Michigan Cannot Maintain Early Edge against No. 7 Illinois
Courtney Fletcher

Nov. 19, 2011

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Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Cliff Keen Arena)
Result: #7 Illinois 3, #23 Michigan 1 (22-25, 25-14, 27-25, 25-21)
Records: U-M (19-11, 7-11 Big Ten), Illinois (25-4, 14-4 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Wednesday, Nov. 23 -- vs. Michigan State (Cliff Keen Arena), 7 p.m.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 23-ranked University of Michigan volleyball team won the first set but lost the next three as No. 7 Illinois rallied for the 3-1 win (22-25, 25-14, 27-25, 25-21) Saturday night (Nov. 19) at Cliff Keen Arena.

Michigan had a quartet of players with 11 kills in sophomore Jennifer Cross (Scarborough, Ont./Birchmount Park Collegiate), sophomore Lexi Erwin (Spring, Texas/Woodlands College Park), sophomore Molly Toon (Middleton, Wis./Middleton) and senior Courtney Fletcher (Johns Creek, Ga./Northview), while senior/junior Claire McElheny (Westfield, Ind./Brebeuf) went for nine on the evening. Freshman setter Lexi Dannemiller (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West) handed out 44 assists and recorded a match-high 15 digs for her 13th double-double of the season. Joining Dannemiller with double-digit digs were senior libero Sloane Donhoff (Louisville, Ky./Assumption) with 14 and Erwin with 11.

In a first set that featured 17 tie scores and six lead changes, the Wolverines broke a 22-22 tie with a kill from Toon on the outside. An ace from senior Alex Hunt (Granger, Ind./South Bend St. Joseph) on the ensuing point gave U-M set point at 24-22, and the Illini's Colleen Ward missed long to seal Michigan's 25-22 win. Cross put down five kills in the frame, with Toon and Erwin chipping in three apiece.

Michigan fell behind 8-4 in the early going of set two and never recovered in a 25-14 loss. Illinois hit .586 in the set with just two errors compared to the Maize and Blue's clip of .233.

An Erwin service ace broke a 23-23 tie in the third frame to give the Wolverines set point at 24-23. However, an Illini block followed by a back-row attack error by Erwin put the Illini on top at 25-24. Fletcher staved off the first set point with a kill on the quick set of Dannemiller, but back-to-back kills from Illinois gave the visitors a 27-25 victory.

After going back and forth to start the fourth set, the teams were deadlocked at 7-7 when the Illini went on a decisive three-point run to stake a 10-7 lead. U-M closed the gap to two points at 16-14 after three consecutive service aces from Hunt, but the Wolverines got no closer the rest of the way as Illinois won 25-21 to take the match.

The Wolverines are back in action Wednesday (Nov. 23), hosting in-state rival Michigan State. Match time is slated for 7 p.m. at Cliff Keen Arena.

Contact: Sarah VanMetre (734) 763-4423

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