Sept. 25, 2009
STORRS, Conn. – The Notre Dame volleyball team started BIG EAST Conference play Friday against Connecticut with a 3-1 (25-22, 21-25, 25-14, 25-16) win at Gampel Pavilion. Notre Dame (7-4 overall, 1-0 BIG EAST) rallied behind senior outside hitter Serinity Phillips who was one block short of a triple-double with 16 kills, 12 digs and nine block assists.
Two more Irish players – junior middle blocker Kellie Sciacca (10) and senior outside hitter Christina Kaelin (12) – had double-figure kill totals and four had 10+ digs. Sophomore outside hitter Kristen Dealy (20), senior setter Jamel Nicholas (11) and sophomore libero Frenchy Silva (16) all had outstanding defensive outings. Nicholas also had 46 assists.
“We didn’t play as relaxed as I’d like to see us but we’re happy with the result,” Irish head coach Debbie Brown said. “This was a good win for us but we need to get into a comfortable groove as we get deeper into the conference schedule.”
Rebecca Murray led the Huskies (7-9, 0-1) with 16 kills and Jessica Isaac led all players with 32 digs.
Not a single point came easy for either team to start the evening. Freshman middle blocker Hilary Eppinki showed some skill from the outside with a kill at 9-9 and Notre Dame took the lead when Phillips bounced one from the right wing at 10-9. UConn led at 16-15 and 17-16 but a 3-0 Irish run put the visitors ahead for good. Kaelin put back an overpass (20-18) and Phillips’ ace at 22-19 did the deed for Notre Dame.
Aces by Slatt and Silva in the second along with another Eppink swing from the outside put the Irish in front, 9-8. At 14-14, UConn dodged four Irish bullets and put away the point to take one-score lead. Phillips recorded a kill and a block to bring Notre Dame within one (17-18) but UConn would build a three-point lead at 20-17 to help win the set.
Both Phillips and Kaelin had eight kills heading into intermission.
Slatt came out in the third with an ace at 6-6 and Notre Dame received a ton of help from Enzweiler at the net. Trailing 9-10, Notre Dame put on a showcase with an 11-1 run to take control of the set. Freshman libero Christina Theofilos had an ace at 13-10 and Sciacca crossed one to the corner to make it 15-10. Sciacca added a solo block at 18-11 as Notre Dame totaled 10 blocks on the night after the team had managed just one block through the first two sets.
Four of Notre Dame’s first 12 points in the fourth came from blocks. A big rally between the two teams took place at 9-7 as the Irish took the point and the air out of the Huskies. Late tips by Dealy and Phillips continued to deflate UConn. Kaelin made it 23-14 with a rifle shot and Notre Dame kept the set at that margin when the final horn sounded. Notre Dame hit .250 as a team as Sciacca swung at a .529 rate.
Connecticut hit .153 and was hindered by averages of .000 (9-9-34) in the third set and .049 (12-10-41) in the final frame