Oct. 2, 2001
The 22nd-ranked University of Notre Dame volleyball team survived a five-game battle at Toledo (29-31, 30-25, 30-17, 27-30, 15-11) to improve to 8-3 on the season and earn its first road victory of the season in four tries.
The Rockets, who entered the match with a 7-3 record, proved to be no easy road opponent to overcome. Four Toledo hitters would post double-digit kills in the match and three Rocket players recorded double-digits in digs.
Notre Dame was led by its senior scoring duo of Malinda Goralski and Kristy Kreher. Both Irish hitters would end up hitting over .400 in the match, as Kreher would smack a match-high 19 kills while Goralski was right behind her with 18. Sophomore Kim Flectcher added 14 kills and seven blocks to round out the top Irish offensive efforts. The home team came out hot in the first game of the match, scoring three consecutive kills to jump ahead to an early lead. The Rockets would keep a four-point lead through the midpoint of the game, until a tip kill from Kristen Kinder and a kill off the slide from Fletcher cut the Toledo lead to 16-15.
The Irish tied it up with another kill from Kinder, but Toledo responded with a kill, an ace and a Notre Dame attack error to shoot their lead back up to three points. The Rockets would enjoy their lead until the Irish strung together four consecutive points to go from a 19-21 deficit to a 23-21 advantage. Goralski contributed a block and a kill during the scoring streak.
Toledo would not go away quietly, scoring a kill and ripping two consecutive aces to tie up the game at 25-25. After an Irish timeout, Kreher responded with a solid kill off the first pass to give her team a one-point advantage.
Once again, the home team was impossible to put away. Toledo scored off two Irish attack errors and a kill to earn game point at 29-28. Notre Dame’s Emily Loomis pushed a ball through a Toledo block attempt to tie the score, but the Rockets put the game away with a Becky Radomski kill and a Bitsy Mayhle solo kill off a Notre Dame overpass to earn a 1-0 advantage in the match.
The Irish were suddenly faced with their second-consecutive 0-1 match deficit after dropping the first game to Georgetown on Sunday, Sept. 30.
With Janie Alderete serving, Notre Dame gained a bit of momentum early in game two. Two Alderete floater-serve aces and a kill from Fletcher and Loomis allowed Notre Dame to jump ahead 8-4 to force a home team timeout.
Notre Dame would keep a four-point lead most of the game until a Toledo point surge cut the Irish advantage to 22-21. The Irish bounced back into the lead again with a Goralski kill, followed by two consecutive Loomis aces. This time, the Rockets would not be able to rally. Kreher and Marcie Bomhack put the game away for Notre Dame with two back-to-back kills and the match was even at 1-1.
In the third game, Notre Dame started to assert control with its play at the net and accurate hitting. Goralski and Fletcher switched off dominating the game at the middle blocker position, as Goralski would record five kills and three blocks in the game while Fletcher contributed two blocks and a kill. Notre Dame would build as much as a 13 point lead in game three on the way to taking a 2-1 lead in the match.
What control the Irish did have over the match dissipated in game four. Toledo recovered its hitting stroke and Notre Dame’s offense was unable to find the floor to score any kills to put some points on the scoreboard.
After a rash of Rocket kills and aces, the Irish found themselves down 20-12 and would have to battle to get back into the game. Fletcher helped Kinder on a block, followed by back-to-back kills from Goralski and Kreher. Suddenly, the Rocket lead was just five points.
Kreher came right back with a solo block and after two more Irish kills, the lead was just three points.
But the Irish could not draw any closer to the home team. Each time Notre Dame scored a point to cut into the lead, Toledo responded with a kill. The Rockets would force a fifth and deciding game with a 30-27 game-four victory. Game five began with a display of Notre Dame’s blocking power – led by senior middle Goralski. The Irish blocked three of the first four Toledo attack attempts, and all three blocks were assisted on by Goralski.
Fletcher subbed into the game as the Irish lineup shifted, but the Notre Dame middle blocker position continued to dominate. Fletcher scored two kills off the slide, then combined with Bomhack for another Irish block to give her team a10-4 advantage.
Once again, the Rockets rallied back. Three kills, a block and an Irish attack error transformed a comfortable 11-4 Irish lead into a close 11-8 score.
Notre Dame would not allow the Rockets to regain the lead this time. Loomis scored two kills over the last four points, including the game winner, and the Irish earned their first road victory of the season.