No. 3 Illini defeat No. 9 Minnesota in Big Ten opener

They did it again.

The Illinois volleyball team held off Minnesota in five sets to win Friday’s match at Minneapolis’ Sports Pavilion for its Big Ten opener, 20-25, 25-18, 25-22, 20-25, 15-10.

It was the third time No. 3 Illinois and No. 9 Minnesota went into five sets. The teams split wins last season.

Senior Michelle Bartsch led the match in kills with 23. Senior Colleen Ward posted 16.

The Gophers outhit the Illini .469 to .237 to take the first set.

Though Illinois didn’t hit any better in the second, its defense picked up, holding Minnesota to a negative hitting percentage and forcing it to commit 14 errors.

Both teams split about even in the third, but the Gophers came back in the fourth as they cut down their errors.

Entering the final set, Illinois grabbed the early momentum with a 7-1 lead and never looked back.

With the win, Illinois remains undefeated at 12-0. Minnesota falls to 5-3.

On Sunday, Illinois will travel to Wisconsin (10-4), which defeated Northwestern on Friday or its conference opener.