimmerman (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) recorded 52 assists, 14 digs, three kills and a service ace on the night.

In the fifth set, Illinois grabbed a 4-0 advantage before Cross ended the run with a slide kill to put U-M on the board. The Illini lead grew to as many as five at 10-5, but the Wolverines scored the next four points to pull within a point, 10-9, when freshman outside hitter Lexi Erwin (Spring, Texas/Woodlands College Park) ripped one cross court for the kill. The Illini clamped down after that, scoring five of the next eight points for the 15-12 victory to remain at the top of the Big Ten standings.

Facing an Illinois match point at 24-21 in the fourth set, Michigan reeled off five consecutive points on three Hunt kills and two Illini attack errors to win, 26-24, capped by Hunt using the block for a point. The Maize and Blue jumped out to an 8-1 advantage, only to see Illinois storm back and take a 16-15 lead. The teams traded points to 21-all, when Illinois scored three in a row, before Michigan went on its deciding spurt.

Michigan scored the first point of the third set off a Zimmerman kill, but Illinois took the lead at 2-1 and kept it the rest of the way in a 25-20 victory. Down 22-18, kills from Hunt and McElheny brought U-M back within two and forced an Illini timeout. The stoppage halted the U-M momentum as Illinois ripped off the next three points to win the third, 25-20.

The Wolverines evened the match at a set apiece following a 25-16 second-set victory, leading wire to wire after jumping out to a 3-0 lead. With Michigan holding on to a three-point lead at 12-9, consecutive kills from Hunt, McElheny and redshirt junior middle blocker Karlee Bruck (Elyria, Ohio/Elyria) pushed the U-M advantage to 15-9 and put the set out of reach for Illinois. Hunt led the way with seven kills in the set, with McElheny chipping in four.

Michigan fell behind 8-2 early in the first set as Illinois kept at least a five-point cushion the rest of the way behind a .440 attack percentage. Michigan had only eight kills in the first frame in a 25-11 loss.

The Wolverines wrap up their four-match road swing tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 30) with a 7 p.m. CDT match at Wisconsin.


Maggie Busch had a career-high 19 digs, improving upon her previous best of 14 that was set against Toledo (Aug. 28, 2010).

Alex Hunt recorded at least 20 kills for the ninth time this season.

Alex Hunt set a new career high with 72 attack attempts.

• Five Wolverines recorded double-digit digs -- Maggie Busch (19), Sloane Donhoff (16), Lexi Zimmerman (14), Alex Hunt (12) and Ally Sabol (11).

• Michigan moves to 3-2 against ranked opposition in 2010, defeating No. 6 Illinois (Oct. 9), No. 14 Minnesota (Sept. 25) and No. 20 Northwestern (Oct. 15) while falling at No. 4 Penn State (Oct. 2) and No. 6 Illinois (Oct. 29).

• U-M is 2-2 in five-set matches.

• Michigan falls to 4-4 on the road (2-3 during Big Ten action).

• Illinois remains atop the Big Ten with a 10-1 conference record. Michigan is the only team to have beaten Illinois this season.

Contact: Sarah VanMetre (734) 763-4423

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