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ND Volleyball: ND to close out season at Dayton

Cory Bernard | Monday, November 21, 2011

After seeing their impressive postseason run come to an end in the Big East conference final, the Irish head to Dayton, Ohio, on Friday for what could be their final match of the 2011 season.

Cincinnati (25-8, 13-2 Big East) beat Notre Dame (17-12, 8-6) in three hard-fought sets Sunday to claim the Big East tournament crown and earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. While it remains possible for Notre Dame to earn an at-large bid, it is not likely. Senior outside hitter Kristen Dealy said she was disappointed to see an opportunity lost against the Bearcats.

“I guess maybe we have a slight chance [to make the tournament], but we had a pretty rocky regular season,” Dealy said. “That’s a shame because we could have won [against Cincinnati].”

Though disappointed by the loss, Dealy said both being named to the all-tournament team for the fourth time in as many seasons and the team’s tournament run left her feeling positive about the season.

“Specifically, it means when push came to shove, you played well,” she said. “No matter what the outcome, I feel like I gave my best effort. It’s special ⎯ it’s just nice to know to that we did our best when it mattered most.”

Without little hope for an NCAA tournament berth, the Irish will take on Dayton with little at stake. The Flyers (24-6,14-1 Atlantic 10) won their conference title for the third straight season and, like the Bearcats, are guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Dealy said the Irish don’t feel any pressure heading into the match.

“We don’t really watch film on them, but they’re always pretty good,” she said of Dayton. “It’s going to be nice ⎯ nothing to lose, last game. Really, if we just come together and play with confidence, we can beat anybody we play.”

Dealy said the Irish will take some confidence into next season after she graduates, as Notre Dame’s younger players finally realized their potential during the Big East tournament, which included a 3-1 victory over top-seeded Louisville on Saturday.

“There were people after the Louisville game that we didn’t even know coming up to us and saying, ‘That was the best volleyball we’ve seen,'” Dealy said. “I think that was good for the younger girls, especially. Everyone saw what [we] could be if everyone steps up and plays confidently.”

Notre Dame’s match against Dayton begins at 7 p.m. on Friday.


Contact Cory Bernard at cbernard@nd.edu