COLUMBUS, Ohio – Next up: Penn State.
The Illinois volleyball team knocked off Ohio State on Friday night 25-20, 25-17, 17-25, 27-25 to set up a showdown against second-place Penn State on Saturday night in State College, Pa.
The first-place Illini (13-2) hold a tenuous one-game lead on the Nittany Lions (12-3) heading into Saturday night's matchup.
In the Big Ten opener, Illinois won a five-set thriller against Penn State back in September.
Against Ohio State, the Illini were led by Michelle Bartsch (18 kills), Colleen Ward (17) and Jazmine Orozco (13). Bartsch also had 11 digs.
"We stayed calm at the end and were very competitive throughout the match," Illinois coach Kevin Hambly said. "I liked the way we played for long stretches of that match. We just need to cut down on those errors and keep serving tough. Our passing and offense in the first two sets was at as high of a level that I've seen all year, but we've got to extend that until the end."
Illinois overcame deficits of 18-16, 22-19 and 23-22 in the fourth set on the strength of Bartsch's big finish.
"Michelle got hot down the stretch," Hambly said. "She played smart and really was the reason we won that last set."
Ward had six kills in the first set as the Illini jumped to an early lead against the Buckeyes (19-9, 7-8).
Illinois improved to 21-4 overall.
Illini eliminated at NCAAs. The Illinois soccer team suffered a 3-1 defeat Friday afternoon to Southern Cal in the first round of the NCAA tournament in South Bend, Ind.
Shayla Mutz scored in the 80th minute for the Illini (13-5-1) to cut the deficit to 3-1.
"Credit to the way we fought from start to finish tonight," coach Janet Rayfield said. "The difference was there were several big moments in the game offensively and defensively and we didn't come through in those moments."
The Trojans led 1-0 at halftime.
"Whether it is the opportunities we had in the box in the beginning of the game, at the end or the save on the free kick (goal) – those are game-defining plays and you want the returning players to realize the opportunities they have and come with the confidence and composure to take care of those game-defining moments," Rayfield said.
Illini top Mizzou. No. 2 Jimmy Kennedy (141 pounds) beat No. 17 Todd Schavrien and No. 14 Jordan Blanton (174) also won to lead the No. 10 Illini past No. 11 Missouri 18-13.
Monticello product Kyle Dooley (157) upset No. 20 Dan Gonsor 7-3.
The Illini also got decisions from B.J. Futrell (133), Eric Terrazas (149) and Mario Gonzalez (197).
In women's swimming & diving:
Illini top ISU. The Illini rolled to a 175-123 victory at Illinois State on Friday, improving to 6-0 in the best start since 1997.
Team signs five. Coach Terri Sullivan added five athletes with her latest recruiting class: Shelese Arnold, a right-handed pitcher from Lexington, Tenn.; Jessica Perkins, a utility player from Orland Park; Brittany Sanchez, an outfielder from Skokie; Jami Schkade, an infielder from Albany, Texas; and Kayla Tyler, a shortstop from Windsor, Calif.
"This class is versatile positionwise, which will allow us to be creative with our lineup and game-by-game strategy. We expect all five of our signees to make an immediate impact," Sullivan said.