Nov. 20, 1999
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – In a rematch of last year?s BIG EAST semifinal, the Notre Dame volleyball team defeated the University of Connecticut Huskies for the second year in a row with a 15-12, 6-15, 15-9, 16-14, win Saturday at the University of Pittsburgh?s Fitzgerald Field House. With the win, the Irish advance to the BIG EAST championship match and improve to 19-6 overall, while the Huskies fell to 19-9.
Notre Dame was led by senior middle blocker Mary Leffers (Tampa, Fla.), who had a team high 14 kills and eight blocks. Outside hitter Christi Girton (Muncie, Ind.) contributed her sixth double-double in the last eight matches with 12 kills and 11 digs, while sophomore opposite Kristy Kreher (Birmingham, Mich.) also added a double-double with 13 kills and 10 digs, plus a career-best eight blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Marcie Bomhack (Waukesha, Wis.) was Notre Dame?s fourth player in double-digits with 13 kills and junior setter Denise Boylan (Lisle, Ill.) added 47 assists in the winning effort.
The Irish opened the match with a 4-0 lead on the service of junior Jo Jameyon (Alvin, Texas). The Huskies, however, tied the match at four and took the lead at 5-4 on two consecutive aces. Notre Dame?s Bomhack tied the match and gave her team the lead at 6-5 on two straight kills. The Irish would build two, six-point advantages at 11-5 and 14-8, but the Huskies crept back to within two at 14-12 on four straight unanswered points. Notre Dame, however, took advantage of its second game point, winning 15-12 on a Connecticut hitting error.
Game two had the Huskies take an early 6-0 lead before Leffers finally got the Irish on the board with a cross-court kill. An ace by Kreher gave Notre Dame point number two, but Connecticut maintained its momentum, capitalizing on Notre Dame?s .118 team hitting percentage to win 15-6.
Indicative of the entire match, game three was tied five times at three, four, six, eight and nine. A kill by Girton broke the 9-9 tie. A Connecticut ball handling error, a solo block by sophomore Malinda Goralski (Missouri City, Texas) and an ace by freshman Janie Alderete (Santa Clara, Calif.) made the score 13-9. Two consecutive Connecticut hitting errors then ended the game at 15-9 in Notre Dame?s advantage.
The Irish forged ahead at 3-2 in game four and stayed that way until Connecticut tied the game at 10 points apiece on the serve of Melissa Wooley. Machel Craig than gave the Huskies their second lead of the match at 11-10. A Leffers kill and a UCONN ball handling error, gave the Irish the lead back at 12-11, but a kill by Chanice Harris and Wooley put Connecticut ahead at 13-12. The Huskies had one game point at 14-13, but a Kreher and Goralski block tied the game for the sixth time at 14-14. Following a Girton ace, the Irish had their first game and match point at 14-13, but the Huskies staved off elimination until Boylan finally converted on an overpass kill to end the game and match at 16-14.
Notre Dame will play the winner of the other semifinal, which features #2 Georgetown and #6 Syracuse, at noon on Sunday, Nov. 21 for the BIG EAST championship. The Irish are in search of their fifth straight BIG EAST championship title and their eight consecutive NCAA Tournament bid.