ND Volleyball: Irish take 2 at the Shamrock
Jared Jedick | Monday, September 1, 2008
The Shamrock Invitational started off well for Notre Dame (2-1) with two solid wins against Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) and Nevada, before the inviting atmosphere disappeared in a hard-fought loss to Valparaiso.
“The level of competition was very good this weekend,” Irish coach Debbie Brown said. “We learned a lot and got better with each match. We were able to identify a lot of our strengths and weaknesses.”
The Irish began the opening weekend on Friday with an impressive 3-0 win over the IPFW Mastodons.
“IPFW was a very strong and physical team,” Brown said. “It was great to get the win, but we never really got into a good rhythm.”
Highlighting the attack against the Mastodons were freshman outside hitter Kristen Dealy and junior outside hitter Serinity Phillips.
Dealy had 12 kills and 10 digs while Phillips led the Irish with 13 kills and 12 digs.
This was the first time under Brown that the Irish have played the Mastodons, and marks an all-time 22-7 record in season-openers.
Three of the freshmen, Dealy, libero/defensive specialist Frenchy Silva, and setter Beth Wildermuth, saw significant time in the match, helping the Irish comfortably sweep all three sets.
“The freshmen all played huge roles this weekend and did fantastic jobs,” Brown said. “They were carrying a decent amount of the load.”
The Irish then squeaked out a second victory 3-1 on Saturday against the Nevada Wolf Pack.
Sophomore Kellie Sciacca led the scoring for the Irish against the Wolf Pack, notching 14 kills and 10 blocks.
“Sciacca was unbelievable,” Brown said. “They did not have a chance to stop her.”
Sciacca played so well that Brown said they moved her into the front row in set four.
Also playing very well was Wildermuth, who had 11 digs and 17 assists.
“Beth is a really great competitor,” Brown said. “She took control.”
The Irish rolled in the first set on the back of strong play from Sciacca, Dealy, and junior outside hitter Megan Fesl.
Sciacca’s dominance continued in the second set with five of her kills, with junior outside hitter Christina Kaelin ending the set with three of her 11 kills on the night.
Notre Dame built a comfortable 20-15 lead in the third set, but watched that advantage dissolve as the Wolf Pack ended up taking the set 25-23.
The Irish re-established control in the fourth and final set with a .381 hitting percentage and ended the game 25-18.
Irish hopes to sweep the weekend were spoiled by the Crusaders of Valparaiso who defeated the Irish 3-1. Despite the loss, Brown believes that the loss was their best match of the tournament.
“We played much better today,” Brown said. “It was a completely different match. It was going down to the last serves.”
Angie Porche of Valparaiso had an impressive 26 kills and 10 digs to pace the Crusaders to an undefeated 3-0 record on the year and sweep of the Shamrock Invitational.
Kaelin ‘s 13 kills and a .480 average led the Irish on offense, with Dealy adding 10 kills of her own.
Silva had 21 digs for the Irish and junior Jamel Nicholas had 27 assists and career high 7 kills.
Junior Tara Enzweiler had 8 blocks to Sciacca’s 7.
The match was a back-and-forth affair characterized by thirty-four ties and eleven lead changes.
The Irish earned a first set victory against the Crusaders, but that would be their last victorious set of the tournament.
The second set saw the Irish earn eight kills but also commit eight errors. Those mistakes were too much to overcome, as the Crusaders took set two 25-17.
“We error-ed ourselves out of game two,” Brown said. “But games three and four were very well played, and we had our opportunities.”
The decisive set was the third, as it saw great efforts from both squads. The teams pushed the score to 28-28 until the Crusaders were finally able to score two points in a row to take the extended set.
The Irish were able to keep the fourth set close all the way to 21-21, but the Crusaders closed the game and the match out in the end 25-23.
The Irish will be back in action next weekend for three games in Idaho against Eastern Washington, Washington State, and Idaho at the Idaho Volleyball Classic.