Sophomore Toni Alugbue has earned recognition from the BIG EAST four straight weeks.

Irish Drop A Pair Of Matches Against Highly-Ranked Foes

Box Score / #17 San Diego 3, Notre Dame 2 Get Acrobat Reader

No. 5 USC 3, Notre Dame 0 Get Acrobat Reader

No. 17 San Diego 3, Notre Dame 2

LOS ANGELES – In its first five-set match of the season, the Notre Dame volleyball team battled tooth and nail with the No. 17 San Diego Toreros, but fell just short, losing 3-2 despite a career-high 22 kills from sophomore Toni Alugbue on Saturday at the Galen Center.

The loss snaps Notre Dame’s four-match winning streak, which was its longest since Sept. 4-7 of last year.

The Irish entered the fifth set with confidence after taking the fourth set (25-20) behind Alugbue’s powerful right arm. San Diego jumped out to the early lead in the fifth set, leading by as many as three at 9-6. Notre Dame fought back behind kills from Andrea McHugh and Alugbue to inch to within one. However, the Toreros wouldn’t be denied as they ran off three consecutive points to push their lead to 12-8. After a service error put the score at 12-9, San Diego finished off the set and match with a kill from Carrie Baird and a pair of blocks by the Torero front line.

Baird and Alaysia Brown paced the Toreros with 13 kills each. Alugbue had a monster game for the Irish, setting a career high in kills with 22, while also tying her career high in digs with 12. She added four blocks and three digs. The Del Aire, Calif., product produced three 10-plus kill performances as a freshman, but has at least 10 in all eight matches this season including two 20-plus matches against Buffalo and the Toreros.

After starting the year off slow on defense at the nets, the Irish have turned in three consecutive double-digit block totals, including a season-high 16 against San Diego. Leading the way was senior tri-captain Marie Roof, who sent 10 shots back to the Toreros. Roof added three kills and five digs. Junior Andie Olsen had eight kills, including six in the first set, and six blocks, while Maggie Brindock had five kills, a team-high 27 assists, five digs and two blocks.

Notre Dame concludes the USC Classic Tournament on Saturday evening as they battle No. 5 USC at 10 p.m. ET. Fans can follow the match by way of live stats and free live audio. Links for both are provided on

The Irish looked strong in set one against the ranked Toreros, taking an early 1-0 lead with a 25-21 victory. Notre Dame was down early at 9-6, but kills by Hilary Eppink, Olsen and Alugbue knotted the score at nine. The Irish again battled back from a three-point deficit at 17-14 after a bad set from the Toreros, a service ace from Sammie Brown and a kill from Olsen tied the set at 17. The teams traded points until the Irish took a slim lead at 21-19 after another kill from Olsen and a block from Olsen and Alugbue. Notre Dame stretched the lead to 23-20 on a kill from Olsen and an attack error by San Diego. A kill by Marie Roof and another attack error from the Toreros gave the Irish the first set. Olsen had herself quite a first set with six kills on seven opportunities, good for a .857 attack percentage. Alugbue had four kills as the Irish hit .211 to .122 for the Toreros. The set saw nine ties and four lead changes.

San Diego rebounded in a big way in set two as they blew past Notre Dame 25-14 to tie the score at one entering the break. The Toreros hit .333 to just .032 for the Irish. Leading from beginning to end, the Toreros took a two-point lead at 12-10, and went on a 13-4 run to end the set. Four unforced attack errors hurt the Irish over the run.

In a thrilling third set, the Irish and Toreros battled back and forth and needed extra points to decide the matter. Down to its final point at 24-22, Notre Dame tied the set at 24 on a kill by Alugbue and a block by Houser and Roof. A kill by Katie Hoekman gave San Diego a one-point lead, but Alugbue knotted the score at 25 with another kill. An attack error by McHugh put the Toreros on the brink of victory, but a kill by Houser tied the score at 26. However, San Diego wouldn’t be denied as kills by Chloe Ferrari and Sandra Lozic gave the Toreros the 28-26 win, and a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth set. Alugbue had seven kills in the third set, upping her total to 13.

Notre Dame rebounded to take the fourth set and send the match to five. The Irish made their big move midway through the set with the score knotted at nine. Alugbue continued her dominating performance with three consecutive kills to give Notre Dame a 12-9 lead. The squad held a 3-4 point lead throughout the remainder of the set, pushing it to five on a Houser kill at 24-19. Houser ended the set herself with a block to give the set its final score at 25-20. Alugbue had seven kills on the set to lead the Irish.

No. 5 USC 3, Notre Dame 0

LOS ANGELES – Behind 21 kills and nine digs from Katie Fuller, No. 5 USC overcame deficits in two sets to sweep the Notre Dame volleyball 3-0 on the final day of the USC Classic Tournament at Galen Center on Saturday.

In a match that was much closer than the score indicated, the Trojans overcame a 24-22 deficit in set one and a 21-19 deficit in set two to take a 2-0 lead into the break on their way to the three-set win.

In addition to Fuller, Samantha Bricio had 12 kills and Hayley Crone had 43 assists and 12 digs. The Irish were led by their usual one-two punch of Jeni Houser and Toni Alugbue, who had 14 and 13 kills, respectively. Senior Hilary Eppink had eight kills on her way to a .467 hitting night.

For her efforts all weekend, Alugbue earned a spot on the all-tournament weekend.

The Irish hit a respectable .286 for the match, including .333 in both the first and third sets. However, USC hit .319 including .429 in the third set.

The Irish (5-4) return home to the friendly confines of Purcell Pavilion next weekend for the Golden Dome Invitational. Notre Dame welcomes in Xavier, Kansas and Loyola Marymount. A full schedule and more information can be found on the tournament central webpage here.

In an evenly played set from beginning to end, Notre Dame had its opportunity to take an early 1-0 lead over the highly-ranked Trojans, but USC scored four consecutive points to steal the first set 26-24. Neither team could muster more than a three point lead throughout, with USC taking the first one at 15-12. Notre Dame fought back though on the strength of a kill by Eppink and a service ace from Sammie Brown to inch closer at 15-14. The Trojans pulled ahead again at 19-16, but behind the serving of Morey, the Irish retook the lead. After the Muncie, Ind., product was handed the ball at 19-17, a kill by Alugbue and a block by Andie Olsen and Alugbue knotted the score at 19. An attack error by USC gave Notre Dame a lead at 20-19. The teams traded points before a Houser kill gave the Irish set point at 24-22. Notre Dame had multiple opportunities to take the set on offense, but the Trojans rallied together on defense and used a pair of kills from Samantha Bricio to edge past the Irish for the 1-0 lead. Notre Dame was led by five kills each from Houser and Eppink, while Alugbue tallied four.

For the second consecutive set Notre Dame saw a late lead disappear at the hands of the Trojans as USC took a 2-0 lead into the break with a 25-22 victory. The Irish held five-point leads at 9-4, 10-5, 11-6 and 20-15 and six-point leads at 10-4 and 11-5, but USC rallied each time. A triple block by Eppink, Olsen and Sammie Brown gave the Irish a 22-20 lead, but Notre Dame wouldn’t score again as the Trojans ran off the final five points of the set. Katie Fuller had three consecutive kills to give USC set point and a service ace from Hayley Crone gave the Trojans point No. 25.

The Trojans closed out the match with a 25-19 third-set victory. Notre Dame kept it close for a portion of the final frame, but USC went on a 4-0 run that turned an 11-10 contest into a 15-10 match and kept the Irish playing in catch-up mode for the remainder of the set.