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ND Volleyball: Badgers overcome Notre Dame again

DEVIN PRESTON | Monday, December 4, 2006

Wisconsin had knocked the Irish out of the NCAA Tournament two consecutive times.

This weekend, the Badgers made it three, beating the Irish 34-36, 26-30, 21-30 at UW Fieldhouse in Madison, Wisc. Although the Irish strung together some impressive plays, they were not able to keep their season alive against the superior Badgers.

Before the game, Irish captain Adrianna Stasuik said that the history between the Irish and the Badgers gave the Irish an “edge” of motivation. But that edge didn’t overcome the talent of 10th-seeded Wisconsin.

Notre Dame’s offense was led by Stasiuk who tallied 12 kills. Wisconsin freshman Brittney Dolgner dominated with 21 kills at a hitting percentage of .545. The Badgers outhit the Irish .324 to .204.

A well-balanced offense was key for Wisconsin. The three Badgers with the highest kill counts all had hitting percentages above .294 – higher than Notre Dame’s team leader Kim Kristoff.

Senior libero Danielle Herndon led all players with 17 digs, playing a big role in keeping her team’s hope of an upset alive.

“They’re all aggressive, and they’re scrappy, and their defense was great, especially in the first game they were out-digging us by five or six,” said Wisconsin coach Pete Waite.

The scrappy play from Notre Dame forced Wisconsin to seven game points before they were finally able to put the Irish away.

“We played really well,” said setter Jamel Nicholas. “We executed our game plan and fought for every point.”

Although Notre Dame was able to tie the score with Wisconsin late in the game, needing only two points to take the game, it was unable to win the battle for momentum and fell behind Wisconsin later in the match.

“It would have helped to win,” Nicholas said, “but it didn’t set us back at all. We came out playing just as hard in the second game.”

Wisconsin opened the second game in dominant fashion with a 6-2 run. The Irish were able to go on a 7-2 run out of a timeout and take their first lead at 9-8. The team did not allow the Badgers to gain more than a two-point lead until late, when a service error from Kristoff preceeded Wisconsin’s 8-2 run to put the Badgers ahead 28-22. After a timeout, Wisconsin was able to win its second game of the night off a kill from junior Audra Jeffers.

Notre Dame lost stride early in the third game with Wisconsin leading from its fourth point until the end of the match. The Irish made an attempt to regain control of the match with a kill from Mallorie Croal kicking off five consecutive points to narrow the Wisconsin lead to 15-13.

But the Irish were unable to overcome the Badgers, falling 21-30 after another Jeffers kill sealed the match.