Adi Nott had an impressive first day of action at the NCAAs, despite facing a daunting series of top foil opponents among her 14 bouts (photo by Jim O'Connor).

Hurley, Providenza And Nott In Position For Top NCAA Finishes; Irish Now Fourth Overall

NCAA Fencing Day-3 Updates in PDF Format
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March 24, 2007

MADISON, N.J. – Three Notre Dame women’s fencers – senior sabreist Valerie Providenza, sophomore foilist Adi Nott and freshman epeeist Kelley Hurley – each moved into a top-four position in their respective weapons, following the first day of bouts in the women’s portion of the 2007 NCAA Combined Championships. Based on combined men’s and women’s victory totals, the Irish currently sit in fourth place with 130 points, behind Penn State (150), St. John’s (142) and a Columbia program (137) that entered Saturday’s action atop the standings. Notre Dame will look to hold off its Midwest rival Ohio State (120) on Sunday in the final stage of the four-day event, with defending champion Harvard checking in at sixth place (99). Notre Dame and Ohio State both are competing with only five of the maximum six women’s fencers, making it unlikely that the Irish could catch Columbia on Sunday, when each fencer in the women’s field has nine final bouts.


Kelley Hurley is poised to cap her dominating freshman season with a finish near the top of the NCAA epee standings (photo by Jim O’Connor).



(Note: this recap includes quotes from the ND coaches and photos from the epee and foil bouts; additional photos, including those from sabre bouts, and quotes from the ND women’s fencers will be included with Sunday’s recap; also note that an overview release on the ND men’s competitors from the NCAAs will be posted soon as well on, with similar quotes, photos and historical notes.)

Providenza (12-2; +31 on total-point indicators) trails only Penn State’s Caity Thompson (13-1) and Olga Ovtchinnikova of St. John’s (12-2, +35) in the women’s sabre standings, as she nears her fourth career top-12 finish and the corresponding All-America distinction. Hurley (11-3) and Nott (12-2) stand second and third in their respective weapons of epee and foil, with each hoping to advance to the individual semifinals after the conclusion of Sunday’s round-robin bouts.

A pair of Notre Dame sophomores – sabreist Ashley Serrette (16th) and foilist Emilie Prot (18th) – each went 5-9 in their debut performances at the NCAAs, contributing to Notre Dame’s 45 wins that represented the third-best total on Saturday.

Unlike in the earlier men’s competition, the majority of Notre Dame’s bouts against contending teams came on the first day for the women. Several key matchups will remain for Sunday, including Hurley against the Penn State and St. John’s epeeists while both the foil and sabre tandems will battle head-to-head with Columbia (plus Providenza’s bouts against the PSU sabreists).


Emilie Prot’s debut at the NCAAs included several noteworthy wins in the foil bouting (photo by Jim O’Connor).



Providenza (Beaverton, Ore.) dropped her second bout against Ovtchinnikova (2-5) but won her next 11 to cement her place in the top-four after the first day. Included in that run were victories over the OSU All-America duo of Siobhan Byrne (5-4) and Eileen Grench (5-2), plus a 5-0 victory over St. John’s standout newcomer Dagmara Wozniak. Providenza’s charge to the top may be hampered slightly by the withdrawal of Wayne State’s Kasia Kuzniak (who pulled out because of injury), which gives Providenza one fewer bout to fence on the final day. The Columbia pair of Emily Jacobson and Daria Schneider (both 11-3) and Harvard’s Alexa Weingarden (10-4) – all of which sit in the top seven of the standings – fenced Kuzniak before the injury and thus could potentially hold a slight advantage over the Notre Dame senior, with the final standings to be based on winning percentage.

Nott (Pittsford, N.Y.) lost only to the two fencers who sit above her in the foil standings – Penn State elite newcomer Doris Willette (2-5) and SJU’s Monika Golebiewski (0-5) – but she added key wins against the Northwestern duo of All-Americans, Jessica Florendo and Sam Nemecek (both 5-1 victories), OSU’s Julia Tikhonova (5-3), PSU’s Tamara Najm (5-2) and Penn’s Abigail Emerson (5-1). Nott’s performance is all the more impressive when one considers that she went 5-2 against the other foilists who finished in Saturday’s top-8, indicating that she may have an easier slate of bouts on Sunday.


