Nov. 24, 2000
The University of Notre Dame volleyball team (25-6) dropped a hard-fought match at #3 USC (25-2) Friday night, at the Lyon Center in Los Angeles, Calif. The Irish built a 2-1 advantage in the match but were unable to hold the lead and lost in five games (15-5, 17-15, 17-15, 7-15, 11-15). Christi Girton (Muncie, Ind.) led the Irish with 22 kills (with 16 digs) while juniors Kristy Kreher (Birmingham, Mich.) and Malinda Goralski (Missouri City, Texas) added 18 and 16 kills, respectively.
The Irish now await their fate in the 2000 NCAA tournament. Notre Dame is assured a spot in the field after winning the BIG EAST Championship and will look forward to finding out their seed and first round opponent on Sunday, Nov. 25.
USC profited by a series of runs in the first game, building an 8-2 lead that the Irish were unable to overcome. Three straight Trojan kills led to a 15-5 game one victory and Notre Dame faced a 0-1 deficit in the match.
The Irish were able to settle down and run their offense in the second game as both teams battled back and forth. Notre Dame built a 10-7 lead on the strength of three kills from Girton (who recorded seven in the game) and Kreher. Freshman Kim Fletcher (St. Louis, Mo.) was inserted into the lineup by head coach Debbie Brown and provided the additional spark the Irish were looking for. Notre Dame built a 14-10 lead, but the Trojans fought off four game points and jumped to a 15-14 advantage.
Goralski, who usually does not serve for the Irish, stepped back after a Kreher kill and recorded her first ace of the season to draw the game even. Kreher followed up with a kill on a backset from Irish setter Denise Boylan to give the Irish a 16-15 lead. Fletcher then scored a solo block on game point to earn the victory for the Irish and draw the match even at 1-1. Fletcher would post a career-best 10 kills in the match.
Notre Dame was able to maintain the momentum into the second game, building an 8-3 lead behind two kills from Girton and a burst of energy from Adrienne Shimmel (Mission Viejo, Calif.) who also scored two kills and would total six in the match.
USC rallied with two consecutive blocks and two kills to tie the game 9-9. The Trojans continued the point string and pulled into the lead 13-11 after two Irish hitting errors. Notre Dame fought back behind two kills from co-captains Boylan and Girton to knot game three at 13-13.
The Women of Troy quickly responded with two points and had a game point opportunity, but the Irish would not be denied. Fletcher smacked an ace, followed by a Girton power-kill to push Notre Dame to game point. The Irish would take advantage of the opportunity, as Boylan and Kreher combined for a block to put the Irish ahead 2-1 in the match.
The Trojans came out hot in the fourth game, building an 8-3 lead that Notre Dame was unable to recover from. The classic match would be destined for a fifth game under rally scoring rules as USC claimed a 15-7 victory in game four.
Game five typified the entire match as both teams fought back and forth with neither earning more than a three point advantage until USC jumped ahead 13-9. Notre Dame tried to mount a comeback behind four kills from Girton and Goralski, but the rally fell short and the Trojans earned the match victory 3-2.
Next up for the Irish will an NCAA first-round match with the opponent, site and match time to be announced.