Saturday featured 12 matches with the winners earning a ticket to the Sweet 16 next weekend. Eight of the matches ended in sweeps, although two of those provided upsets as No. 9 Creighton and No. 11 USC fell to Washington and San Diego respectively.
In front a boisterous crowd of over 3,700 Illini fans, the No. 3 seeded and ranked Illinois volleyball team earned its second-straight trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 and ninth in the last 11 seasons with a hard-fought 3-1 (25-22, 28-26, 25-17, 25-18) victory over Louisville.
Minnesota remained perfect atop the Big Ten standings at 10-0 with a four-set win over Nebraska. Penn State, Illinois and Michigan all held rank in sweep of Rutgers, Michigan State and Northwestern respectively.
All six home sides held court on Friday in the Big Ten, including upset wins by Indiana and Northwestern, who moved past Ohio State and Michigan State respectively. Illinois and Wisconsin each went the distance for wins over Michigan and Nebraska.
Four Illinois players managed double-digit kill tallies led by Ali Bastianelli’s career-high 19 as the Fighting Illini hung on for a five-set win over Michigan.
Minnesota increased its stranglehold on the top spot in the Big Ten standings at 7-0 with a home sweep of Illinois on Friday behind 15 kills by junior Alexis Hart.
Wisconsin rallied for a four-set win over Illinois, beating the Illini at their own game, winning the block 8-5 and denying Ali Bastianelli the career total blocks record for another match.
All 3 favored programs played their way to Big Ten conference volleyball victories on Wednesday night as 3rd-ranked Nebraska topped 25th-ranked Iowa in 4, 4th-ranked Minnesota handled Northwestern in straight sets and 5th-ranked Wisconsin downed 7th-ranked Illinois in 4.
A lot went down in Big Ten volleyball action Saturday night, as Maryland downed Ohio State in 5 sets, 5th-ranked Nebraska ended 4th-ranked Illinois’ perfect start with a 4-set win and Michigan State got back on track with a 4-set win over Rutgers. 7th-ranked Minnesota and 3rd-ranked Wisconsin swept by Indiana and 20th-ranked Purdue, respectively.