Oct. 4, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – One of the nation’s top serving teams came into the Joyce Center for a BIG EAST Conference volleyball matchup Sunday, but it was Notre Dame that aced visitors Villanova for a 3-0 (27-25, 25-16, 25-17) win. The Irish recorded eight aces – including four from senior setter Jamel Nicholas – against a Wildcat squad that entered the match ranked second in the country with 2.33 aces/set. Villanova (12-5 overall, 1-3 BIG EAST) mustered just a pair of aces against Notre Dame.
The win improved Notre Dame’s record to 9-4 overall and 3-0 versus BIG EAST opponents as the program is off to its best start since 2005 when that squad was 12-1 through the first 13 matches of the campaign. It also marked head coach Debbie Brown’s 800th career match and her 600th at Notre Dame. Brown, who is in her 24th season as a head coach, is 433-167 (.721) since taking over the reigns of the Irish program in 1991.
“We went into this match some specific goals and objectives and the team did a really good job of meeting those,” Brown said. “Villanova is a very strong serving team and we knew that our ace-to-error ration would be key in this match. Our passing was really good and we put pressure on them with our serving. To take away their strength was the main reason we won the match. I’m pleased with our great all-around effort.”
The Irish hit .322 as senior outside hitter Serinity Phillips and sophomore outside hitter Kristen Dealy each secured double-doubles. Dealy led all players with 13 kills along with 12 digs while Phillips posted 11 kills and 10 digs.
Sophomore libero Frenchy Silva was all over the court with a team-high 18 digs and junior middle blocker Kellie Sciacca had 10 kills on a .533 clip (10-2-15) and had a hand in six of Notre Dame’s 10 blocks.
Phillips and senior middle blocker Tara Enzweiler both had four blocks.
Krista Andersen and Elysse Studzinski each finished with 10 kills for Villanova.
The first period went down to the wire after Villanova failed to convert a pair of set points. Dealy and Phillips both had six kills but it was Nicholas who came through with back-to-back aces to give Notre Dame the win after Andersen put her serve into the net on the Wildcats’ second set point.
Notre Dame took the first three points of the second set and went ahead by five when Sciacca pounded a kill on the loop at 19-14. Villanova answered with a point before Nicholas delivered two more aces to help the Irish close the stanza with a 6-1 run.
The only tie of set three was at 1-1, followed by five straight Notre Dame scores. Senior middle blocker Kim Kristoff had one of her team’s three aces at 8-3 and Sciacca’s kill at 18-13 started a 4-0 spurt that kept the Wildcats leashed for the rest of the match. Kristoff ended the day by exploding a shot from the right side with the help of freshman outside hitter Marie Roof’s assist.
Ahead for Notre Dame is a conference twinbill against Cincinnati (Oct. 10) and Louisville (Oct. 11) at the Joyce Center. The match versus the Cardinals will be televised live on ESPNU. Live stats for both matches will be available at UND.com.