ND Volleyball: Leading the pack
Conor Kelly | Tuesday, September 20, 2011
1,000 kills and 1,000 digs later, senior outside hitter Kristen Dealy leads her teammates as one of the most accomplished players in Notre Dame history. Dealy became just the eighth player to eclipse the 1,000 mark in both categories for the Irish.
“My role on the team is to lead my teammates and put them each in the best position to succeed,” Dealy said. “I am lucky to have teammates who have done the same for me. I am happy and honored to have achieved this accomplishment, for it could not have happened without them.
Dealy broke the record during Notre Dame’s second set against Western Michigan at the InnTowner Invitational in Madison, Wis.
Dealy’s fifth kill of the day hit the 1,000 mark. She did not stop there, though. Dealy added eight more for good measure.
Her 21 digs added to her total of 1,042. After breaking the record, Dealy was named MVP of the tournament.
The upper echelon of Notre Dame volleyball players is exactly where Dealy belongs, Irish coach Debbie Brown said.
“It’s hard to put into words how valuable she’s been to this program over her four years here,” Brown said. “She’s been a starter, a six-rotation player, from the day she stepped on campus.”
As a freshman, the Santa Barbara, Calif., native showed she had the talent and drive to lead the Irish both offensively and defensively. Dealy recorded 324 kills her first year playing for the Irish, the second highest on the team. She also led the team defensively with 325 digs.
“Dealy is a great all-around player,” Brown said. “I don’t know if she’s better offensively or defensively. She’s just so good on both sides of the ball. They don’t keep stats for serves received, but that’s another area in which she would be up there. She’s as good as they come in that department.”
Over the next two years, Dealy continued to lead the Irish statistically. She finished second on the team in kills in 2009, third in 2010 and was second in digs both years.
Senior libero Frenchy Silva placed first in digs in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
“Silva and Dealy are incredibly important to us from a leadership perspective,” Brown said. “There’s no duplicating experience. This weekend, playing in front of almost 3,500 people against Wisconsin, it was like it didn’t even phase us. That’s credit to those two.”
Dealy is among the leaders in both kills and digs for the Irish again this year, even though she could not pick up a volleyball until the preseason began in August. Hampered by shoulder problems throughout her career, Dealy underwent surgery in January and missed practicing the entire spring and summer.
“It’s quite amazing what she’s been able to do this season coming off of a surgery like that,” Brown said. “She certainly doesn’t have the strength that she used to, so she’s winning points in other ways. She has to be smarter and more efficient with her shots.”
On an Irish team that has its hopes pinned on a Big East title and hopefully more, Dealy’s smarts and experience are invaluable, whether she’s getting digs, kills or —more likely — a whole lot of both.
Contact Conor Kelly at email@example.com.