After winning the first two sets, Illinois was unable to finish off rallying Ohio State, which pulled out a 16-25, 25-27, 25-21, 25-15, 15-12 victory.
Sophomore Liz McMahon belted a career-high 23 kills but also committed eight of Illinois 24 hitting errors. Jocelynn Birks added 14 kills for Illinois.
Kaitlyn Leary paced a balanced Buckeyes' attack with 14 kills.
The Illini were unable to capture the final set despite hitting .583. Ohio State was nearly as hot, hitting .533 in Set 5.
Ohio State beat error-prone Illinois 25-15 in the fourth set to extend the match again.
The Illini committed 10 hitting errors, just one fewer than they had in the previous two sets combined and three fewer than in the first three sets.
Leading 14-13, the Buckeyes took command with with a 7-0 run.
Outside hitter Morganne Criswell came off the bench with the Illini trailing 21-13 and scored Illinois' final three points on kills.
The Illini hit. .065 in Set 4.
Ohio State extended the match with 25-21 win in Set 3, carried by a balanced attack that saw three Buckeyes contributed four kills.
With the score tied at 9, Ohio State scored six of the next seven points to go ahead for good. Emily Danks had two kills and a service ace during the spurt that put the Buckeyes ahdead 15-10.
Illinois rallied to draw within 23-21, but a kill by Mari Hole and a block by Andrea Kacsits clinched the set for Ohio State.
Jocelynn Birks had five kills in the set for Illnois, giving her 11 for the match. Liz McMahon leads the Illini with 16 kills.
Hole leads OSU with 10 kills, but four of her teammates have between five and nine kills.
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Illinois won each of the first two sets, 25-16 and 27-25.
Liz McMahon continues to lead an Illini attack that is hitting .308. After belting six kills in seven swings in the first set, the sophomore right-side hitter racked up seven more kills in 11 swings. She's hitting .611 for the match.
Outside hitters Jocelynn Birks and Ali Stark have pitched in with six and five kills for Illinois. Behind Jennifer Beltran's 13 digs, Illinois leads the Buckeyes in that category 27-23. Beltran needs two more digs to move into a tie for third place with Tracey Marshall (1996-99) on the UI career list.
Ohio State, which hit .282 in Set 2, is hitting .217 for the match. Mari Hole leads a balanced Buckeyes attack with six kills. Four of her teammates have from four to five kills.
Welcome to our live report from Huff Hall for tonight's Big Ten volleyball match between Illinois and Ohio State.
The No. 21 Illini enter with a record of 8-6 overall and 2-2 in the conference. The No. 19 Buckeyes are 11-5 and 2-2.
Illinois has dominated this series since 2008, winning all nine meetings. The most recent was last December in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, the Illini prevailing in four sets at Gainesville, Fla. Michelle Bartsch, now a UI student assistant coach, had 18 kills and hit .362 in 47 swings to lead the Illini into the Elite Eight.
Like Illinois, the Buckeyes have played a challenging schedule. All five of Ohio State's defeats were to ranked teams.
The Illini and Buckeyes both are looking to shore up their defenses with the Big Ten race now in its third week. Ohio State ranks 11th in the conference in opponent hitting percentage, while Illinois is 12th out of 12 teams.
Each team has one of the Big Ten's top attackers. Illini redshirt freshman Jocelynn Birks ranks fifth in the league in kills per set (4.20), while Buckeyes senior Mari Hole is sixth at 4.08.
Tonight will be the Illini's annual Breast Cancer Awareness match, with UI players (with one exception) wearing pink jerseys that previously were auctioned off and will later be presented to the auction winners. The exception is Jennifer Beltran, who as the team's libero is required to wear a different colored jersey for all matches. Tonight, her primary jersey color is navy, with pink trim.
This is the first of two consecutive matches for the Illini against ranked opponents. On Saturday, at 7 p.m., No. 1 Penn State comes to Huff Hall. The Nittany Lions (14-1, 4-0 Big Ten) are playing at Northwestern tonight.
We'll update this report after each set, so be sure to check back.
-- J ff Huth