Andrea McHugh had 16 reasons to celebrate, totaling 16 kills against Eastern Michigan to start the 2011 season.

Fighting Irish Take Season Opener Over Eastern Michigan

Aug. 26, 2011

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame and Eastern Michigan went above and beyond the distance in the first set of Friday’s non-conference match at Purcell Pavilion as the Irish took the opening frame, 32-30. Not only was it the highest score of a first set to open any season (including the 15-, 30- and 25-point era), but it also proved to be a sign that both teams had their work cut out for the evening.

The Irish (1-0) held on for a 3-1 (32-30, 19-25, 25-17, 25-14) win while hitting .200 behind sophomore Andrea McHugh’s double-double. McHugh had 16 kills and 18 digs with three blocks and an ace, saving seven of her kills for the fourth and final set.

Freshman Jeni Houser connected on the first swing of her collegiate career and impressed the crowd of 955 on hand for the Shamrock Invitational with her heavy arm. Houser finished with 11 kills on 33 swings, adding seven digs and six blocks.

Notre Dame registered 14.5 blocks with sophomore Sam Brown leading the way with seven block assists. Junior Hilary Eppink added six to go with her nine kills.

Senior Frenchy Silva was able to scoop 15 shots and freshman Kathleen Severyn showed her value behind the line with a pair of aces. However, Notre Dame’s six aces were more than wiped away by 12 service errors.

Eastern Michigan (0-1) could not find an answer for Houser in the first set as the first-year swinger went for seven kills on 13 swats in the opener.

Houser bounced her first attempt for a score, putting down a backset on the right side from a Maggie Brindock dime. Brindock led Notre Dame with 29 assists as sophomore classmate Sammie Brown had 12 in three sets.

Houser displayed her cannon while helping Notre Dame climb out of a 14-11 hole in the first, as the two teams each had a handful of set points and changed leads eight times before Notre Dame pulled out the win on a block by Brindock and Eppink.

Eastern Michigan, which received 13 kills from Rachel Iaquaniello and 10 more from Kristen Baker, limited the Irish to a -.025 clip in the second set. Notre Dame once held a 7-2 lead but could not withstand a 10-3 Eagle run to bring the score to 12-10. Five straight points by Eastern Michigan later made it 21-13.

The Irish trailed by as many as four (12-8) midway through the third but used a great stretch of serving by Sammie Brown to scratch back and take a 15-14 lead on a double block by Houser and Sam Brown. Notre Dame held the lead as McHugh added two late kills and a solo block on set point.

The second of McHugh’s seven fourth-set kills gave Notre Dame a 5-4 lead, which it would hold on to for the remainder of the frame. Senior Kristen Dealy had five of her 13 digs in the set. Dealy also added four kills in the contest.

Notre Dame held Eastern Michigan to .091 hitting, and the Eagles’ Haley Stein had a match-high 28 digs.

Notre Dame plays Idaho, who defeated Butler in the opening match of the Shamrock Invitational, at 7:00 p.m. (ET) Saturday. Live video, stats and blog will be available at