Nov. 9, 2013
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Down 2-0 but not out, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team regrouped at the break and swept the final three sets to win a five-set Atlantic Coast Conference thriller (18-25, 17-25, 18-25, 23-25, 17-15) at Boston College in its first trip to Chestnut Hill since 2003. With the win, the Irish improve to 12-1 all-time against the Eagles.
The come-from-behind win is the fourth in two seasons for the Irish as they dug themselves out of a 0-2 hole against Auburn this year and Louisville and Cincinnati last season.
After the two teams split the first four sets, the deciding fifth set went back-and-forth as both squads fought to claim victory. In a frame that featured eight ties and three lead changes, BC held its last lead at 13-11 and looked to close out the match behind the serving of standout Katty Workman. However, the Irish wouldn’t be go away as they quickly tied up the frame and then took a 14-13 lead with sophomore Hanna Muzzonigro serving. After a kill by senior Sammie Brown, a pair of double blocks by junior Jeni Houser and senior Maggie Brindock and then Houser and fellow junior Meg Vonderhaar gave the Irish match point. The Eagles stayed alive by tying the score at 14 and 15, but Houser completed the epic comeback with two consecutive kills to give Notre Dame the 17-15 set win and a 3-2 match victory.
“One of the things we have been working on is just playing loose,” said head coach Debbie Brown. “For whatever reason when we were down 0-2, we played looser. We knew we had nothing to lose. Even down 0-2, we knew we could still win the match. We got some momentum in the third set and built on it in the fourth and fifth sets. It was a great team win.”
Plenty of Irish standouts aided in the win, including a trio of double-digit kill performances led by senior Nicole Smith’s 14. Joining the Franklin, Tenn., native with double-digt kills were juniors Toni Alugbue and Jeni Houser, who both totaled 11. Alugbue claimed her team-high ninth double-double of the season as she added 15 digs, while Houser hit .304 and had six digs and a team-high five blocks.
Senior setter Maggie Brindock settled in as the match went along and had 33 assists, six digs, three blocks and three kills, while fellow senior Andrea McHugh led the Irish with 16 digs. Sophomore setter Hanna Muzzonigro tallied the first double-double of her career as she had 11 assists and 11 digs.
Notre Dame had only two blocks in the first two frames combined, but totaled 10 over the last three frames to help fuel the comeback. In addition to Houser’s five, senior Andie Olsen and Vonderhaar each had four to pace the Irish.
The match featured 35 ties and 16 lead changes including 31 and 15, respectively, in the final three sets.
Boston College hit a blistering .414 in the first set, but cooled off significantly as the match went on as it finished with a .199 attack percentage. Leading the Eagles were double-digit kill performers Courtney Castle (14), Amanda Yerke (14) and Katty Workman (13). BC led the Irish in almost every major category, but the Irish gritted out the five-set win.
Notre Dame (11-15, 5-9 ACC) closes out its road campaign with a trip to the Sunshine State next weekend to meet Miami (7 p.m. Friday) and No. 18 Florida State (12 p.m. Sunday). The Irish split with the two squads in October at Purcell Pavilion as they bested Miami (3-1) before being swept by the Seminoles.
“We need to keep working on generating kills, our serving and our blocking defense,” said Brown. “We want to keep improving and we know we’ll have to play at a higher level to have success next weekend. The two environments we’ll play in will be tough and we’ll have to rise to the occasion.”
— Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director