Sept. 17, 2011
MADISON, Wis. – Notre Dame stayed focused in front of a raucous crowd of 3,410 at the Wisconsin Field House to sweep the host Badgers, 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-23), Saturday night. The win was the first ever for the Irish volleyball program on Wisconsin’s home floor and snapped the Badgers’ six-game winning streak heading into the contest.
Notre Dame (7-3) was led by InnTowner Invitational MVP Kristen Dealy, who connected for eight kills and a pair of solo blocks with nine digs in the finale.
Dealy, a senior, hit .306 with 21 digs during Friday’s win over Western Michigan to join Notre Dame’s 1,000 kill-1,000 dig club.
Freshman Toni Alugbue connected for 10 kills on 15 errorless swings with a pair of blocks.
Notre Dame out-hit the Badgers (8-4), .272 to .180, to earn its first sweep over Wisconsin while also registering back-to-wins for the first time in the history of the 10-match series.
The match was the latest installment of what has been an intense rivalry between Notre Dame and Wisconsin. The Badgers sought to bounce back from a 3-1 loss at Notre Dame in 2009 when the two programs last squared off. That match was not only the first win against the Badgers for Irish head coach Debbie Brown in her first six tries – and the first for Notre Dame since 1987 – but just the second win overall for Notre Dame against a Wisconsin program that eliminated the Irish from three straight NCAA Tournament appearances (2004, 2005 and 2006).
Things didn’t come easy when Notre Dame fell behind in the first set, 16-12, but the Irish scored six of the next seven to take an 18-17 lead on the heels of a pair of aces from freshman Kathleen Severyn.
Notre Dame then went to freshman Jeni Houser for two straight kills which ended the set. Houser had seven kills in the contest.
The rally carried over into the second as the Irish raced ahead, 6-0. Back came Wisconsin with a 9-0 run of its own though Notre Dame overcame a .114 hitting clip to eventually capture the win.
Wisconsin led by three (19-16) until three straight Houser swats regained the advantage in favor of the visitors, 21-20. A bad set and two attack errors by Wisconsin opened the door for Alugbue to bounce a monster kill on set-point heading into intermission.
Sophomore Sammie Brown served Notre Dame to a 7-0 lead in the final frame – including an ace – with Dealy roofing a solo block (6-0) while adding kills at 7-0 and 8-1.
Wisconsin crept back and came within a pair at 22-20. Eppink knocked down two kills to put Notre Dame ahead, 24-21, with Alugbue closing the door once again on match-point.
Ellen Champman led Wisconsin with 10 kills.
The Irish return home and open BIG EAST Conference place next week with matches against Georgetown (Sept. 24) and Villanova (Sept. 25).