The lefthanded Nott is poised to improve on her All-America 6th-place finish at the 2006 NCAAs (photo by Jim O’Connor).



The 11 first-day wins for Hurley puts the San Antonio native below only two-time NCAA champion Anna Garina (14-10) of Wayne State in the women’s epee standings. Hurley swept top opponents from Columbia (Tess Finkel and Alexie Rubin, both 5-3), Ohio State (5-1 vs. Leslie Lampman, 5-2 vs. Alexandra Obrazcova) and Harvard (Maria Larsson and Jasmine McGlade, both 5-2) – to help solidify Notre Dame’s spot in the overall team standings. Hurley was edged 4-5 in each of her losses (to Northwestern’s Christa French and the WSU pair of Garina and Justyna Konczalska) and held a 4-2 lead over Garina before the Ukraine native was able to rally for the final three touches.

Serrette turned in several impressive bouts in her first taste of NCAA tournament competition. Most notably, the Orange, N.J., native edged St. John’s rookie standout Dagmara Wozniak (5-4), who is listed 5th on the USFA national rankings for all women’s sabre fencers (regardless of age). Serrette also shut out Stanford All-American Eva Jellison (5-0) and knocked off Kuzniak (also an All-American) in a 5-2 bout that came, before Kuzniak’s withdrawal from the competition, in addition to nearly upsetting the current standings leader Thompson (Serrette led 4-1 but was unable to secure the final touch).

Prot – who could get a boost on Sunday with a lighter load of top opponents – was able to knock off Northwestern’s Florendo (5-1), with another noteworthy bout in her 5-4 win over Penn’s Ilana Sinkin.


Hurley – an Olympic hopeful – joins teammates Valerie Providenza (sabre) and Adi Nott (foil) as Irish fencers who will enter Sunday ranked among the top-3 in their respective weapons (photo by Jim O’Connor).



Comments From Notre Dame Head Coach Janusz Bednarski – “The girls did a great job today. I’m full of appreciation for their attitude, their ambition and the way that they fenced. We are in a tough situation after a tough year, but they are doing a great job. The three teams who are ahead of us are our rivals and they have a full team of 12 entrants, but not by so much that they can feel secure – they have to watch us very closely. … Our kids our doing a great job. Valerie is on a roll, Nott is on a roll, Hurley is in the top-three. They are our leaders – we expected that they would be doing well – but they are doing very well. … Serrette won a bout against one of the top international fencers, Dagmara Wozniak from St. John’s. She is a fencer who has reached the finals of the World Cup. Wozniak lost against Serrette, who is not as experienced as her, and it was a sign that there is a talent in Ashley, a will to go for everything. … I hope that we will continue to work and that – if not at this championship – sooner or later with this team, we can get to the same position that we were in a couple of years ago at the top of the standings.”


Spirited first-year assistant coach Gia Kvaratskhelia – shown cheering on the Irish at the NCAAs – has provided valuable leadership for the Notre Dame foliists while combining with head coach Janusz Bednarski in the general direction of the program (photo by Jim O’Connor).



Comments From Notre Dame Assistant Coach (Foil) Gia Kvaratskhelia – “Our foil girls are doing very well. We have done more than we’ve expected so far. From the time Adi faced Penn State to the last four tournaments – at Junior Olympics, she was second, she won the Midwest Championships, she won the Regional – I think she’s hitting the peak of her performances right now. Hopefully, she’s going to finish strong tomorrow. … The NCAAs are new to me and it’s really exciting. There’s no comparison between being a club coach and fencing at the NAC level, and here at the NCAAs. This is totally different. I’ve enjoyed it so much – every bout is do-or-die. By the end of the day, you’re exhausted – but, hey, that’s what we’re here for, to coach. I could do this two weeks in a row if I had the opportunity.”