Nov. 8, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – With the BIG EAST’s regular season crown and No. 1 seed in next week’s conference tournament yet to be decided, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team heads into the final weekend of the regular season with a lot of the line as the Irish welcome in Cincinnati for Senior Day on Friday, before hitting the road for a matchup with Marquette on Sunday.
The stakes are simple for the Irish – win both and they claim their 12th BIG EAST regular season title and first since 2009. Notre Dame (19-6, 12-1 BIG EAST) is tied with Louisville (23-3, 12-1 BIG EAST) and Marquette (23-4, 12-1 BIG EAST) for first place in the league standings, but this weekend will decide it all. Louisville and Marquette battle in Louisville at 4:30 p.m. (ET) Friday while the Irish and Bearcats get underway at 7 p.m. (ET) Friday night at Purcell Pavilion. Sunday the Cardinals and Bearcats meet at 12 p.m. (ET) in Louisville while Notre Dame and Marquette play at 2 p.m. (ET) Sunday. If the Golden Eagles and the Irish both win Friday night then Sunday would be a winner-take-all match in Milwaukee at the Al McGuire Center.
The Irish are coming off their ninth and 10th-straight wins last weekend with 3-1 victories over Seton Hall and Rutgers. For their efforts in helping Notre Dame to victory, freshman libero Taylor Morey earned BIG EAST Freshman of the Week accolades while junior Maggie Brindock was placed on the weekly honor roll.
Morey averaged 5.50 digs and 1.88 assists per set in the two matches, while Brindock averaged 2.0 kills, 11.12 assists and 2.75 digs per set on the weekend, including a triple-double (12K, 38A, 11D) in the win over the Scarlet Knights.
Notre Dame has already locked up its 22nd consecutive winning season and looks for its 19th 20-win season, and first since 2009, with one win this weekend.
Cincinnati (11-16, 9-4 BIG EAST) maneuvered an absolutely brutal non-conference schedule in which it went 2-10, including eight losses to top-25 teams, to turn in a solid BIG EAST campaign in locking up a bid to the BIG EAST Tournament.
The two squads are getting together for the second time this year as the Irish snuck out a 3-2 win after trailing 2-1 entering the fourth set on Sept. 21.
Preseason all-BIG EAST performer Jordanne Scott leads the Bearcats and is second in the BIG EAST with 428 kills, but is hitting just .203 on the year. Emily Hayden has 245 kills for the year and is hitting .352 in conference, which is good for sixth in the league.
A pair of attacking stars in Holly Mertens and Danielle Carson paces Marquette. Mertens (.422) and Carlson (.387) lead the league in attack percentage in conference matches, while Mertens averages 3.33 kills per set and Carlson averages 2.97.
The Golden Eagles stole a match from the Irish on Sept. 29 at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame dominated sets one (25-12) and three (25-13), but couldn’t eek out sets two (26-24) or four (27-25) as Marquette went on to roll the Irish in set five (15-7) to pick up the hard-fought five-set victory.
Friday will be Senior Day as the Irish honor senior student-athletes Hilary Eppink and Marie Roof. The pre-match ceremony will get underway just minutes before the scheduled 7 p.m. start. Fans can follow the match by way of live stats or UND.com’s free audio stream. Links for both are on UND.com.
Sunday’s contest with the Golden Eagles will also be available by way of live stats or fans can purchase Marquette’s video stream. Links for both will also be on UND.com.
– Head coach Debbie Brown is one game away from another milestone in her impressive coaching career … with one more win she’ll hit 500 wins at Notre Dame after hitting 600 career wins with a 3-1 win over Buffalo on Sept. 1 … in the Nov. 3 match against Seton Hall, Brown coached her 700th game with the Irish and 900th overall.
– This weekend’s scenario is simple for the Irish – just win … with two wins Notre Dame would lock up the BIG EAST regular season title and the No. 1 seed in next weekend’s BIG EAST Tournament … anything less would cause the Irish to scoreboard watch Louisville and Marquette … Notre Dame last won the BIG EAST’s regular season in 2009, which was also the last time the Irish have competed in the NCAA Tournament.
– Notre Dame is 10-6 all-time against Cincinnati including 4-4 in BIG EAST play … the Irish knocked off the Bearcats, 3-2, in Cincinnati on Sept. 21 this season.
– The Irish are 10-5 all-time against Marquette including 3-5 in the BIG EAST … earlier this season (Sept. 29) Notre Dame lost a five-set thriller to the Golden Eagles at home at Purcell.
– After producing 55 kills in the first 13 matches of the season, senior Hilary Eppink has been on fire once the Irish hit BIG EAST play, tallying 126 kills in her last 13 matches … Eppink is hitting .372 during the run, which is tops on the team for players over 70 kills, and is averaging 2.57 kills per set, which is third on the team.
– In BIG EAST play the Irish have been led by the hot hitting of outside hitter Jeni Houser and middle blocker Hilary Eppink … Houser has 155 kills and is hitting .364, while Eppink has 126 kills and is hitting .372 … Toni Alugbue leads the team with 157 kills in league play, good for an average of 3.27 per set.
– Freshman libero Taylor Morey has led or tied for the team lead in digs in 23 of 25 matches this season and has reached double-figures in 23 of 25 matches as well … has eight matches with 20-plus digs … has been named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week twice (Aug. 27, Nov. 5)
– After splitting setting duties for much of the first part of the season, junior tri-captain Maggie Brindock has turned in five 50-plus assist matches since Sept. 16 against Kansas … has nine matches with 40 or more assists this year.
– Junior Andie Olsen has been the most consistent blocker on the team as she has recorded at least one block in 24 of the 25 matches … she leads the Irish with 83 blocks and a 1.04 blocks per set average.
– Toni Alugbue has recorded double-doubles (kills and digs) in 10 matches including five straight matches from Sept. 14 – 23 … Maggie Brindock also has 11 (assists and digs), including a triple-double on Nov. 4 (12 kills, 38 assists, 11 digs) … the triple-double was the first for Notre Dame since 2004 and the 22nd in school history … Andrea McHugh has six (kills and digs).
– Including the matchup with Marquette on Sept. 29, Notre Dame opened BIG EAST play with the preseason one, two and four teams in the league … then-No. 10 Louisville was picked first (3-2 win), Marquette was picked second (3-2 loss), the Irish were picked third and Cincinnati was picked fourth (3-2 win) … Notre Dame went 3-1 in those matches.
– After losing to then-No. 1 UCLA (3-1), then-No. 4 Nebraska (3-0), then-No. 17 San Diego (3-2) and then-No. 5 USC (3-0) to open the season, the Irish picked up their first win over a ranked foe this season on Sept. 23 against then-No. 10 Louisville (3-2) … it was the first win over a ranked team since then-No. 5 Stanford on Sept. 29, 2009 (3-0).
– The win over Louisville also marked the first time this season Notre Dame has rallied from a 0-2 hole to win and improved the Irish to 3-1 in five-set matches this year.
– The Irish have broken three winning streaks of seven matches or longer this season … with a 3-1 win over Kansas (now No. 23), ND broke the Jayhawks’ nine-match winning streak … in a 3-2 come-from-behind win over then No. 10 Louisville (now No. 11), the Irish broke the Cardinals’ 10-match winning streak … with a 3-1 win over St. John’s, Notre Dame snapped the Red Storm’s seven-match winning streak.
– With a 3-1 win over Buffalo on Sept. 1, head coach Debbie Brown picked up her 600th career win … she won 117 at Arizona State from 1980-88 and has been with the Irish ever since … Brown also won her 100th BIG EAST regular-season home match with a win over St. John’s (3-1) on Oct. 7.