Smooth ball control and a stiff defensive effort helped Notre Dame blank Rutgers on Sunday.

Fighting Irish Handle Rutgers, 3-0

Nov. 9, 2008

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Setting a program record for the largest margin of victory in the 25-point era, the Notre Dame volleyball team handed Rutgers a 3-0 (25-13, 25-16, 25-8) league setback Sunday at College Avenue Gymnasium. The Irish have now won three of their last four matches heading into the final week of the regular season.

Notre Dame (13-12 overall, 8-4 BIG EAST Conference) returns home for its final pair of regular season contests with BIG EAST foes St. John’s (Nov. 14) and Connecticut (Nov. 16). Live stats will be available at For up-to-the-minute results, sign up for IRISH ALERT text messaging services at

The 38-point win was the largest margin of victory during the 2008 campaign for the Irish, exceeding the previous best of 32 set earlier this season against West Virginia.

Notre Dame hit .287 as four players finished with at least six kills. Junior setter Jamel Nicholas assisted on 27 of Notre Dame’s 38 kills and added three kills with nine digs on her own. Junior Serinity Phillips had seven kills and seven digs with senior Justine Stremick adding six kills and five blocks.

The Scarlet Knights (2-20, 1-11) received six kills from Lauren Voss but struggled with their hitting by posting a -.079 clip, the lowest by an Irish opponent this season and the strongest defensive effort from Notre Dame since holding DePaul to -.110 in 2005.

Stremick cracked the scoring column with a kill and block assist and then junior Christina Kaelin bounced back-to-back kills to help Notre Dame jump ahead to a 5-0 lead in the first set. Rutgers stayed steady and chipped into the margin, 11-8, but a 7-0 Irish run gave the visitors enough room to work with for the remainder of the period. Stremick had two blocks and five of Notre Dame’s 13 kills in the opening period.

Rutgers took the first point of the second set but the Irish responded by claiming the next four scores. An Irish attack error knotted things at 4-4, but Notre Dame put together a 3-0 run behind a pair of kills by freshman Kristen Dealy. The Scarlet Knights called a timeout after the midway point, returning to the court to meet an ace by junior Megan Fesl (20-11). Fesl stayed on top of her game and delivered the final kill of the set to give Notre Dame its nine-point win. Sophomore Kellie Sciacca was solid with three kills and one block in the set and finished the day with seven kills on 15 errorless swats.

The Irish fell behind again in the final set, 1-0, but it had minimal effect on the outcome. Notre Dame posted runs of 4-0, 7-0 and 5-0 to help rock the Scarlet Knights to sleep. The action in the last frame was highlighted by the hot hands of the Irish swingers who connected for 12 kills on 29 attempts without a fault for a .414 average.

Tickets for next week’s action can be purchased by calling the Irish Athletics Ticket Office at 574.631.7356 or visiting the Joyce Center ticket windows (located inside gate 1 on the second floor) weekdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET). In addition, fans can buy their Irish volleyball tickets on-line by going to the tickets page of the Notre Dame athletics web site (, or by visiting the gate 10 ticket windows at the Joyce Center prior to each match.