Oct. 21, 2012
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – The University of Notre Dame volleyball team picked up its fifth BIG EAST sweep in six matches on Sunday at Nevin Field House as the Irish won their sixth straight match with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-13) triumph over the Villanova Wildcats.
The Irish jumped on the Wildcats from the beginning of the match, avenging a 3-1 setback last year at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame used a strong net presence that blocked 11 Villanova attacks to help offset an offense that only hit .202. The Irish defense limited the Wildcats to a .016 attack percentage.
Four Irish attackers had five or more kills with senior Hilary Eppink leading the way with nine as she hit .318. Sophomore Jeni Houser had eight kills, four blocks and three digs, while junior Nicole Smith had five kills and no errors in 13 opportunities. Junior Andrea McHugh chipped in with seven kills and also had six digs. Setter Maggie Brindock had 30 assists, six digs and three blocks and freshman Taylor Morey tallied 19 digs. Junior Sammie Brown also reached double-digits in digs as she had 11.
The first set was controlled by the Irish as they quickly jumped out to an 8-2 lead behind the serving of Toni Alugbue and Morey. The Wildcats cut the lead to 11-8 on a kill by Colleen Hickey, but the Irish went on a 7-1 run to effectively put the set out of reach at 19-8. The squads traded points before Eppink gave the Irish a 1-0 lead with a kill that ended the first frame at 25-15. Villanova hit .000 in the opening set as it had seven kills and seven errors.
Villanova hung with the Irish throughout much of the second set, as the Wildcats trailed by just two at 15-13. However, Notre Dame quickly regained a sizable advantage as a pair of kills by Houser gave the Irish a 17-13 advantage. From there the lead grew behind the serving of Brown. Kills from three separate Irish attackers and a block from seniors Marie Roof and Eppink pushed the margin to eight at 22-14. After the Wildcats trimmed the lead to 22-17, Notre Dame received a kill from McHugh to make the lead 23-17. Smith ended the set with a kill to give the Irish a 2-0 lead (25-18) heading into the break. The Irish limited the Wildcats to a .029 attack percentage.
The Irish closed out the match with a 25-13 win in set three. Notre Dame jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead behind the serving of Morey and never looked back as it held leads of eight or more on several occasions. Back-to-back blocks by the Irish pushed the lead to 23-12 and pair of Wildcat miscues in a service error and attack error gave Notre Dame the win. Villanova hit just .022 for the final frame.
Notre Dame returns home after a perfect 3-0 road trip at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26 as it plays host to Pittsburgh in the Joyce Center’s North Dome. Purcell Pavilion will be occupied that night by the NBA’s Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers as the two squads meet in an exhibition contest at 7 p.m. On Sunday the Irish welcome in USF for their annual Dig Pink match. First serve is set for 2 p.m.