Sept. 14, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame and Xavier volleyball teams played a wild five-set affair on Friday night at Purcell Pavilion in the second game of the Golden Dome Invitational, with the Irish claiming the 3-2 (25-19, 18-25, 25-18, 28-30, 15-6) victory behind 19 kills from sophomore Jeni Houser.
After Xavier produced a remarkable rally in the fourth set to extend the match to a fifth frame, the Irish came out and dominated from the start, taking an 8-4 lead as the teams switched sides. A kill by senior Hilary Eppink gave Notre Dame the serve at 10-5. Freshman Taylor Morey served as the Irish tallied two more points on a block from Marie Roof and Alugbue and an attack error from Sarah Brown. After the Musketeers broke serve, Notre Dame put the match away with a block from Roof and Houser and a service ace from Maggie Brindock.
The Irish (6-4) had double-digit kill totals from Houser, Toni Alugbue and McHugh to pace the squad past the pesky Musketeers (7-5). McHugh tallied a double-double with 11 kills and 17 digs, while Alugbue powered home 15 kills and 17 digs and had four blocks. Houser added nine digs and three blocks to go along with her 19 kills. Brindock meanwhile set the table time after time for the Irish hitters, assisting on 47 kills, just one shy of tying her career standard. She also added 12 digs and five blocks. Morey joined her three teammates in double-figure digs with 16. Roof continued to alter shots at the net with seven blocks, while Eppink had an efficient six kill, four dig and four-block night.
Notre Dame had 15 blocks to nine for Xavier and had five service aces to just one for the Musketeers.
With the win the Irish improve to 4-0 at home and 1-1 in five-set matches this season.
The Irish jumped out to a 1-0 lead with an impressive 25-19 victory in which they hit .342 led by Houser’s six kills. The Musketeers were tied with the Irish as late 13 all, but Notre Dame went on a 7-3 run to take a 20-16 lead. Five different players recorded kills during the run. Xavier trimmed the lead to three at 21-18, but a kill by Alugbue and a ball handling error by Aubree Smith upped the lead to five at 23-18. After a kill by Alex Smith, Houser and Alugbue ended the set with two straight kills.
Xavier rallied after set one to knot the match at one entering the break, taking set two, 25-18. The Irish were only down one at 13-12, but Sarah Brown got the serve and behind three consecutive kills from Aubree Smith and a kill from Alex Smith the Musketeers raced to an 18-12 lead. Xavier held at least a four-point lead for the remainder of the set, finishing it off with kills from Alex Smith and S. Brown.
The Irish came out of the break on fire behind the hitting of Houser, who had four kills in the first 14 points to give Notre Dame a quick 10-4 lead. The Musketeers rallied multiple times, cutting the lead to two at 11-9, 18-16 and 19-17. However, the Irish wouldn’t be defeated as Alugbue had a pair of kills and Xavier had three miscues to give Notre Dame the 25-18 victory. Houser had her second six-kill set of the match as she hit .455 for the set.
A wild fourth set saw Xavier force a fifth and deciding set with a 30-28 win. The Irish had opportunities to win the match on multiple occasions including 24-22, 25-24, 26-25 and 27-26, but the Musketeers wouldn’t go away. Kills by Sarah Brown and Alex Smith gave Xavier its first lead in the extra session. After an Andie Olsen block tied the set at 28, Smith had another kill to put the Musketeers on the brink. A Houser attack error gave Xavier the set and forced the final set.