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ND Volleyball: Irish dominate in win over Rutgers

Sam Werner | Monday, November 10, 2008

Notre Dame earned its biggest win of the 25-point era Sunday, beating Rutgers 25-8 in the final game to close out a 3-0 (25-13, 25-16, 25-8) victory Sunday.

The 38-point total margin of victory was the largest for the Irish (13-12, 8-4 Big East) this season, besting a 32-point margin over West Virginia on Oct. 11.

The win moved the Irish to fifth in the Big East with only two games remaining on their schedule. Notre Dame will take on conference leader St. John’s and fourth-place Connecticut next weekend at the Joyce Center in a series that will be crucial to Notre Dame’s Big East tournament seeding.

Earlier in the week, Irish coach Debbie Brown said she wanted her team to hold opponents to lower hitting percentages, and Notre Dame did just that Sunday. The Scarlet Knights posted a paltry -.079 percentage, the lowest by an Irish opponent since Notre Dame held DePaul to a -.110 clip in 2005.

On the other side of the net, the Irish received a balanced effort, with four players tallying six or more kills. Sophomore middle blocker Kellie Sciacca and junior outside hitter Serenity Phillips had seven each, and junior outside hitter Christina Kaelin and senior middle blocker Justine Stremick chipped in with six apiece.

Junior setter Jamel Nicholas added 27 assists. Stremick led the Irish with a .500 hitting percentage, with Notre Dame hitting .287 as a team.

Rutgers appeared to be ready to give the Irish a fight early in the match, cutting a 5-0 Notre Dame lead to 11-8 before the Irish ripped off a 7-0 run to put the game away.

The second game was also close early, but junior outside hitter Megan Fesl delivered an ace and, later, the final kill of the set to give Notre Dame the win.

The Scarlet Knights won the first point of the final set but didn’t get much after that. The Irish reeled off runs of 4-0, 7-0 and 5-0 to earn the blowout win. The Irish made no errors and posted a .414 hitting percentage in the final set.