Nov. 28, 2009
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Kristen Dealy had 12 kills and 12 digs to pace Notre Dame in a non-conference volleyball battle between a pair of ranked teams in front of 3,875 fans Saturday evening at the O’Connell Center. But in the end, No. 25 Notre Dame dropped the 3-1 (25-13, 27-29, 25-15, 25-9) decision to 15th-ranked Florida while also receiving 10 kills from Christina Kaelin. The defeat was Notre Dame’s third this season at the hands of a Southeastern Conference squad, after dropping contests to Tennessee and regular-season league champion LSU earlier this season.
After finishing the regular season with a 21-6 record (14-0 BIG EAST) and the BIG EAST Conference’s regular-season title, Notre Dame now looks ahead to the NCAA Tournament. The brackets will be announced Sunday (Nov. 29) at 3:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPNEWS.
Coming off a 3-0 sweep of South Carolina one day prior while hitting a season-high .519, Florida (23-5 overall, 16-4 SEC) finished the match with a .365 hitting average as three Gators posted double-figure kills. Callie Rivers led the way with 14 kills while Elyse Cusack scooped a match-high 23 shots.
Megan Barnicle earned the starting nod and finished with seven kills and a team-high three blocked shots for Notre Dame.
Three Irish players had at least 10 digs with Frenchy Silva registering a team-high 14.
Florida also aced the Irish nine times and blocked 9.0 shots.
Florida scored on the first three rallies and took six of the first seven points of the match. After receiving its first point on a Gator error, the Irish earned their second point at 6-2 with a Barnicle kill. Barnicle added a second at 10-3 and Megan Fesl went through the block at 15-8. Jamel Nicholas, who had 41 assists, aced the Gators at 15-9. Barnicle’s third kill of the set, a shifty tip over the Gator block, came at 21-10. She pounded a fourth at 22-11. Dealy also found an empty spot with a tip out of the backrow at 22-12.
Kellie Sciacca’s slider at 23-13 would be Notre Dame’s final point of the set.
Florida out-hit the visitors in the opener, .448 to .121, while six Irish players combined to register nine of Notre Dame’s kills. The Gators also had four aces, two off the hand of Kristy Jaeckel.
Serinity Phillips had a kill from the right side on the first play from scrimmage in the second. Kaelin took a Dealy assist to the far corner to give Notre Dame a 2-1 lead, but the second Irish service error of the set tied it again at 2-2. Florida took the lead on the next play and extended the cushion to a pair, but Dealy tied it at 6-6 before the Gators went back on top. Notre Dame’s first block of the match also gave it the lead at 10-9, with Barnicle and Phillips teaming for the rejection. Kaelin delivered from the left side at 12-0 and Florida was hindered by back-to-back double contact calls and a blocking error as Notre Dame found itself ahead by 19-14. The Gators rallied back and came within 20-18 on a Kelly Murphy kill. After an Irish timeout, Florida scored two straight when Silva struck the Gator defense with an ace. Back came Florida, tying it at 23-23 on another Murphy swing. Kaelin gave the Irish set point at 24-23 but Florida scored two more as the teams traded set points. Dealy’s fifth kill of the frame came at 28-27 with Phillips and Barnicle adding another block on the final set point.
Notre Dame hit .350 in the frame with 15 kills and just one error on 40 attempts. The Gators were held to a .298 clip.
The Irish overcame an early deficit in the third, tying it at 8-8 with a block by Kaelin and Barnicle. Florida went ahead, 14-10, as Sciacca’s swing from the right side fell for a score to get the Irish offense back on track. Dealy went off the block from the left side on two occasions, bringing Notre Dame to within three at 16-13. Florida streaked ahead and its defense allowed just two more points for the remainder of the stanza.
Dealy secured her double-double with 10 kills and 10 digs through the first three frames.
Each of the first five points of the fourth were scored by Florida, halted by a Kaelin kill from the left side. Kaelin added another as Notre Dame answered with a 4-0 run. However, Florida returned the favor with a 4-0 spurt to take a 9-4 lead. Florida doubled the score at 12-6 with a block from Jaeckel and Cassandra Anderson and then scored three more prior to Sciacca’s slider to make it 15-7. Notre Dame managed just a pair of points after that phase of the set.