Nov. 6, 2009
MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Thirty ties and 13 lead changes marked the Notre Dame volleyball team’s 3-1 (21-25, 25-18, 26-24, 25-13) victory Friday night against Marquette at the Al McGuire Center. Notre Dame was aided by 15.0 blocks – including eight apiece from freshman middle blocker Hilary Eppink and senior outside hitter Serinity Phillips – to keep its BIG EAST Conference record flawless at 11-0. Notre Dame (17-4), the only undefeated team in the league, now travels to Syracuse for a Nov. 8 (Sunday) contest set to begin at 2:00 p.m. (ET).
The Irish dropped the first set and came back to win for the second time this season, doing so once prior against Wisconsin on Sept. 11. Notre Dame has won 11-straight BIG EAST matches for the seventh time since joining the league in 1995.
Senior outside hitter Christina Kaelin had 17 kills and sophomore outside hitter Kristen Dealy punched in 16 more. Dealy also had 15 digs while senior setter Jamel Nicholas braved through an illness to dish out 49 assists while guiding the Irish to a .289 hitting percentage.
Ashley Beyer recorded a double-double for Marquette (15-12 overall, 4-8 BIG EAST) with 15 kills and 15 digs. Rabbecka Gonya provided 11 kills on a .500 hitting percentage.
“I’m really pleased with the way we bounced back after struggling a bit in set one to find a good rhythm to close out Marquette,” Irish head coach Debbie Brown said. “Our blocking came alive after the first set and took them out of system. The players that came off the bench gave us the lift we needed to complete the team effort for this win.”
Marquette hit .324 in the opener but posted respective averages of .087, .186 and -.054 in the ensuing sets.
Notre Dame got on the board in the first with a Phillips kill from the right side after Marquette leaped out to a 2-0 lead. Sciacca’s tip (15-12) and Dealy’s solo block (16-15) kept the Irish in contention as the visitors managed to tie it at 17-17 when Dealy crushed an overpass. Beyer’s ace (21-18) pushed the Golden Eagles ahead again but Kaelin’s kill at 22-20 and Nicholas’ solo block at 23-21 kept things close until Marquette tallied the last two points.
Phillips and Eppink teamed for a block at 14-12 in the second and put it in cruise control after that phase of the frame. Dealy, Eppink and Kaelin shouldered the offensive load down the stretch with Sciacca chipping in a converted attack to give Notre Dame its largest lead at 24-17.
Kaelin and Dealy both had four kills in the set, with Kaelin doing so on four errorless swings. After recording just one team block in the first set, both Eppink and Phillips had three in the second. The Irish hit .308 in the frame.
Sciacca stepped up with a solo block at 7-5 in the third and Dealy replicated the feat at 11-10. A crosscourt shot to the short side from Kaelin (12-10) was followed by a back-and-forth affair between the two teams. Notre Dame led, 16-15, before Marquette scored three straight. The Irish answered with three unanswered to steepen the tilt. Eppink’s seventh block of the match gave Notre Dame a 21-19 lead but Marquette once against scored three straight. Eppink then teamed with Phillips again for a block at 22-22 then Phillips tied it with a shot from the right side at 23-23. Phillips’ ace gave Notre Dame set point, but the Irish would have to wait a few rallies before closing the books. Senior middle blocker Kim Kristoff entered the lineup to serve at 25-24 which set the table for Sciacca to record a solo block to give Notre Dame a 2-1 edge on the scoreboard.
Phillips slammed one up the gut on the opening play of the fourth to spark a 5-0 Irish run. Marquette rallied back to tie it at 7-7 and 12-12. Dealy took out a Golden Eagle defender by going down the left line to put Notre Dame back on top as the Irish went ahead, 14-13. From that point, Notre Dame scored the match’s next 11 scores for the win.