Nov. 20, 2010
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Notre Dame put up a valiant fight against No. 18 Cincinnati Saturday afternoon at Pittsburgh’s Fitzgerald Fieldhouse in the semifinals of the 2010 BIG EAST Conference Volleyball Championship but fell in straight sets, 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-19).
The match featured 28 ties and 13 lead changes as the back-and-forth tilt was much more competitive than the two team’s regular-season meeting on Oct. 10. In that match, there were only nine ties and three lead changes as the Bearcats (28-4) outscored the Irish by 22 points.
The Irish hit .265 with the Bearcats finishing with a .320 clip while recording three errors in each of the three sets.
No point went uncontested in an opening period that had all the makings of a championship matchup. Cincinnati overcame a 23-22 deficit by scoring the final three points of the frame to take the win behind a pair of late kills from BIG EAST Player of the Year Stephanie Niemer. Niemer finished with seven kills in the set.
Niemer had 15 kills on the day to lead three Cincinnati players with double-digit kill outputs.
Cincinnati got a bit of help from four Irish service errors and three blocking errors in the opener. Both teams had 14 kills with Notre Dame out-hitting the Bearcats, .297 to .275. There were 18 stalemates and eight lead changes.
Sophomore Hilary Eppink had five kills on six swings with McHugh adding six. McHugh’s first two provided Notre Dame with its first pair of points. The first of senior Angela Puente’s two aces in the set came at 6-4, and Notre Dame led by as many as three on two occasions. Niemer tied it at 15-15 going into the media timeout, and the two teams traded points for the rest of the set. Senior Kellie Sciacca went off the block to give Notre Dame a 23-22 lead before the Bearcats tacked on three straight.
After McHugh made it 6-6 in the second, the Bearcats went on a 3-0 run which would never be neutralized by the Irish. Notre Dame was not able to tie it after that point. McHugh brought Notre Dame within one at 19-18.
Niemer had six kills in the second set, including back-to-back strikes to open up the one-point Bearcat lead into a 21-18 cushion that proved to be the difference in the frame.
Cincinnati cracked open the third with three straight points, a run that was ended by a kill from freshman Andie Olsen. Dealy and Sciacca teamed for the block at 6-6 and freshman Maggie Brindock dumped in Notre Dame’s ninth score to take a two-point edge.
Dealy’s attack clipped the net and fell at 11-9 with freshman Sam Brown adding a soft tip at 12-9. The Bearcats woke up and Neimer tied it at 13-13 as Cincinnati would also bury an Irish over pass to take a 14-13 lead it would not surrender for the remainder of the contest.
Cincinnati recorded its first ace of the match on a Becca Refenes serve at 19-14.