Nov. 2, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Playing in its second five-set match in as many days, the Notre Dame volleyball team stumbled in a 3-2 (28-26, 22-25, 20-25, 25-22, 15-12) matchup versus BIG EAST Conference foe Marquette. Junior outside hitter Serinity Phillips narrowly missed out on notching Notre Dame’s first triple-double since 2004, finishing with 25 kills on a .375 average, 10 digs and a career-high nine blocks.
Sunday’s loss at the Joyce Center evened Notre Dame’s overall record to 12-12 and 7-4 against BIG EAST teams. Marquette bumped ahead to 9-14 overall and 3-7 versus league opponents.
The match marked the first time Notre Dame played in consecutive five-set contests against a conference opponent since joining the BIG EAST in 1995.
Phillips’ kill total was her best of the season and the most since she pounded Villanova 26 times in 2007. Junior Christina Kaelin contributed 15 kills and sophomore Kellie Sciacca finished with 12. Sciacca also added nine blocks with junior Megan Fesl coming off the bench to add five stuffs – two solo – and 13 digs.
The Golden Eagles received 19 kills from Ashlee Fisher and 16 more from Rabbecka Gonyo. Gonyo and Tiara Russell each had nine blocks.
Phillips had four blocks and struck eight of Notre Dame’s 15 kills in the first set as the Irish used a 10-2 run to hold a 17-12 advantage. Marquette answered with an 8-0 spurt to take a 22-20 lead. Trailing 23-21, Phillips came through with four rockets to tie things at 26-26 before the Golden Eagles pulled away. Both teams had six blocks in the frame.
Clipping the tape for an ace in the second set was Fesl to give Notre Dame a 4-1 lead. That margin extended to five (7-2) when Sciacca and Phillips teamed for a block. A pair of dumps by junior Jamel Nicholas, who finished with four kills, 52 assists, and 14 digs, gave Notre Dame a 13-6 lead. The spread shifted to eight points (18-10) on a Golden Eagle service error, though the visitors bounced back to cut the count to 24-22 before Phillips hit the final kill of the set.
Fesl had one kill, one ace, three blocks and two assists in the second set. She fired in a couple more freebies from behind the stripe to lead off the third frame as Kaelin put Notre Dame on top with a liner at 10-5. Marquette’s 4-0 rally was silenced by Kaelin, who wrapped up the frame with eight kills on 10 swings for a .700 average.
The fourth set was tied at 2-2 before Marquette took off. Behind by five (4-9) the Irish showed their fight as Kaelin connected with a kill after Nicholas’ pancake kept the play alive (8-13). That sparked a 4-1 Irish run that forced a Marquette timeout. Coming out of the break, Sciacca and Phillips teamed for a block to pull within one (13-14) when Marquette countered with a 4-1 jaunt. The Golden Eagles sat on set point for three plays until Fisher ended the action with her seventh kill of the stanza.
The Irish seized control of the final set and led by three (7-4) when freshman Beth Wildermuth checked in a delivered an ace. Freshman Kristen Dealy bounced a dousy (8-6) before Marquette stormed back to tie it at 9-9, and then used a 4-2 run to poise itself for the win as Caryn Mastandrea had a back-to-back kills to wrap up the match.
Notre Dame continues BIG EAST play with a trip to Rutgers on Nov. 9.