Nov. 30, 2001
The University of Notre Dame volleyball team’s 2001 season came to an end with a four-game loss (25-30, 30-16, 30-20, 30-24) to #20 Michigan State (21-7) in the first round of the 2001 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship in Madison, Wis., on Friday night. The Irish end the season as the 2001 BIG EAST Champions with a 22-7 record.
Sophomore middle blocker Kim Fletcher led Notre Dame in kills against the Spartans, tallying 16 on .355 hitting. Michigan State had three players register double-digit blocks, led by Erin Hartley with 16.
The Notre Dame middle blockers put on a show early in the first game, as senior Malinda Goralski and Fletcher scored three kills each during their respective turns in the front row to push the Irish out to a five-point lead at 10-5.
Nina Hartley helped the Spartans cut into the lead with two consecutive kills, but Goralski posted a kill and combined with Kristy Kreher for a block on Hartley to give the Irish a 17-11 lead and force an MSU timeout.
The Spartans regrouped during the break and came out hot, scoring three consecutive kills and an ace to cut the Irish advantage to 17-14.
Goralski came back to put an end to the burst with a kill down the middle and both teams started to trade points back and forth. With the score at 22-19, Kreher scorched a kill down the middle of the Spartan defense from the right side, and MSU followed up with two attack errors. Suddenly, Notre Dame was in control of the game 25-20.
Two kills from senior co-captain and Wisconsin native Marcie Bomhack eventually pushed the Irish to game point and a Spartan attack error ended game one 30-25 in favor of the Fighting Irish.
Goralski ended up dominating the first game. The 2001 BIG EAST Player of the Year ended with a .857 hitting mark (6-0-7), helping the Irish post a .282 hitting percentage as a team in game one.
Notre Dame was unable to carry over its momentum from game one into the next contest. Michigan State came out red hot, knocking down four kills while jumping out to a 10-4 lead. The Spartans refused to let up, building a 19-7 lead behind two Notre Dame attack errors, a service error and a MSU block. When the Irish called timeout behind 19-7, they had registered just two kills the game.
The Irish mounted a mini-rally late in game two, behind two MSU errors, a kill from Fletcher and an ace from Kreher, Notre Dame cut the lead to nine at 25-14. Michigan State put a quick end to the rally with three kills and an ace, winning game two 30-16 and pulling even 1-1 in the match.
Just a simple glance at the statistics during the break between games two and three told the tale of the match. After hitting .282 in the first game, Notre Dame was held to a -.143 mark in the second game. Michigan State completely reversed its first game performance as well, posting an impressive .522 team hitting mark in the second game compared to its .211 in the first game. Kim Schram led the Spartan resurgence, scoring kills on all five of her attempts in game two.
Michigan State continued its solid play into the first half of game three. Angela Morley and Hartley combined to block Goralski twice early in the game, and Notre Dame’s hitting continued to be streaky. The Irish also started to struggle with their serve, scoring kills three times in a row, but following up those kills with three consecutive service errors.
As the errors continued, Notre Dame was unable to get back into the game. The Spartan lead grew to as many as 13 points (22-9) before MSU secured a 30-20 game victory.
Notre Dame rallied from a 4-1 deficit early in game four and both teams started to trade points back and forth. A Spartan attack error briefly tied the score at 7-7, but MSU came back with a kill, block and ace to build an 11-7 lead and force and Irish timeout.
The score remained close (15-13) until Michigan State put together a five-point scoring streak behind two kills, a solo block and two Irish attack errors to build a commanding 20-13 lead. Notre Dame would end up unable to draw much closer and lost game three 30-24 and the match 3-1.