Sept. 2, 2000
The Notre Dame volleyball team rallied from a two-game deficit to upset #15 BYU in five games (5-15, 10-15, 15-10, 15-10, 15-10) in its second match of the Shamrock Invitational at the Joyce Center Saturday, Sept. 2. Junior Kristy Kreher led the Irish with 23 kills and 17 digs as Notre Dame improves to 2-0 on the season.
The thrilling match began with a whimper as the Irish struggled with their hitting and ball control while BYU seemed to be in cruise control. Senior co-captains Christi Girton and Denise Boylan were out of form and Notre Dame dropped the first game of the match 5-15.
“The whole team struggled the first game,” Irish head coach Debbie Brown said.
“It seemed that the only offensive threat we had in the first two games was Kristy Kreher. We needed someone else to step up.”
The turn around began half-way through game three. The teams fought back and forth until the score was knotted at 10-10. Freshman Jessica Kinder, who saw her first significant playing time of her collegiate career, snapped off an ace with a jump-serve and the Irish offense woke up. Two kills and a block by Kreher, combined with BYU errors forced by the inspired Irish play, put the third game away and Notre Dame was suddenly back in the match.
“I told the team that it is a good thing that these matches are best-of-three,” Brown said.
“We have a chance to come back and win three games in a row.”
BYU looked to crush any chance of a comeback 6-0 spurt to open game four. Notre Dame answered the call, rattling off 10 points and seizing the momentum back. Junior Marcie Bomhack contributed three of her seven match kills in the scoring burst and classmate Malinda Goralski, who always seemed to be in the right place when Notre Dame needed a big play, added two kills in the streak.
The deciding game was controlled by the Irish co-captains. Boylan, the team setter, helped guide the team to hit a sizzling .421 percentage in the game and Girton scored six kills and two blocks as Notre Dame won game five 15-10. Girton recovered from her early game inconsistency to tally 18 kills and 8 digs in the match.
“Christi played with a lot more confidence in the fifth game,” Brown said.
“It was great to see someone step up and put the game away when it needed to happen.”
The win gives the Irish a great morale boost heading into next weekend’s adidas Invitational when three ranked teams (UCLA, Nebraska and Michigan State) will come to South Bend for a round-robin tournament.
“A comeback like this can provide us some great confidence,” Brown said.
“Before, we could say that we are able to come back against a good team and maybe not believe it. Today, we proved that it is something we are capable of.”
BYU was led by All-American Nina Puikkonen (18 kills, 9 digs) and Sunny Tonga (18 kills, 13 digs), but falls to 1-1 on the season.
Notre Dame will move on to play Clemson Sunday, Sept. 3 at 2:00 p.m. in the Joyce Center for the final game of the Shamrock Invitational. Clemson lost to Fairfield in three games (6-15, 13-15, 12-15) in the first match up Saturday afternoon.