Sept. 1, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame volleyball player Toni Alugbue powered down 21 kills and hit .700 with no errors in leading the Irish to a 3-1 (25-23, 25-10, 23-25, 25-18) victory over Buffalo on day two of the Shamrock Invitational.
With the win, the Irish (3-2) clinched the Shamrock Invitational title for the second year in a row. They close out the tournament tomorrow with a 2 p.m. match against Eastern Kentucky. In Saturday’s earlier match, UAB swept the Colonels, 3-0. The Blazers and Bulls play at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.
The Bulls had no answers throughout the match for Alugbue, who became just the second player in school history to hit .700 or above in a four-set match. She joins Mary Kay Waller, who hit .750 on 20 attempts in 1986. Alugbue had 30 attempts on the night.
“Toni put on a clinic on outside hitting tonight,” said head coach Debbie Brown. “To have no errors on 30 attempts is truly phenomenal. The setters did a great job of putting her in position and then she did the rest. Buffalo had no answers for her tonight.”
Alugbue had plenty of help from her teammates as Jeni Houser (14) and Andrea McHugh (13) also had double-digit kill totals. McHugh turned in a double-double with 15 digs to go along with her 13 kills. Maggie Brindock notched another double-double with 38 assists and 10 digs, while libero Taylor Morey had the second 20-plus dig match of her young career with 21.
The Irish came out swinging in set one, pounding out 20 kills on their way to hitting .350 in a 25-23 win. Alugbue led the way with seven kills as she hit a remarkable .875. Houser tallied six as she hit .455. The Irish made their run in the middle of the set, going on a 5-1 run to take a 14-9 lead. Notre Dame was on the brink of a set win at 24-20 after a kill by Houser, but Buffalo didn’t go down without a fight, running off three straight points to pull within one. McHugh ended the threat with a kill to give the Irish a 1-0 lead in the match.
Notre Dame dominated the Bulls in the second set, taking a 2-0 lead with a 25-10 win. The Irish improved on their hitting percentage from the first set as they hit .400. Alugbue added six more kills, while McHugh pounded out four. The Bulls were held to a remarkably low -.212 hitting percentage, as they tallied only three kills with 10 errors. Brindock served the first five points as the Irish took a quick 5-0 lead. Sammie Brown later served four consecutive points as Notre Dame extended its lead to 14-4. Five more points with Morey serving took the margin to 20-7. Nicole Smith entered the contest for the first time since 2010 after missing all of 2011 with a knee injury, and served for the final point as McHugh ended her second consecutive match.
The Bulls used a late rally to steal the third set from the Irish. Notre Dame was up 22-20 after a kill from Brindock. Buffalo rallied with three straight points as Dana Musil had two kills and Megan Lipski notched a service ace. After Meg Vonderhaar stopped the bleeding with a kill, Musil nailed another kill and then assisted on a block to give the Bulls the set. Notre Dame out hit the Bulls .364-.306 in the set.
Notre Dame clinched the match with an impressive fourth set, taking an 11-11 tie and turning it into a 20-14 advantage. On cruise control, the Irish closed out the match behind a pair of Alugbue kills and a kill each from Houser and senior Marie Roof.