Jamel Nicholas has the Irish on top of the BIG EAST standings with a 5-0 record.

Notre Dame Pushes Past Louisville, 3-1

Oct. 11, 2009

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame volleyball team held off a pesky Louisville squad Sunday at the Joyce Center to pull out with a 3-1 (25-16, 21-25, 25-16, 25-21) league win. Senior outside hitters Serinity Phillips and Christina Kaelin went at the Cardinals from all directions as the Irish improved to 11-4 overall. The team’s 5-0 league record remains the only flawless mark of any BIG EAST Conference squad this season.

The Irish defense recorded 47 scoops in the program’s “Dig Pink” match, which attracted 1,746 fans that packed the arena for the nationally televised match on ESPNU.

“I’m proud of the total team effort not just today, but throughout this weekend,” Irish head coach Debbie Brown said. “We kept our composure when we needed to, and even though today’s match was not the cleanest of contests, we came up with big plays when we needed them.

“When you look at the stats, our defense did put up stellar numbers but we did come up with a number of great efforts to keep Louisville’s phenomenal hitters in check. Getting those digs was also important for our `Dig Pink’ promotion. I loved the turnout today and the fans were instrumental in helping us win this one. The program hopes this day was a great one for the community.”

The Irish defense also held Louisville without a service ace.

Next up for Notre Dame is a road trip to Pittsburgh (Oct. 17) and West Virginia (Oct. 18).

Phillips had 18 kills on a .441 hitting percentage and Kaelin added 14 more.

Notre Dame hit .193 as Louisville (9-8 overall, 2-2 BIG EAST) shot at a .101 rate. The Irish out-hit the Cardinals in each of their winning sets.

Senior setter Jamel Nicholas distributed 45 assists and 14 digs, and for the second consecutive match delivered clutch aces for Notre Dame. Nicholas, who finished with two of the seven Irish aces on the day, stuck the Cardinal defense with a dagger coming out of a timeout in the fourth set to make it a 20-14 affair in Notre Dame’s favor. The Irish rallied on to win the set when sophomore outside hitter Kristen Dealy struck a kill on match point.

Senior middle blocker Tara Enzweiler had four block assists and junior middle blocker Kellie Sciacca had three blocks. Phillips chipped in three of Notre Dame’s 7.0 team blocks.

Sciacca also had seven kills and Dealy finished with eight converted attacks, 11 digs and a match-high three aces.

Louisville took a 12-11 lead in the first but the Irish outscored the visitors 14-4 down the stretch. The Cardinals hit just -.111 in the set as Kaelin, a Louisville native, went for five kills in the frame.

A Phillips kill tied set two at 5-5 but the Irish would trail for the entirety after Lolo Arslanbekova’s kill on the next play. Arslanbekova led the Cardinals with 13 kills and Lecia Brown paced the visitors with six blocks. Louisville’s Lindsey Mango had a match-high 35 digs.

The Irish turned a 10-6 lead into a 15-6 advantage in the third set thanks to three Cardinal hitting errors. Louisville never threatened after that point with Dealy closing the frame with a gorgeous ace that hugged the net before dropping for the final score.

Seven of Phillips’ kills came in the fourth as the Irish built a 15-10 lead. Louisville closed to within a pair, 15-13, but two more Cardinal errors gave the Irish enough cushion to work with.

Two of the shortest players on the Irish roster, liberos Frenchy Silva and Megan Dunne, recorded one kill each.