First team all-BIG EAST performer Toni Alugbue leads the Irish into the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday.

Irish Stun Bearcats In Five Sets On Senior Night

Nov. 9, 2012

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Notre Dame 3, Cincinnati 2Get Acrobat Reader

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Trailing 2-0 the University of Notre Dame volleyball team didn’t give up as it rallied for a 3-2 (17-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-16, 15-8) win over Cincinnati on senior night at Purcell Pavilion Friday evening.

Facing a sweep, the Irish went to work after the break, winning the third set, 25-22, before breezing past the Bearcats in the fourth and fifth sets. It was only the second time all season Notre Dame had come back from a 0-2 deficit, with the first coming at No. 10 Louisville on Sept. 23. Notre Dame won the season series with the Bearcats, 2-0, with both matches going to decisive five sets.

The fifth set was all Notre Dame, as they jumped out to a 4-1 lead behind the serving of Maggie Brindock and didn’t look back. An attack error on the Bearcats gave Notre Dame an 8-3 lead at the side change. The Irish improved their lead to 12-6 on a kill from Toni Alugbue and another kill from Alugbue closed out the match to give Notre Dame the thrilling 3-2 win in front of 1,754 fans.

With the win, the Irish (20-6, 13-1 BIG EAST) continue to control their own destiny in regards to next weekend’s BIG EAST Tournament. With a win Sunday at Marquette (23-5, 12-2 BIG EAST), Notre Dame would win at least a share of the BIG EAST’s regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming tournament. First serve is set for 2 p.m. (ET) and can be followed by live stats or paid online video from Marquette. Links for both are on

Alugbue’s 22 kills and 11 digs led the Irish, while Eppink had 14 kills and a career-high nine blocks in her last match at Purcell Pavilion. Andrea McHugh had a solid all-around match with nine kills (.304 attack percentage), three assists, one service ace, 14 digs and two blocks and Brindock had 46 assists, 13 digs, two service aces, three kills and four blocks. Senior Marie Roof had an efficient four kills on six attempts and two blocks on her senior night. Freshman libero Taylor Morey led the team with 16 digs.

Head coach Debbie Brown picked up her 500th win as the head coach of the Irish, just over a month after picking up her 600th career win with a 3-1 win over Buffalo.

Notre Dame also got to 20 wins for the 19th time in program history and for the first time since 2009.

The Bearcats jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead to open the match as they dominated the first set, 25-17, before holding off a late Irish rally in the second, winning 25-22. Cincinnati (11-17, 9-5 BIG EAST) out-hit the Irish .400 to .139 and out-blocked them 6-1 in the first set. In the second set the match was tied as late as 22-22, but a pair of kills by all-BIG EAST selection Jordanne Scott and an attack error on the Irish allowed Cincinnati to take a 2-0 lead into the locker room.

Notre Dame fought back in set three, taking a 20-14 lead before holding on to force a fourth set. The Bearcats out-hit the Irish .195 to .185, but Notre Dame had 16 kills and a pair of service aces that helped it squeeze past Cincinnati.

The Irish dominated set four as they hit .433 while limiting the Bearcats to just a .088 attack percentage. Notre Dame also came through with seven huge blocks, including two in the last three points to send the match to a decisive fifth set.