Oct. 4, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Louisville native Christina Kaelin tallied 14 kills in a homecoming match of sorts in front of a packed Cardinal Arena Saturday afternoon. The junior outside hitter hit .344 in the Notre Dame volleyball team’s 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-23) win against BIG EAST Conference rival Louisville, the first sweep on the Cardinals’ home floor since the first ever meeting between the two programs on Oct. 11, 1986. It was just the fourth sweep over Louisville for Notre Dame in the 22-match series history.
Notre Dame (8-7 overall, 3-0 BIG EAST) held steady against a solid all-around Louisville (5-8 overall, 1-2 BIG EAST) team to hit .319 for the match, with the Cardinals putting up a .348 average. Serinity Phillips, seeing her first action since an injury two weeks ago, had 11 kills and Kristen Dealy registered 11 as well. The Irish were led by Jamel Nicholas’ 47 assists, and the setter added six kills. Megan Dunne paced the Irish with nine digs, also notching a pair of aces along with Nicholas and Dealy.
The Cardinals, voted the preseason favorite to win the BIG EAST Championship, received 11 kills from Justine Landi and six blocks from Lecia Brown.
A late run made up for a slow Irish start in set one. The Cardinals started the match with a 3-0 spurt that Kellie Sciacca stopped by pounding an overpass. Nicholas won a joust to make it a 5-3 set in Louisville’s favor. Then a steady run featuring a kill and ace from Dealy turned the set into an 11-11 affair. Louisville took the next two points before Kaelin delivered from the left side on consecutive occasions (13-13). Yet again, UofL answered with three straight point halted by Nicholas’ dump. Kaelin hit off the block (15-18) and Dealy drilled a kill (16-18) to set the scene for Phillips and her rightside slam to tie the set again (18-18). A cross by Dealy (19-19) and a Sciacca conversion on the slide made it 21-20 before Dealy aced the Cardinal defense to give Notre Dame a two-point lead. The teams traded points when Kaelin took one of Nicholas’ 15 assists in the set to pound town (24-22). Nicholas put the icing on the cake with an ace for set’s final point.
Sciacca, who totaled five kills in the first set, registered Notre Dame’s first two points of the second set. Kaelin hit through the block (4-3) then Notre Dame’s fourth ace of the match came one play later off a Nicholas stroke (5-3). The Cardinals counted on Brown’s efforts to take a brief lead that was snatched away with Phillips’ crank (7-7). Four of the next five scores went the way of the Irish to force a UofL timeout. But Notre Dame kept its momentum out of the break with efficient passing and precision hitting, taking a 14-9 lead with Sciacca’s tip into the heart of the Cardinal defense. Both teams tossed a rash of service errors halted by Dunne’s ace (19-15). The Cards rallied to cut the Irish lead to one point on four occasions until Kaelin let loose with a rocket from the left end things (25-23).
Notre Dame recovered from a .250 hitting mark in the first set to post a .350 clip in set two. The team had 18 kills in each of the first two sets but also totaled five service errors. Louisville carried a .339 attack average heading into intermission.
Neither team led by more than two points to start the third stanza until the Irish claimed a 12-9 advantage. That led grew to four with Scaicca’s ace (13-9). Phillips helped a stuttering Irish attack with a kill (15-13), though Louisville’s defense recorded one of its nine team blocks on the day to tie the set, 15-15. A hard earned kill from Dealy (19-17) and a convincing Nicholas spike on the second ball (20-18) were enough to energize Notre Dame through the remainder of the period.
The Irish travel to Cincinnati on Sunday (Oct. 5) for a BIG EAST matchup with the Bearcats. The contest will be televised live on ESPNU at 2:00 p.m. (ET).