ND Volleyball: Team beats Big East rivals
Christopher Masoud | Monday, October 12, 2009
Coming into play on Saturday, only two teams could lay claim to undefeated records in the Big East. But after the dust settled following a weekend of intense action, the Irish stand alone atop the Big East rankings without a loss to their name.
Notre Dame (11-4, 5-0 Big East) completed a sweep of the home stand with victories over previously undefeated Cincinnati and highly-touted Louisville, extending its winning streak to five games. The Irish have won eight of their last nine matches dating back to their victory against Wisconsin over a month ago.
“We’re going to certainly enjoy this weekend because it was big for us,” Irish coach Debbie Brown said, “but we have such a huge target on our back and every team in the Big East is going to be fired up to beat us. We can’t for a second think that we accomplished anything. It’s going to have that attitude of just making sure that we’re really mentally prepared, physically prepared for every part that we have.”
In the battle of the undefeateds, the Irish handed Cincinnati (13-8, 4-1) their first conference loss of the season in a thrilling five-set affair (25-22, 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 15-10). Senior outside hitter Serinity Phillips recorded her 1,000th career kill en route to her total of 17 against the Bearcats, becoming the 18th player in program history to reach the historic mark.
“I think our senior class has definitely stepped up and we’ve definitely focused on our game,” Phillips said. “I think that shows up on the court and so I do think there’s a big emphasis on experience.”
Facing their first test as the lone unbeaten team in the conference, the Irish showed any remaining doubters that they will be a force to be reckoned with as the season rolls on. Donning pink jerseys, the Irish cruised past Louisville in four sets (25-16, 21-25, 25-16, 25-21) in front of a home crowd of 1,746 who came to support the program’s “Dig Pink” initiative.
“The support from the community is just huge, and obviously it’s for a great cause,” Brown said. “I think they were treated to some good volleyball, but just to have that kind of support for anything raising awareness for something that’s so important to all of us was huge. Having the band there really highlights the atmosphere, and it was just really fun for the players and the staff to be in that type of environment.”
Phillips and senior outside hitter Christina Kaelin led the way for the Irish, combining for 32 kills, five blocks, and 35.5 points. Despite a lackluster effort in the second set that saw the Irish commit nine errors, the Irish were able to rebound to hold the Cardinals (10-8, 3-2) to a .101 hitting percentage overall.
“One of the things that happened in the second set was our ball control wasn’t real good, so we weren’t passing very well and we were having to rely solely on our outside hitters,” Brown said. “I think in games three and four we did a lot better job with our ball control, and I think we served really aggressively and kept them out of the system.”
Notre Dame takes its undefeated record on the road as they travel to Pittsburgh next Saturday in pursuit of a regular season conference title.