Senior Justine Stremick had eight kills without an error in a 3-2 loss at Villanova.

Irish Edged By Villanova, 3-2

Oct. 25, 2008

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VILLANOVA, Pa. – Three Notre Dame volleyball players notched double-doubles Saturday versus Villanova at the Jake Nevin Fieldhouse but the Irish could not withstand a late Wildcat rally in the fifth set, falling 3-2 (25-18, 25-26, 25-23, 25-16, 15-10) in the BIG EAST Conference match. The contest marked the second consecutive time Villanova defeated Notre Dame in five sets after capturing its first-ever win over the Irish last season at the Joyce Center.

Notre Dame’s offensive attack was paced by junior Serinity Philips’ 11 kills and 22 digs. Phillips’ dig total tied for the team-high on the season as sophomore Megan Dunne had 22 against Western Michigan. Freshman Kristen Dealy recorded her team-high sixth double-double of the season – and third in the last four outings – with 15 kills and 15 digs while junior Jamel Nicholas assisted on 31 kills and contributed a season-high 19 digs. Junior Christina Kaelin totaled 13 kills and senior Justine Stremick had eight kills on 16 errorless swings and helped block seven shots.

The Wildcats were led by Dana Tartazky’s 21 kills and 14 digs. Setter Chelsea Garman had 53 dishes and Kim Maroon scooped 24 shots on defense.

Notre Dame is now 0-3 in five-set matches this season and 2-9 in matches extending past the three-set minimum. The 91-dig total was the highest of the season for the Irish. Notre Dame last eclipsed the 90-dig plateau during a 2007 fall break trip to LSU (97).

The contest featured 29 tied scores and 14 lead changes while lasting 2:19, Notre Dame’s longest match in the 25-point era.

A four-match road swing for the Irish concludes Sunday (Oct. 26) at Seton Hall.

Villanova (12-11 overall, 3-4 BIG EAST) started the match with a 4-0 run until Notre Dame (10-11 overall, 5-3 BIG EAST) got on the board when Kaelin went inside on a crosser. Kaelin went with the short cross again (4-7) when Villanova went on a 3-0 spurt and led by 21-12 before Dealy connected with a pair of quick kills.

Kaelin and Dealy each had four kills in the first set with Phillips adding a pair. The Wildcats hit .371 in the first frame behind Tartazky’s six kills.

Scrappy play kept Notre Dame in the hunt during round two as Stremick led the fight with her third block of the match, joining Dealy on the right side for the stuff after the opening serve. Stremick added a tip and the Irish built a 6-3 lead when Phillips went over the block for the score. Villanova stood strong and went ahead, 8-7, when the Irish mishandled an overpass. Notre Dame regained the lead (18-17) on a Wildcat hitting error but gave it right back with a faulted serve. Sophomore Kellie Sciacca scored with a tip (23-22) and Villanova took the next two points before Dealy capped off an intense rally with a rip from the left side (24-24). Dealy and Stremick blocked a Wildcat attack one play later (25-24) and the first-year outside hitter recorded her fourth kill of the frame to take set point. Stremick finished with three kills and three blocks in the set.

Villanova outkilled the Irish in each of the first two sets, 31-24, but hit .076 in the second frame.

The second straight frame decided by two points began with Stremick’s shot out the pantry door and into the scorebooks in set three, followed by Kaelin’s rocket down the left line. Kaelin tipped her own rebound (3-3) and Nicholas dinked the Wildcat defense (7-5) with Dealy adding one of her three aces on the day at 11-7. Back came the Wildcats, this time tying the set (14-14) on an Irish ball handling error. The home team’s run continued as they took a 19-16 lead that was narrowed to 20-19 when Dealy’s ace grazed the shoulder of a Villanova defender and bounced out for the score. But the ensuing back-and-fourth battles would ultimately result in a Wildcat win.

Notre Dame was ahead in the fourth set, 7-6, courtesy of a block by Nicholas and Sciacca and found itself behind by an 8-11 count soon after. But the Irish countered with the biggest run of the season – and recent program history – by rattling off nine unanswered points to take a 17-11 lead. Villanova was able to somewhat recover, closing the gap to 18-15, though lost hope as the Irish mashed five straight points en route to tying the match at two sets each.

The Irish managed only five kills on 19 swings in the final frame with Villanova racking a .320 hitting percentage with nine kills and only one error to earn its second win in the 18-match series history.