Nov. 14, 2001
As the University of Notre Dame volleyball program said goodbye to its 2002 graduating class, it received a glimpse of what the Irish might miss in the lineup next year. Seniors Marcie Bomhack, Malinda Goralski and Kristy Kreher helped Notre Dame hold off a surging Illinois State team in five games (30-23, 35-33, 27-30, 27-30, 15-11) at the Joyce Center Wednesday night. The Irish improve to 19-5 on the season heading into this weekend’s 2001 BIG EAST Championship in Pittsburgh, Pa., while the Redbirds drop to 14-12.
Each member of the Irish senior class posted her own set of gaudy numbers in the match. Bomhack carried her team through the first two game victories and ended up with 15 kills while committing just two attack errors. Kreher rebounded from a slow start to hit for a match-high 23 kills, adding 18 digs, nine assists and five blocks. Goralski matched both her career-highs in kills (18) and blocks (11) for the third time this season.
“The senior class played great,” Irish head coach Debbie Brown said.
“They really held the team together in their last home match. This was a good test for our team. Illinois State played us very tough and being able to come back and beat a team playing at a high level is a good thing for us right now heading into the BIG EAST Championship this weekend.”
The Irish had opportunities to knock the Redbirds out, but Illinois State refused to give up. The visitors rallied from deficits in both games two and three, forcing a fifth and final game as both teams displayed spirited play on both sides of the net. Erin Jones and Megan O’Connell led Illinois State with 19 kills a piece, but the Irish defense was effective enough to secure a victory. All three of Notre Dame’s defensive specialists recorded double-digit kill matches, led by Janie Alderete with a career-best 26.
Notre Dame’s defense at the net got off to a slow start, but the Irish would eventually record 17 blocks in the contest, led by Goralski and Kreher.
While the inspired effort of its senior class ends up as the highlight of the match for Notre Dame, a number of underclassmen on the roster had great games. Freshman Emily Loomis recorded the first double-double of her career with 14 kills and 13 digs (with four blocks) and setter Kristen Kinder set for 65 assists and had 17 digs.