Nov. 2, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Riding an eight-match winning streak, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team hits the road for another weekend of BIG EAST action as the Irish face off against Seton Hall and Rutgers in New Jersey.
Notre Dame (17-6, 10-1 BIG EAST) meet the Pirates at 2 p.m. on Saturday in South Orange, N.J., before making the short trip to Piscataway, N.J., for a 2 p.m. Sunday showdown with the Scarlet Knights.
Fans can follow both matches through live video or live stats. Rutgers offers free online video, while Seton Hall’s video is $5.95 for a monthly subscription. Links are available for all on UND.com.
Last weekend the Irish took down Pittsburgh (3-1) and USF (3-0) at home to clinch a spot in the upcoming BIG EAST Tournament (Nov. 116-18). For her efforts in helping Notre Dame to victory, senior Hilary Eppink earned a spot on the BIG EAST’s Weekly Honor Roll. The Westfield, Ind., native had 22 kills and 10 blocks in two matches while hitting .429. In conference matches Eppink is second in the league in hitting percentage (.387).
Following a difficult non-conference schedule the Irish have soared up the rankings of BIG EAST stats once they hit conference play. The Irish are first in blocks per set (2.76), second in hitting percentage (.260), third in assists per set (12.92) and kills per set (13.74) and fourth in opponent hitting percentage (.174). In conference matches, the Irish are first in hitting percentage (.292), opponent hitting percentage (.153) and blocks per set (.3.07), third in kills per set (13.78) and service aces per set (1.27) and fourth in assists per set (12.80).
After starting off the year 5-4, with all four losses coming to teams in the AVCA top-20, the Irish have won 13 of their last 15 matches, including their current eight match win streak over BIG EAST competition.
Seton Hall (17-7, 5-6 BIG EAST) started off the year 15-1, but has hit a snag in BIG EAST play, as the Pirates have lost six of their last eight. Last week the Pirates lost to St. John’s (3-1) and Connecticut (3-2) on the road.
Sisters Stacey and Shelbey Manthorpe lead Seton Hall. Despite a low attack percentage, the sisters have found the floor of their opponent’s court regularly. Stacey leads the Pirates with 277 kills, averaging 2.98 per set, while Shelbey has 201 kills, averaging 2.16 per set. Shelbey was a preseason all-BIG EAST selection.
Rutgers (17-9, 3-8 BIG EAST) began the year very similarly to Seton Hall as it started off 14-1, but has struggled once it reached conference play. Last week the Scarlet Knights split a pair of matches as they lost at Connecticut (3-0) before winning at St. John’s (3-2).
Sarah Schmid, who ranks second in the conference in hitting percentage (.359) and 10th in kills per set (3.25), leads the Scarlet Knights. Setter Stephanie Zielinski is second in the league in assists per set at 11.25.
Following the weekend, the Irish return home for Senior Day on Friday, Nov. 9 when they play host to BIG EAST foe Cincinnati. Seniors Hilary Eppink and Marie Roof will both be honored pre-match for their contributions on and off the court for the Notre Dame volleyball program. Senior Day festivities will get underway a about a few minutes before the scheduled 7 p.m. (ET) first serve.
– Notre Dame is a perfect 18-0 against Seton Hall all-time including 17-0 in BIG EAST play. Fifteen of the matches have been three sets, with the other three going four. Last year the Irish won 3-1 (25-19, 22-25, 25-22, 25-17) at Purcell Pavilion.
– The Irish are 19-0 against Rutgers, including 17-0 in BIG EAST matches. Only one of the 19 matches have gone past three sets. Last year Notre Dame won 3-0 (25-15, 25-11, 25-17) at Purcell Pavilion.
– 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 97 kills in her last 10 matches … Eppink is hitting .392 during the run, which is tops on the team for players over 50 kills, and is averaging 2.69 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 127 kills and is hitting .357, while Eppink has 102 kills and is hitting .387 … Toni Alugbue leads the team with 128 kills in league play, good for an average of 3.20 per set.
– Freshman libero Taylor Morey has led or tied for the team lead in digs in 21 of 23 matches this season and has reached double-figures in 21 of 23 matches as well … has six matches with 20-plus digs.
– After splitting setting duties for much of the first part of the season, junior tri-captain Maggie Brindock has turned in four 50-plus assist matches since Sept. 16 against Kansas … has eight 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 22 of the 23 matches … she leads the Irish with 75 blocks and a 1.04 blocks per set average.
– Toni Alugbue has recorded double-doubles (kills and digs) in nine matches including five straight matches from Sept. 14 – 23 … Maggie Brindock also has nine (assists and digs) … 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. 20), ND broke the Jayhawks’ nine-match winning streak … in a 3-2 come-from-behind win over then No. 10 Louisville (now No. 12), 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 … Brown is only three wins away from 500 in her Irish career.