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Club Sports: Men’s volleyball wins Irish Invitational

Special to The Observer | Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Irish hosted a tournament this weekend at Rockne Memorial Gymnasium. The field consisted of seven teams from four universities, with two teams from Grand Valley State, one each from Purdue and Ball State, and three teams from Notre Dame, who split its main squad into two teams and fielded an alumni squad for the third. The teams were split into two pools, the first of which had Grand Valley State’s A squad, Notre Dame Alumni, Notre Dame Green and Purdue while the second pool had Grand Valley State’s B squad, Notre Dame Navy and Ball State.

Notre Dame’s Green squad played well and finished second in their pool by beating the Irish Alumi 2-0 (25-13, 25-13) and Purdue 2-0 (25-13, 25-20). They dropped two matches to Grand Valley State A 2-0 (19-25, 20-25). In the tournament bracket, the Green Irish defeated Grand Valley State B 2-0 (25-18, 25-17) before falling in two sets to the Navy Irish 2-0 (25-17, 25-23), resulting in a third place finish. The team faced a variety of problems as a number of players were playing outside of their comfort zone. Junior Tom Johnson, usually a right side hitter, played middle blocker; freshman Liam Gallagher, a defensive specialist, played outside hitter; sophomore Patrick Condon, normally an outside hitter, played right side; and senior president Mark Iandolo, normally a defensive specialist, played outside hitter for the Green squad this weekend.

“Considering the severe adversity facing the Green team, with all of the guys playing out of their normal positions, we should be truly pleased with our third place finish,” Condon said. “I’m not going to say I carried the team, but my back really hurts.”

Notre Dame’s Navy squad, however, dominated the tournament, facing their only significant challenge in the championship match. In pool B, every match played three games, regardless of the outcome of the first two because there was one fewer team in pool B than pool A. After running the table in the early going by beating Grand Valley State B 3-0 (25-7, 25-14, 25-16), and Ball State 3-0 (25-8, 25-14, 25-18) in pool play, the Irish began the tournament bracket play. The Navy Irish beat Purdue 2-0 (25-17, 25-10), Notre Dame Green 2-0 (25-17, 25-23) and Grand Valley State A 2-1 (25-23, 23-25, 15-13) to reach the championship match.

In the finale, the Irish fought back in games one and three after being down by as many as six points in game one and facing a 9-12 deficit in the third game. The Notre Dame Navy squad never gave up, however, and took first place at a tournament for the first time in over four years.

This tournament was truly critical for the Irish, as this was the last time they’ll play until spring semester begins. The spring has potential to be the best in team Irish history with the return of junior setter Josh Rehberg from his study abroad program in Australia and the return of freshman middle Scott Canna from a knee injury. The Irish have a deep squad this year, which was on display this weekend when a split squad took first and third places in the Irish Invitational.

Women’s Ice Hockey

Notre Dame played two games this past weekend, one in Chicago and one in Milwaukee. The team posted a big 10-1 win against the Tigers, a club program, in Chicago on Saturday. The Irish scored seven goals in the first period, one in the second and two in the third. Junior Margot DeBot ripped the nets four times, while freshman Maddie Schneeman registered a hat trick. Sophomores Veronica Ryan and Caitlin Ryan, and senior captain Karen Riedl scored the other goals.

Notre Dame lost 4-1 at the Olympic Training Center in Wisconsin on Sunday.

Figure Skating

Notre Dame started their season strong with a silver medal performance at the Dr. Porter Synchro Classic in Ann Arbor, Michigan on Dec. 5.

Skating to a medley of songs from the Broadway musical “Hair,” Notre Dame’s speed, presentation and innovative choreography set them apart from the nine-team field made up of college teams from around the country. The highlight of Notre Dame’s routine was a variation in their straight-line pinwheel where half the team ducked and continued to rotate, while the other half passed over the heads of their teammates. The many family members and friends who made the trip to Ann Arbor to cheer on the Irish went wild in the stands as the team nailed the difficult element.

The Irish finished a close second behind perennial synchronized skating powerhouse Miami (OH) and received a first-place mark from one of the judges. As the season continues into 2011, the team hopes to build off this strong start and challenge the field for gold at the Midwestern Sectional Synchronized Skating Championships in Rochester, Minn. in early February.