Nov. 28, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A non-conference matchup between the Notre Dame volleyball team and Xavier went the way of the Irish at the Joyce Center on Friday by a 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-22) margin. Notre Dame (17-14 overall, 9-5 BIG EAST) wrapped up the season by sending seniors Mallorie Croal and Justine Stremick out with the 80th overall victory in the duo’s four seasons.
Xavier fell to 16-15 overall after registering an 8-5 mark in Atlantic 10 Conference regular season action.
Both freshman Kristen Dealy and junior Christina Kaelin had 10 kills to pace the Irish, who hit .225 as a team in the three-setter. Sophomore Kellie Sciacca was next in line with eight kills on five blocks with Stremick tossing down five kills while stuffing six attacks – three of the solo variety. Sophomore Megan Dunne had 14 digs to lead Notre Dame, just ahead of freshman Frenchy Silva’s total of 10.
The Musketeers were guided by Hillary Otte’s 11 kills and Jenn Welsh’s 32 handouts.
Action started with a smooth serve from Croal. Soon after, Notre Dame turned a 6-7 deficit into a 13-9 lead behind a pair of Dealy swats during a 4-0 Irish run. The Irish were able to hold off a Xavier rally that narrowed the count to 24-23 before Dealy crushed set point. The momentum shifted Notre Dame’s way with a clutch kill by junior Serinity Phillips at 24-22 that ended an elongated rally.
Dealy had six of Notre Dame’s 20 kills in the set and junior setter Jamel Nicholas was a flawless 3-for-3 from the field with 16 dimes. Notre Dame swung at a .405 rate in the set.
Sciacca pounded a rebound at 2-4 in the second set followed by Dealy’s cutter at 3-5. Kaelin lassoed a kill from the left side (6-6) before Xavier retook the lead (7-8) with a combo block by Kelly Ruth and Chelsea Campbell. It was 9-9 on a Musketeer error and Notre Dame was on the move. Dunne’s service ace set the table for Notre Dame’s largest lead, 22-15, leaving freshman Beth Wildermuth to clean up the act with a pair of assists to Sciacca for the closing credits.
The Irish offensive attack could only muster a .059 hitting average in the second set, although it was enough to score the win as Xavier hit -.029 with 10 kills and 11 errors. The home team faired better in the final frame with a .182 clip and 15 kills.
The third set started with a Nicholas ace followed by a pair of blocks by Sciacca and Phillips. Sciacca’s tip over the Musketeer double block gave the Irish the lead temporarily (10-9) and Phillips added a roller (12-9) prior to a 4-0 Xavier spurt. Sciacca broke the 15-15 stalemate with a crosser and junior Kim Kristoff set up match point by putting one in the chimney at 24-19.
Notre Dame stapled the campaign by winning four of its last five matches and claimed a runner-up finish at the BIG EAST Championship. Stremick left her mark on the Irish record books with a .307 hitting percentage – the fourth-best all-time – and Notre Dame’s seventh-best block total (437).