Aug. 28, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A highly efficient offensive attack spurred the Notre Dame volleyball team to a season-opening win over Denver to start the 2009 season Friday evening at the Joyce Center Fieldhouse. The Irish hit .422 as a squad behind senior Serinity Phillips’ 13 kills and eight digs. Phillips hit at a .579 rate to lead all players and added three blocks.
The 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-16) victory in front of 1,504 fans not only gave the host Irish a win to begin the four-team Shamrock Invitational, but improved the program’s record to 23-7 in home openers (18-1 under head coach Debbie Brown). It was the first-ever meeting between Notre Dame (1-0) and Denver (0-1).
No. 5 Stanford defeated LSU, 3-2, in the evening’s opening match. The Irish will face Stanford at 6:00 p.m. (ET) on Saturday (Aug. 29). Live video, audio and stats will be available at UND.com. For up-to-the-minute scores and highlights, sign up for IRISH ALERT text-messaging services at UND.com.
Notre Dame hit .355, .500 and .419 in the respective sets under the direction of senior setter Jamel Nicholas. Nicholas handed out 36 of Notre Dame’s 42 assists with seven digs along with an ace on the first play of the match. Sophomore Kristen Dealy narrowly missed out on a double-double with nine kills and a match-high 13 digs. Junior Kellie Sciacca slammed eight kills on 16 attempts with one error for a .467 clip while seniors Tara Enzweiler and Megan Fesl each finished with six kills. Enzweiler also made the most of her starting role with three blocks.
Jordan Raines paced the Pioneers with eight kills. The two teams combined for 19 service errors and knotted the score three times with just three lead changes.
After Nicholas’ opening ace, Dealy connected from the left side as the Irish jumped ahead to a 3-0 lead. Phillips and Enzweiler teamed for a rejection at 5-1 and did so again at 17-11. Phillips clipped the net with a kill (22-13) to match Notre Dame’s highest lead of the set, and her backrow attack took libero Kacie Wikierak off her feet to give the outside hitter her seventh kill of the period (24-16).
Phillips and Enzweiler tagged another block at 3-2 in the second frame, then Enzweiler took a quick set from Nicholas and landed it in the back left corner for Notre Dame’s sixth point. The two squads traded scores but Denver never found its momentum as the Irish kept a number of broken plays alive with wrenching efforts. A 13-10 Irish lead soon turned into a 17-11 rout after Denver hit long on a pair of attacks. Junior Stephanie Slatt kept the serve in Notre Dame’s favor as the Irish forced a pair of Pioneer timeouts late in the frame and Enzweiler turned on the heat with a pair of slams off Nicholas’ floaters.
Sciacca saved five of her kills for the final set, and senior Christina Kaelin’s first swing was good for one off her three kills (3-1) as she saw her first action of the evening in the third stanza. Nicolas decided to catch the defense off guard by going over after the bump to give Notre Dame a 5-2 lead. Dealy went through the double block at 6-2 then dumped an overpass two plays later. Denver came within four (18-14) but never seriously threatened after freshman Hilary Eppink got in the books with her first career kill at 16-11 and then added a solo block on the next rally.