Sept. 19, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Sometimes one play can define a comeback. Anyone remember Eli Manning’s pass to David Tyree to help the New York Giants win Super Bowl XLII? What about Mario Chalmers’ three-pointer at the end of regulation against Memphis in the 2008 NCAA Championship to help the Jayhawks bring home a title? Or Ray Allen’s three-pointer against the San Antonio Spurs to send game six of the 2013 NBA Finals to overtime and help the Miami Heat win its second consecutive NBA title?
While the moment wasn’t as big as those three for the University of Notre Dame volleyball team, one point in a thrilling come-from-behind win over Auburn Saturday night to clinch the Shamrock Invitational title stands out among all others as the moment momentum clearly changed to the side of the Irish.
Let’s set the stage. Notre Dame had just lost the first two sets to a 9-1 Auburn squad that had dominated Loyola-Chicago and Oakland in the tournament already. The Irish came out hot, as they led 17-12 in the third set, but still had an uphill climb in front of them, needing to win three consecutive sets to win the match.
“The marathon rally against Auburn will be something I will always remember,” said Brindock. “As a volleyball player, a play like that is something I live for. As a team we were scrappy and did everything we could to keep the ball alive. We had full trust in each other. Even though the play was tiring, it was a turning point for us in the match.”
“In practice earlier in the week we worked on making the little plays and being committed to not losing rallies on silly errors,” said Alugbue. “Going into the match we knew we were going to play some hard rallies. I credit our defense, especially Maggie (Brindock) and Kathleen (Severyn), for making some incredible digs.”
On the court for the Irish were Brindock, Alugbue, seniors Sammie Brown, Andrea McHugh and Andie Olsen and junior Kathleen Severyn. For Auburn they had Katherine Culwell, Chelsea Wintzinger, Camila Jersonsky, Kathia Rud, Stephanie Campbell and Sarah Wroblicky.
Some of the highlights for both teams included a strong dig by Wroblicky off a Brown attack down the line (0:41) and back-to-back great saves from Brown (0:51) and Brindock (0:57) before Alugbue ended the rally at 1:12 after a dig from Severyn and a pass from Brindock.
One of the oddities of the point for the Irish was that McHugh, who is Notre Dame’s libero, didn’t get a single touch during the rally, as Severyn, a defensive specialist, ended up scooping up many of the digs. The number of touches for Irish players during the 11 times the ball was on their side of the net was as follows: Severyn (7), Brown (6), Brindock (5), Olsen (5) and Alugbue (4).
After the ball hit the ground, Brindock remembers the excitement that surrounded the team as they gathered for the next point.
“Once Toni (Alugbue) hit the last ball and it went down on Auburn’s side, I remember throwing my arms up in the air and just embracing my teammates,” said Brindock. “It was an awesome feeling winning that point and showed tremendous determination by us as a team.”
Notre Dame went on to win the set and later the match as it won 15-11 in the deciding fifth set.
Head coach Debbie Brown definitely credits the point as one of the deciding factors in the win.
“I think it was a huge point in the match,” said the veteran coach. “It was definitely a turning point. I think it showed that we had put the first two sets behind us and were ready to fight until the end to win the match.”
In the huddle during the timeout directly after the rally, Brown had nothing but praise for her team.
“I couldn’t say enough good things about the rally to them because there were so many great plays by everyone on the court to keep the ball alive,” said Brown. “The play ultimately just showed our will to win and not let the ball touch the ground.”
The Irish (5-3) return to action this weekend as they head to Lawrence, Kan., for the Kansas Invitational. There they will play North Dakota State (0-9), Georgia (8-1) and the host Jayhawks (7-3). Saturday Notre Dame will meet the Bison (10:30 a.m. ET) and the Bulldogs (8:30 p.m. ET) before battling Kansas at 2 p.m. Sunday.
For more information on Notre Dame volleyball, follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDVolleyball) and Twitter (@NDVolleyball).
— Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director