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Club Sports: Men’s volleyball plays in first tournament of the year

Special to The Observer | Monday, November 14, 2011

Men’s Volleyball

The men’s volleyball team took to the courts at Michigan State on Saturday for their first tournament of the year. The Irish placed 2nd at nationals last season and look to start things off with a bang. In pool play, they dominated the College of DuPage, 25-11, 26-24, in the first match of the day.

Bowling Green was the next opponent and was defeated by a slew of Irish underclassmen. Led by sophomore libero Brian Bucciarelli, the Irish rolled to victory, 25-13, 25-16.

National power Ohio State went up against the Irish next. Serving errors plagued the Buckeyes, however, and behind the big arms of senior Kevin Padden and junior Rob Bauer, the Irish won the pool with the victory over OSU, 25-14, 20-25, 15-9.

Next, the Irish beat last year’s 3rd place national finisher and in-state rival, Indiana. The Hoosiers brought back most of their starters, much like the Irish, and this win was key for seeding in Sunday’s tournament play.

The Irish came out swinging, and senior Tom Johnson showed his might at the right pin with monster blocks and explosive kills. The story of the match, however, was in the superb defense and serving that the Irish put on display. Sophomore libero Liam Gallagher, along with Bucciarelli and outside hitters Padden and Bauer, gave Indiana fits all night with their incredible digs. Follow that up with senior Steve Walsh’s big jump serve, and the recipe for success was complete. The Irish won 25-18, 23-25, 15-13.

Entering pool play on Sunday, Notre Dame was set to face off against Purdue. Even with the slow morning start, the Irish put away from the Boilers with ease, 25-18, 25-15. Notre Dame also beat Northern Illinois, 25-19, 25-15.

However, the next match would prove more difficult since the Buckeyes of OSU were back for revenge. In this semifinal matchup, the Bucks were hitting their serves well. With the help of team captain and senior setter Joshua Rehberg, Notre Dame was able to overcome the hard swings of Ohio State and win the match 25-23, 24-26, 15-13.

In the tournament finals, Notre Dame squared off against the Badgers of Wisconsin, who added several big time freshmen to their team. Coming out of the gates, fatigue had obviously caught up with the Irish, who had difficulty keeping up with the big hitters and well-placed serving of Wisconsin. The Irish dropped the first set 18-25.

Facing elimination and a second place finish, Notre Dame trailed 17-13 in game two and seemed fated to lose. However, with Gallagher making incredible dig after incredible dig and Padden making huge blocks, the Irish stormed back to take game two 25-23.

The Irish carried this momentum into the third game and absolutely dominated the Badgers in every aspect, blowing their doors off in a 15-3 victory to claim first place at the Back to the Hardwood Classic. This is the first tournament the Irish have won away from home in recent memory, if not the first ever. After the finals match, sophomore middle and coach Scott Canna said, “Both teams played hard.”

This Notre Dame team is looking to finish one spot better than last year, and claim the program’s first-ever national title. The 9-0 Irish will be a force to be reckoned with all year, and this is only the beginning.

“All we do is block and dig,” Padden said.

If the Irish continue to do that, then they will be on their way to another record-setting season.

Tennis

Notre Dame unveiled a new club this weekend as the tennis club entered its first official competition. The Irish opened play with two victories.

The first match was against Grand Valley State University. Junior Stefan Hogle and freshman Matt Hing played men’s doubles, losing the set 6-3. In women’s doubles, freshmen Christine Rush and Elizabeth Quinn took their set 6-0. Senior Luke Mansour played men’s singles and won 6-3. Junior Anna Wanzek won the women’s singles 6-2. To close the win against Grand Valley, freshmen Elle Harding and Ed Broun won mixed doubles 6-0. The Irish won, 27-11.

In the second round the Irish competed against Western Michigan University. Sophomore Shane Hannon and freshman Andrew Neils won the men’s doubles 6-4. Wanzek and Rush captured the women’s doubles, winning the set 6-0. In the singles matches, freshman Edward Kielb defeated his opponent 6-0, and Quinn earned a 6-3 victory. Once again, the club finished the round with Harding and Hing winning the mixed doubles in a set tiebreaker, 6-5(2). The final score was 30-12.

