November 21, 1998
(PITTSBURGH, Pa.) – – Behind the efforts of All-BIG EAST selections Marcie Bomhack, Christi Girton and Lindsay Treadwell, the Notre Dame women’s volleyball team beat tournament host Pittsburgh 15-10, 14-16, 15-8, 16-14 in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament held at the University of Pittsburgh’s Fitzgerald Fieldhouse.
Girton (Muncie, Ind.) led the team by tying a season-high with 19 kills. Bomhack (Waukesha, Wis.), meanwhile, contributed 16 kills and Treadwell(Austin, Texas) had 10 kills and 15 digs for her 12th double-double (kills/digs) of the season.
The Panthers opened up game one with a 4-0 run, before the Irish could score on a block by Bomhack and Mary Leffers (Tampa, Fla.). Notre Dame scored the next two points on a Pittsburgh hitting error and another block by Girton and Treadwell. The Panthers answered back with a point to move their lead to 5-3, however, a kill by Bomhack and a block by Kristy Kreher(Birmingham, Mich.) and Leffers pulled the Irish even. The score was tied again at seven and nine all, before the Irish took their first lead of the match at 10-9 on a ball handling error on Pitt setter Lisa Riggle. The Panthers tied the game again at 10-10, but the Irish responded with three points to move the score to 13-10, their largest lead. Notre Dame got its first game point following a kill by Bomhack at 14-10. The Irish took two game points to wrap up the game 15-10 on a kill by Leffers.
The Irish used their momentum to open up game two with a 7-0 run. The Panthers got on the board with four consecutive points to pull within three, 7-4, prior to an Irish timeout. After the two teams traded several sideouts, the Panthers scored again on a ball handling error on Bomhack. Bomhack made up for her error a few plays later with a kill for a point following a dig by Girton. Emily Schiebout (Blaine, Minn.) served the next two points to up the Irish lead to 10-5. A Notre Dame net violation and three hitting errors allowed the Panthers to come within one at 10-9. The Irish scored three more points, but Pitt responded with three of its own to get within one at 13-12. An ace by Bomhack gave the Irish their first game point at 14-12, but after a Pitt sideout, the Panthers tied the match at 14-14 on two straight blocks, and got its first game point at 15-14 after a Irish hitting error. Paula Zemrowski then put away her team’s first game point for the 16-14 come from behind game two win.
In game three, the Irish once again opened with an early 4-0 on the serve of Girton. A Panther block and two big kills cut into the Irish lead at 4-3. The Notre Dame lead was back to three after a series of Pitt hitting errors and a kill by Bomhack. The two teams traded points, and at 8-6, the Panthers were back within two. A kill by Kreher and a block by Leffers allowed the Irish to return again to the 10-6, four-point lead. The score remained 10-6 through several rotations until the Irish scored on a block by Schiebout and a Pittsburgh hitting error. Kreher then increased the Irish lead on a difficult cross-court kill, but the Panthers got back to within six on an ace. The Irish wrapped up the game three, 15-8, win following a Pittsburgh hitting error.
Game four opened with another Notre Dame lead at 2-0, but the Panthers did not allow the Irish to get ahead, responding with three points of their own to take the 3-2 lead. A kill by Leffers evened the match at three apiece, before a Panther hitting error, a Kreher ace and a Leffers kill allowed the Irish to build a 6-3 advantage. Three more Panther points got Pitt back to the 6-6 tie, and took the two-point lead two plays later on a Zemrowski kill and block. A Girton kill followed by a Panther kill for a point held the score at 9-7, a two-point Pitt advantage. A Panther hitting error and a Bomhack and Treadwell block knotted the score at 9-9. A Pitt ace and a block for a point allowed them to retake the lead at 11-9, but a Girton kill and another Pitt hitting error brought the score back to a tie at 11 all. A Schiebout ace allowed the Irish to once again take the lead at 12-11, before Pittsburgh scored on an ace and a kill. A ball handling error on Notre Dame setter Michelle Graham (Austin, Texas) allowed the Panthers to get its first game point at 14-12. A Zemrowski hitting error pulled the Irish within one of the tie at 14-13 and several plays later a Bomhack kill pulled the Irish into the 14-14 tie. On the very next play, the Panthers hit the ball out and allowed the Irish to get its own game point. Two game and match points later, the Irish won the game and match 16-14.
With the win, the Irish advance to the semifinals against the second-seeded University of Connecticut Huskies at 7:30 p.m. later tonight, November 21. In the two teams only regular season meeting this year, the Huskies broke Notre Dame’s 78-match win streak against conference opponents with a 3-2 win.