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ND Volleyball: Erratic play mars weekend

Jared Jedick | Monday, September 8, 2008

Notre Dame had an inconsistent road-trip at the Idaho Volleyball Classic this weekend in Moscow, Id., to drop their season mark to 3-3.

“We were pretty disappointed in our performance,” head coach Debbie Brown said. “We made a lot more errors than we should have, and we are not where we want to be at this point in the season.”

The Irish played some of their best volleyball of the year this weekend, as well as some of their worst. Notre Dame dominated Washington State (3-3) three sets to one for one of their biggest wins, but was dominated by Eastern Washington (3-3) and Idaho (5-1) by scores of 1-3 and 0-3 to finish things up.

“We were very good against Washington State, but we struggled against the other two teams,” Brown said. “Against Idaho we had our most error-prone match of the year. We were unable to make the adjustments.”

The first match against Eastern Washington on Friday was a very hard fought affair, with the teams often tied and exchanging the lead. The first set saw five ties and two lead changes that resulted in a two-point win for Eastern Washington.

The Irish came right back in the second set and fought through 10 ties and five lead changes to earn the second set and tie up the match. The rest of the match went Eastern Washington’s way, with the Eagles winning the third set by two points and the fourth and final set by six.

The one bright spot for the Irish in the match and the entire weekend was junior outside hitter Christina Kaelin. Against Eastern Washington, Kaelin had 20 kills for a .286 average and five digs. Overall on the weekend she had 34 kills.

“Christina Kaelin’s offense was dominant,” Brown said. “She really wanted the ball and had some really good matches. She was playing at the level she is capable of.”

Junior setter Jamel Nicholas pitched in with 35 assists.

The Irish followed up their hard-fought match against Eastern Washington with a three-set sweep of Washington State on Saturday morning.

Kaelin had 10 of her kills against the Cougars, and Nicholas contributed a double-double with 10 digs and 20 assists. Freshman Frenchy Silva also added 10 digs for the Irish.

The Irish hit a .313 average in the match including .342 and .406 hitting percentages in the last two sets.

The Irish dominated the first set from the onset, winning by nine points. The Cougars kept things close throughout the second set, but the Irish won four of the last five points to take the set by three. The final set flew by with a 25-14 Irish win.

“You always want to string points together in a row,” Brown said. “That is when lopsided games can occur.”

The Irish saw themselves on the other side of a lopsided game on Saturday evening when host Idaho swept them in straight sets.

“It was a variety of things [that led to the errors],” Brown said. “Our first contact wasn’t good, and we were chasing the ball all over the court and miscalculating.”

Freshman outside hitter Kristen Dealy had 15 digs in the match, and sophomore outside hitter Kellie Sciacca had 10 kills to lead the Irish offense.

The Irish kept things close in the first set, losing by only four points, but dropped the other two sets by margins of eleven and eight.

The problem for the Irish on the weekend was their inability to be consistent from set to set and from game to game.

“We need to find the best combinations of players of players in certain situations,” Brown said. “We were having inconsistencies in individual players and we just need to be more consistent overall.”

Being inconsistent can be a killer for a team, as it only takes a couple runs by an inferior team to run away with a game.

“With the 25-point games we play now, if you give up three or four points in a row in a given game, that can be the difference in a match,” Brown said.

The Irish will be back in action on Friday against Cal Poly to start the Diet Coke Classic in Minneapolis, Minn.