LOS ANGELES – Behind 17 kills from sophomore Jeni Houser and 31 assists, nine digs and six kills from junior tri-captain Maggie Brindock, the Notre Dame volleyball team opened the USC Classic Tournament in winning fashion on Friday night at the Galen Center as the Irish swept Cal Poly, 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-20). With the win Notre Dame runs its winning streak to four matches, which is the longest since Sept. 11 – Sept. 24, 2011. The win marked the third 3-0 sweep on the season for the Irish.
The Irish (5-2) had their way with the Mustangs throughout the match, dominating the nets as they out-blocked Cal Poly, 11-3. Notre Dame also out hit them .354 to .022, pounding out 47 kills to Cal Poly’s 22. The Mustangs were held to a .000 attack percentage in each of the last two sets.
Leading the way up front for Notre Dame was Houser, who turned in her seventh double-digit kill performance of the season, hit a career-high .586 for the match. She also added in three digs and three blocks. Brindock had a career-best hitting percentage (.667) as she came within one dig of a double-double. Sophomore Toni Alugbue had 10 kills while hitting .304. Freshman Taylor Morey led the team in digs again with 11.
“Cal Poly had no answer for Jeni tonight at the net,” said head coach Debbie Brown. “Similar to Toni last week against Buffalo, to have no errors in that many attempts is impressive. She was also getting up on defense and disrupting their offense all night at the net.”
Notre Dame returns to action on Saturday with a pair of matches against top ranked foes. The Irish get underway with a 3 p.m. ET showdown with No. 17 San Diego, before clashing with No. 5 USC at 10 p.m ET. Both matches can be followed via live stats and through live video. Links to both are provided on UND.com.
The Irish claimed the early 1-0 lead (25-17) after going on a 17-8 run to end the set. Trailing 9-8, Notre Dame went to work behind its front line as a pair of kills by Alugbue and a kill by Roof gave the Irish an 11-9 advantage. The Irish extended their lead to four on a service ace from Roof, and pushed their lead to five at 19-14 on another Roof kill. A service ace by Morey and a block by Roof and Brindock put the Irish within three points of winning the set. After the squads traded points to get to 23-17, Notre Dame ended the set with kills by Houser and Roof. Houser hit .714 for the first set with five kills, while Roof had three kills, three blocks and a service ace. Notre Dame had five blocks and two service aces and hit .324 to the Mustangs’ .059 for the first set.
Notre Dame opened on fire in set two, racing out to a 6-2 lead. However, the Mustangs came roaring back, taking nine of the next 11 points to gain an 11-8 advantage. The Irish didn’t falter and rebounded by going on a 14-7 run to end the set (25-18) and take a 2-0 lead into the break. The Irish made their big move behind the serving of Roof as a pair of kills by Houser and two consecutive blocks by Irish defenders gave Notre Dame an 18-13 lead. Cal Poly trimmed the lead to as few as four at 20-16, but couldn’t defend the Irish front line or setter Brindock as Alugbue and Brindock each had two kills in the final five points. Brindock attacked on both without offering a set to her Irish teammates, catching the Mustangs out of position both times. Houser continued her dominating performance with her 14th kill of the match to end the set. The Louisville, Ky., native had a remarkable nine kills in the set, while Brindock chipped in three kills, 12 assists and four digs.
The Irish closed out the match with a 25-20 win in set three as they hit .400 and held the Mustangs to a .000 attack percentage. Cal Poly led as late as 15-14, but couldn’t hold off Notre Dame. Behind the offense and serving of sophomore Meg Vonderhaar, Notre Dame went on a 4-0 run to reclaim the lead. Vonderhaar pounded down a kill to tie the score at 15 and then served the next three points. The Irish extended their lead to 24-19 on a kill by Houser and an attack error from the Mustangs and then ended it with Houser’s 17th kill of the match.