Sept. 25, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame stumbled out of the gate and never fully recovered during Sunday’s BIG EAST Conference volleyball match with Villanova. While hitting .094 with 11 service errors, Notre Dame fell to the Wildcats, 3-1 (25-18, 15-25, 25-19, 25-19) during the nationally televised contest on ESPNU with 1,337 fans on hand to watch at Purcell Pavilion.
Next week the Irish remain at home while playing host to Cincinnati (Oct. 1) and Louisville (Oct. 2).
Notre Dame (8-4 overall, 1-1 BIG EAST) won the first 16 matches of the all-time series with Villanova (10-5, 2-0) but has since dropped four of the last six meetings. The Wildcats used five team aces and 13 kills from Maggie Mergen to pick up what was just its second win in 10 trips to Purcell Pavilion.
The Wildcats hit .126 overall – including a -.064 mark in the second set – with Notre Dame not faring much better with a sub .100 clip in the final two stanzas.
The two teams combined for 23 service errors and Notre Dame failed to record an ace for the first time since facing Northern Iowa on Nov. 7, 2010.
Freshman Toni Alugbue had six blocks for the Irish as three Villanova players matched her in that category.
Notre Dame called a timeout after Villanova opened the first set with a 6-1 run. The Irish closed to within one at 13-12 on a Houser kill and stayed within a few points until the Wildcats ended the set on a 6-1 run.
After hitting .152 in the first set, Notre Dame’s .150 mark in the second proved to be enough for its lone victory. Both McHugh and Houser had four kills.
At 7-7, four straight Villanova errors put Notre Dame ahead, 11-7. A 4-0 run behind McHugh’s serve came a bit before Dealy closed it out from behind the stripe as the Irish finished the set on a 7-0 run heading into intermission.
Notre Dame got out of a 3-0 hole to open the third and went ahead on an Alugbue kill at 9-8. The Irish then fell behind, 16-11, after Villanova spurted away after a 9-9 tie and never recovered.
The fourth set saw Notre Dame double Villanova’s count at 10-5 with the Wildcats running back to tie it at 11-11. There were ties at 13-13 and 14-14, but an 11-1 Villanova jaunt closed the door on the contest.