ND Volleyball: Irish improve playoff position with pair of wins
Conor Kelly | Sunday, November 6, 2011
The Irish moved two steps closer to clinching a berth in the Big East tournament with a pair of convincing wins at home over Seton Hall and Rutgers this weekend.
Notre Dame currently sits in fifth place in a conference in which the top eight compete in the conference championship tournament. With just one more win, the Irish can secure a spot.
On Saturday, freshman Jeni Houser led the Irish (15-9, 8-4 Big East) with 17 kills on their way to a four-set victory 3-1 (25-18, 22-25, 25-22, 25-17) over Seton Hall.
After stumbling in the second set with its only sustained stretch of poor play on the day and facing the prospect of a 2-1 deficit heading into the fourth, the Irish rebounded to secure a close third-set win.
Irish coach Debbie Brown said her squad never looked back and rolled to a team victory.
“I thought it was really good team play for us with lots of people coming in to contribute off of the bench,” Brown said. “We had really steady play if you take out the stretch where we lost seven points in a row in the second set. We played consistently.”
Houser led the Irish on offense with her 17 kills, but it was the squad’s balanced play that secured the victory. Fellow freshman Toni Alugbue notched an efficient 11 kills on .500 hitting, and sophomore Andrea McHugh turned in a double-double with 10 kills and 13 digs. Sophomore Maggie Brindock led the squad with 35 assists.
Brindock also contributed 13 digs in the effort, matching the total of senior Frenchy Silva, who, along with fellow senior Kristen Dealy, played in her penultimate match at home. Dealy led the team with 16 digs.
On Sunday, the Irish dominated the Scarlet Knights (8-21, 1-11) on their way to a 3-0 (25-15, 25-11, 25-17) Senior Day victory. Notre Dame seniors Frenchy Silva and Kristen Dealy played in their final match in Purcell Pavilion.
“Those two have just been so special for us, and we wanted their last home match to be a good one,” Brown said. “It’s hard to describe what they’ve meant to the team over their four years here.”
Houser once again led the Irish in kills with 15, and classmate Alugbue added 10.
The Irish are now 8-4 in the Big East with one weekend of regular season matches remaining. Notre Dame will visit Marquette and Syracuse over the upcoming weekend, looking for a win or a loss by a lower-seeded team to ensure postseason play.
“We can’t control what other teams in the conference do,” Brown said. “So we’re just going out to win the match in front of us — the higher seed we can get, the better.”
The Irish travel to Milwaukee, Wis. to take on Marquette on Nov. 11.
Contact Conor Kelly at email@example.com