Nov. 8, 2009
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse recorded eight blocks and held Notre Dame to a season-low 15 points in the opening frame of Sunday’s BIG EAST Conference volleyball match at Manley Field House, but the Irish rallied back to sweep the remaining sets while snapping the Orange’s 10-match home winning streak. Notre Dame kept its own streak alive by winning its 12th consecutive match with the 3-1 (15-25, 25-21, 25-17, 25-19) victory.
The Irish (18-4 overall, 12-0 BIG EAST) return home for the final weekend of regular-season play with matches against Georgetown (Nov. 13) and USF (Nov. 15).
“The team showed a lot of charisma out there and we continue to get better with every match,” Irish head coach Debbie Brown said. “The way we came back after a rough start was encouraging. Every time out, the opposing team is playing at their highest level and we need to match that intensity from start to finish.”
Notre Dame is now 7-0 in four-set matches this season and has won eight of nine contests on the road.
After Syracuse’s fiery first set, the Orange (19-10, 8-5) had six blocks in the second frame but were limited to only three rejections for the rest of the match. Notre Dame had seven of its 11 blocks after intermission.
Notre Dame hit .152 on the day after finishing with a -.111 clip in the first set. The team’s best hitting set came in the third (.394) while the Orange completed the day with a .097 average after maxing out at .185 in the opener.
The Irish had 15 hitting errors in the first and only 13 combined in the next three sets. On the other side of the net, Syracuse misfired three times in the opening stanza and 29 times thereafter.
Senior outside hitter Christina Kaelin (13) led four Irish players with 10 or more kills, followed by sophomore outside hitter Kristen Dealy (12), junior middle blocker Kellie Sciacca (11) and senior outside hitter Serinity Phillips (10). Dealy complimented her total with 15 digs for a double-double while a hustling Frenchy Silva scooped 16 shots.
Freshman Hilary Eppink came off the pine and hammered down a quick five kills on eight swings with four blocks. Sciacca also added four stuffed shots.
Syracuse came out and took control of the first set, doubling up the Irish at 8-4 before Sciacca went through the backdoor with a kill at 9-7 to bring the Irish back within a competitive reach.
But the block of the Orange was too strong as Sarah Morton, who leads the nation in rejections, recorded another roofer at 12-7. Four of Syracuse’s first 12 points came off blocks.
Morton finished with 10 kills and 12 blocks – including six in the first set – while the Irish defense stepped up in the latter phases of the contest to force her into eight errors on 24 swings.
Sciacca added a pair of late kills to chip into the Orange lead, 22-15, but that was as close as the frame would get.
It was the second time Notre Dame scored 15 points in a set this season, having done so in the opener of the Sept. 11 match against Wisconsin.
Dealy and Kaelin each had four kills for Notre Dame in the stanza.
An unassisted Sciacca kill at 2-1 in the second gave the Irish a burst of energy which increased with a Phillips ace at 6-2. Watching the Irish jump out to an 11-7 lead, the Orange scored three straight and eventually led, 13-12. Notre Dame came back to lead, 18-16, before the teams exchanged the upper hand on a fair amount of occasions. Syracuse nudged ahead, 21-20, as Kaelin pounded an errant Orange pass at 22-21 which was part of a 5-0 Irish streak to close the set. It was one of her five kills in the frame.
The score was tied at 11-11 in the third when five Kaelin kills from every angle blazed the Irish to a 9-1 run. Leading 20-13, Notre Dame saw Syracuse score the next three. Dealy had two quick kills to secure her double-double and situation Notre Dame to a 2-1 cushion heading into the fourth.
Dealy started the fourth set with a kill on the opening act and then dropped an ace at 3-1. Syracuse appeared juiced during Notre Dame’s 12-4 run which gave the Irish an 18-8 lead, capped by Dealy’s solo block. But the Orange had a bit more wind left in the sails, mounting a 7-0 run to make the score 21-18 as Kaelin halted the attempted heroics with a kill to put momentum back into the favor of the Irish en route to the win.
Phillips had four kills on eight errorless swings in the fourth and Syracuse found a bright spot in Annabella Pellerin’s seven kills on nine attempts.
Erin Little led the Orange with 11 kills and Shanetha McLaurin’s 21 digs paced all players.