Nov. 4, 2012
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Behind junior Maggie Brindock’s triple double of 12 kills, 38 assists and 11 digs, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team won its 10th straight match on Sunday at College Ave. Gym with a 3-1 (23-25, 25-14, 25-21, 25-18) victory over Rutgers.
Brindock, who also chipped in five blocks while hitting .647, turned in just the 22nd triple-double in Irish history and the first since Lauren Brewster (17K, 13D, 11B) and Adrianna Stasiuk (14K, 11D, 11B) each recorded triple-doubles against Illinois State on Oct. 13, 2004.
On the receiving end of many of Brindock’s assists was sophomore Jeni Houser, who had a team-high 14 kills and also added five blocks. Fellow sophomore Toni Alugbue had 12 kills and eight digs, while senior Hilary Eppink had nine kills and four blocks. Freshman libero Taylor Morey led the team with 23 digs and also added eight assists. The 23 digs was her eighth 20-plus dig effort of the year.
“We did a great job of rebounding after a slow start to play a great match,” said head coach Debbie Brown. “Maggie and Jeni in particular had strong efforts today. They both were hard to stop at the nets all match.”
The Scarlet Knights got off to a great start as they jumped out to a 16-8 lead before the Irish made a furious comeback to tie the set at 23. However, a complete comeback wasn’t meant to be as a kill by Stephanie Zielinski and an attack error by the Irish gave Rutgers the 1-0 lead.
Notre Dame dominated the second set as it took a 7-6 lead and turned it into a 12-6 margin. The lead surged to 20-11 on an attack error from Alex Jones and ended with a kill from Marie Roof.
Rutgers tied the third set at 13 but allowed the Irish to go on a 4-0 run to take control of the match. Later in the set the Irish held a 22-19 lead before kills from Andrea McHugh and Houser gave the Irish set point. After the Scarlet Knights scored two points to cut the lead to 24-20, a bad set by Zielinski gave Notre Dame a 2-1 lead.
The Irish closed out the match with a 25-18 win in the fourth set. The set was tied at eight before Notre Dame scored three straight points to take an 11-8 lead. The Irish held that three-point lead throughout the remainder of the set and closed out the set with kills from Eppink and Alugbue.
With wins over Seton Hall (19-0) and Rutgers (20-0) this weekend, the Irish improved to 39-0 all-time against the two teams.
Notre Dame (19-6, 12-1 BIG EAST) returns home next Friday, Nov. 9 for Senior Day against Cincinnati. Senior Day festivities honoring Hilary Eppink and Marie Roof will get underway just minutes before the 7 p.m. first serve. The Irish will then head to Milwaukee, Wis., for a 2 p.m. (ET) Sunday matchup with Marquette.
The Irish can be seeded no lower than No. 3 in the upcoming BIG EAST Tournament, but would secure the No. 1 seed and at least a share of the BIG EAST regular-season title with a pair of wins. Louisville and Marquette also sit at 12-1 entering next weekend and have clinched at least a top-three seed in the BIG EAST Tournament. If Marquette beats Louisville on Friday and Notre Dame wins, the two would meet on Sunday with the No. 1 seed on the line.
With one more win next weekend, a pair of milestones would occur. The Irish would hit 20 wins for the first time since 2009 and Brown would reach 500 wins as the leader of the Irish volleyball program. Earlier this season Brown reached 600 career wins with a 3-1 lead over Buffalo on Sept. 1.