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Irish easily defeat WMU

Dan Masterton | Monday, March 17, 2008

No. 23 Notre Dame made it look easy, sweeping Western Michigan 7-0 on Saturday to extend the Irish win streak to three dual match.

During the streak, Notre Dame (10-7) has won 20-of-21 match points and 26-of-27 matches.

The sweep began with the Irish winning their fourth straight doubles point. In a minor lineup switch, junior Katie Potts teamed up with sophomore Kali Krisik rather than freshman Kristen Rafael, a lineup Notre Dame has used a few times before.

Notre Dame coach Jay Louderback made the change to get his players different reps and give him flexibility with lineups.

“We just wanted to get Kristen some singles and Katie some doubles. Coming up, we’re going to need each of them to play in singles and doubles,” he said.

The lineup tweak worked seamlessly as the pair triumphed 8-1.

Senior Brook Buck and junior Kelcy Tefft, the No. 1 doubles team in the nation, improved to 3-0 as the nation’s top-ranked pair. Their 8-5 win clinched the doubles point for Notre Dame.

Sophomore pair Cosmina Ciobanu and Colleen Rielley won the final doubles match 8-4 to keep the momentum on the side of the Irish.

Singles play started off strong with Rielley, coming off a tough loss in an abbreviated match against Illinois, cruising to victory. The sophomore blanked Western Michigan’s Emily Dudzik, 6-0, 6-0.

Louderback was impressed with Rielley’s resilience in bouncing back strong.

“She was not too happy about losing at Illinois, and she wanted to go out and win. She was the first one off the court. It was a fast win,” Louderback said.

Next off the court was Rafael, playing from the No. 6 position often filled by Potts. The freshman won her match 6-0, 6-1 to notch her third singles victory of the dual season. As a team, the Irish players in the No. 6 slot are 15-2.

Ciobanu clinched the match for Notre Dame with a 6-0, 6-2 win, and Buck continued the trend of first-set shutouts, also winning 6-0, 6-2.

No. 113 Krisik improved to 3-0 since becoming nationally ranked. The sophomore defeated the Broncos’ Ashley Moccia 6-3, 6-3.

The toughest point for the Irish was the last one. The Broncos’ No. 120 Kerstin Paul pushed Tefft but ultimately failed to take a set. No. 39 Tefft battled through ties and lead changes to prevail with a 6-4, 7-5 victory, improving her singles record to 15-3 for the dual season.

“[Paul] is a big, tall kid who’s had some great wins. She hits a big ball and comes up and volleys really well. It was good match,” Louderback said.

The Irish are now amidst an eight-day layoff, and besides hoping his team stays hot, Louderback is also hoping for some good weather.

“We’re hoping to get outdoors as much as we can. We’re at Texas A&M Saturday, and it will be outdoors for sure. So we are going to try to get some work in,” Louderback said.

The Irish face the Aggies on Saturday, March 22 at 1:30 PM as part of a two-game trip to the Lone Star State that also includes a match at SMU.