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ND Volleyball: Notre Dame exits Big East tournament with Louisville loss

Pat O'Brien | Monday, November 19, 2007

Notre Dame fell in the Big East tournament Saturday to Louisville in the semifinals – a team the Irish beat a week ago.

After posting a 3-1 (30-26, 30-24, 23-30, 30-24) victory against fifth-seed Cincinnati in the quarterfinals, the fourth-seeded Irish dropped a 3-0 (30-25, 30-20, 30-27) decision to the top-speeded Cardinals to be eliminated from postseason play.

Just six days after losing to Notre Dame by a 3-1 score, the Cardinals got their revenge by knocking out Notre Dame for the second straight year. After leading the first game by an 18-17 tally, Notre Dame never got momentum back on its side.

Louisville (22-6) ripped off a 13-7 run to claim game one. The next two games were more of the same for Notre Dame; after the five-point mark of those games, the Irish never mustered a lead. Louisville out-blocked and out-hit the Irish. The tallies were 13 to 4 blocks and .363 to .244 in hitting percentage.

“[Louisville] did change their lineup a little bit against us,” sophomore outside hitter Megan Fesl said. “They really took advantage of their really dominant, really tall outside hitters that could hit right over our block. I think the last weekend when we played them, they might have underestimated us a little bit. This weekend, they just outmatched us.”

Freshman middle blocker Kellie Sciacca led the Irish with a .623 percentage that resulted in 14 kills. Senior captain Adrianna Stasiuk and Fesl checked in with 15 and 11 kills, respectively.

Junior outside hitter Tatyana Kolesnikova, senior middle blocker Svetlana Dukule and junior outside hitter Jana Matiasovska combined for 42 kills from the Louisville side of the net. Junior outside hitter Rui Liu led the Cardinals with 11 digs, while sophomore setter Samantha Dabbs contributed with 46 helpers.

The win against Cincinnati (18-11) on Friday extended the Irish winning streak to five matches. After the first game, where the Irish were always slightly ahead of Cincinnati, they found themselves down by a count of 16-18 in the second game. Notre Dame then capitalized on Bearcats mistakes and Fesl scored four kills in a row to close the game out on a 14-6 Irish run.

Game three completely turned the momentum toward Cincinnati as the Bearcats out-hit the Irish .300 to .111 in a game where the Bearcats held a 22-12 lead at one point. However, game four turned back to the Irish as they took an early four-point lead. Fesl finished off the match with her 21st kill.

Along with the work from Fesl, Notre Dame (14-13) was led by double-doubles from its two seniors -Stasiuk and setter Ashley Tarutis. Stasiuk had 20 kills on a .368 average while notching 17 digs. Tarutis had 50 assists and 14 digs of her own.

Cincinnati was led by 19 kills from freshman outside hitter Stephanie Niemer. Megan Fesl’s sister, freshman setter Annie Fesl, helped with 51 assists.

“I think that the match against Cincinnati will always be an emotional match for me because I’m playing against my sister” Megan Fesl said. “I think that had a lot to do with my individual play, but as a team, everything was really clicking.”

The Irish travel to Tennessee to take on the Volunteers for their season finale Friday at 7 p.m.