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ND Volleyball: Sciacca focused on record

Meaghan Veselik | Thursday, September 16, 2010

Swinging her way into the Irish record books as the second best career hitter isn’t enough for Kellie Sciacca. She wants to be the first name in the list. In fact, being the best is the driving force behind all she does, for herself and for her teammates.

“Winning motivates me,” the senior said. “Being the best motivates me. Off the court too, being the best I can possibly be is what motivates me to work hard.”

Sciacca’s hard work can be seen in the impressive numbers she has posted in her Notre Dame career and in her coach’s observations, especially in her performances this season.

“Kellie has had a terrific start to the season,” Irish coach Debbie Brown said. “She has been our ‘go to’ player on offense and her blocking is the best it’s ever been.”

Sciacca has definitely shown her strongest playing in her senior season. She is working to make sure that this year is the time both she and her team come out on top. With clearly defined team goals of once again winning the Big East and advancing in the NCAA tournament paired with some of her own, she hopes this year is it.

“I think that if we keep playing the way we are playing, and working hard day in and day out, we will undoubtedly be able to attain these goals,” Sciacca said.

“Individually, I want to finish my career as strongly as possible. I want to go out with a bang. I have set personal statistical blocking goals and hitting percentage goals for myself that nobody really knows about, and if I can achieve these goals I know I will be helping my team out tremendously.”

And it certainly looks as if both the Irish (7-2) and Sciacca are on their way. Recently competing in Denver’s Pioneer Invite over the past weekend, Notre Dame swept all three of its matches for the first time since 2005. Sciacca played a large role in the Irish victory to move her individual statistics up to 117 kills and 42 blocks.

Sciacca’s notable statistics have not come without significant hard work and improvement.

“Certainly, she has become a smarter and better player with each season and the game experience she’s had the previous three years is paying huge dividends for us,” Brown said. “We will look to her to continue to carry a big load offensively as well as lead us in blocking.”

The 2008 season entered Sciacca into the Irish record books as her .337 career hitting percentage ranked second in school history.

During the 2009 season, Sciacca’s third year on the team, her already notable skills began to really stand out. She moved her career hitting percentage up to .343, still second-best, while going .359 for the season. Her hitting put her as the sixth best single-season all-time percentage for Notre Dame and as 31st nationally. Making up her impressive hitting percentage were 223 kills and 90 blocks, the fourth and second best team totals, respectively. And it’s all coming from a girl whose height started it all.

“I started playing volleyball in eighth grade just because I was tall,” the 6-foot-1 Sciacca said.

With her height and a killer arm, she began to have an unmistakable love for the sport that she dreamed would bring her to Notre Dame, even if it meant hours from her Colorado home.

“When I started getting recruited, Notre Dame was always in the back of my mind because I have been a fan ever since I was little,” she said. “After I took my unofficial visit to Notre Dame, I knew it was the right place for me and I committed shortly after and I haven’t looked back since.”

Although playing on a varsity team has defined her college experience, Sciacca feels that it has only proved that coming to Notre Dame was the right decision.

“Playing on the Notre Dame volleyball team has shaped my college experience in a very positive way,” Sciacca said. “[B]eing able to use my talents to represent the university is [a] really rewarding experience. Also, the relationships that I have built with my teammates other the years are unlike any other relationships I have otherwise established here at Notre Dame.”

But numbers aren’t all that Sciacca hopes to leave behind at Notre Dame.

“I want to instill in the freshmen and underclassmen a good sense of what it means to work hard, be successful, and be a good teammate,” Sciacca said. “I also want to finish high in the record books as far as my career hitting percentage goes. The statistical records are nice, but I would rather be remembered as a great teammate and as a person with a great work ethic that just loves to play.”

Sciacca and the Irish will be hosting the Notre Dame Invitational this weekend at the Purcell Pavilion, featuring Delaware, Santa Clara and Dayton.