Unexpectedly, Ferris State University was unable to attend and the match was cancelled.

Bowling

The bowling team traveled to Dayton, Ohio this weekend for the Raider Classic. Senior Brian Frisch and freshman Chris Henneman finished just outside the top 50 with averages above 170. First Year MBA student Robbie Espiritu and freshmen Michael Schneider and Kevin Schneider also bowled well, but had a bit of difficulty with the sport’s shot used, the Kegel Winding Road. This is the type of surface oil layered on the lanes. The Irish finished 19th of 21 in the Raider Classic and will be back in action Jan. 14th, when they travel to Cincinnati for the Hoinke Bearcat Tournament.

 

Squash

Notre Dame hosted University of Illinois Springfield this weekend and the Irish swept a pair of contests, 8-1 and 6-3.

Outing

Twenty-three men and women ventured to the Indiana Dunes this weekend as the new Outing club spent the weekend hiking and camping on its first sanctioned trip. The club welcomes new members interested in exploring nature trails and engaging in outdoor activities.

Women’s Ice Hockey

The Notre Dame Women’s Club Ice Hockey Team began their season this weekend with two games at Michigan State.

This weekend, the Notre Dame and Michigan State Club Teams worked together to honor and remember veterans. The teams raised money for the Wounded Warrior Project, an initiative that supports families of those who have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Notre Dame and Michigan State Club Teams hosted a pre-game ceremony before Saturday’s contest, during which they invited honorary team captains onto the ice and participated in a moment of silence honoring fallen soldiers. Both teams wore yellow ribbons on their jerseys this weekend to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and those who continue to serve our nation.

The Notre Dame Women fought hard against Michigan State on Saturday, but lost 5-4 in the last minute. Notre Dame had a short bench as only 11 of their 21 members could travel this weekend. However, freshman goalkeeper Mary Salvi helped the team by playing right wing this weekend, while senior goalie Elissa Cmunt played in the net.

In the first period, Michigan State’s Jennifer Polin made the initial score. Michigan State took the lead 2-0 after a goal from Jessica Ponish. However, Notre Dame freshman Tori White scored an unassisted goal to make it 2-1.

During the second period, Notre Dame freshman Suzanne Fitzpatrick ripped an unassisted goal to tie the score. However, Michigan State took a 3-2 lead to end the second period as Erika First scored.

During the final period of the game, Michigan State scored to open the period and took a 4-2 lead. However, White received a pass from Fitzpatrick, making the score 4-3. White scored her third goal of the game, another unassisted shot to tie the score 4-4 in the third. Despite White’s hat trick, the Irish were unable to stop Michigan State. In the final minute of play, Michigan State’s Staci Burligone scored a power play goal and the Irish lost 5-4.

Sunday, the Irish “looked tired” Notre Dame coach, Siegfried junior Derek Wolf said. The Irish lost 4-0.

Michigan State picked up two goals in the first period from Elizabeth McCluskey and Emily Ledford. Both goals were unassisted. During the first period, White served a two-minute penalty for checking, which hurt the Irish mission. St. Mary’s freshman Mary Salvi also served a two-minute penalty for hooking.

The Irish held Michigan State scoreless during the second period. The Irish spent almost eight minutes on the power play as Michigan State picked up four penalties — Mackensie Smith for tripping, Megan Purcell for interference, Sydney Schulz for checking and Purcell for tripping.

In the third period, Michigan State’s Kaitlyn Vandewade scored a goal off a pass from Emily Ledford before the referee blew the whistle for an Irish penalty. Though the Irish dominated play at the end of the third, Michigan State’s McClusky scored a quick goal with 3:11 to play. Melinda Zelinski picked up the assist.

Cmunt played well in net, but the Irish could not score on Michigan State goalie Amanda Tapp.

The Irish are back on the ice on Sunday, Dec. 4 when they host Loyola at Notre Dame’s Compton Family Ice Arena.