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Hectic week ends in split

Jared Jedick | Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Irish split their four-game stretch over Fall Break, defeating Big East foes DePaul and Seton Hall and losing to Long Beach State and Villanova.

The Irish (11-11, 6-3 Big East) find themselves in a tie with Pittsburgh (14-10, 6-3 Big East) for third place after nine matches of Big East play. Notre Dame trails St. John’s (16-7, 7-1 Big East) and Cincinnati (20-5, 7-2 Big East).

The Irish have already lost to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, but they still have a match against Big East leader St. John’s in two weeks that they hope will bring the standings even closer.

The weekend began with a quick jaunt up to DePaul (3-19, 1-8 Big East) for a three-set sweep.

Leading the Irish was junior outside hitter Christina Kaelin’s 10 kills with sophomore outside hitter Kellie Sciacca pitching in with seven kills and seven blocks.

The Irish hit at a .317 rate with 27 assists from junior setter Jamel Nicholas. The Irish hit over .300 in the final two sets, chipping in a .375 average in the second set and a .324 average in the final set.

The team next made the long flight to California to face Long Beach State (18-4) in a rare non-conference tune-up for the rest of the Big East season. The game against Long Beach State was meant to keep the team in shape over the long break without any classes.

Freshman Kristen Dealy led the Irish against the 49ers with 16 kills, 11 digs, six blocks, and an ace for her team-high fifth double-double of the season.

Also pitching in for the Irish was sophomore outside hitter Kellie Sciacca with six blocks and junior middle blocker Tara Enzweiler with five blocks.

The Irish won the first set of the game in comeback fashion, but Notre Dame’s momentum was stopped by the powerful arm of Long Beach State senior outside hitter Quincy Verdin who had 21 kills on 33 attempts.

The Irish lost the next three sets to drop the match 3-1.

The Irish finished up break on Saturday and Sunday with a pair of matches against Big East foes Villanova (13-11, 4-4 Big East) and Seton Hall (12-11, 4-4 Big East).

The Irish dropped another close battle to Villanova squad in a five sets. This was the second consecutive time Villanova defeated Notre Dame in five sets after capturing its first-ever win over the Irish last season.

Notre Dame is now 0-3 in five-set matches this season and 2-9 in matches extending past the three-set minimum.

Junior outside hitter Serinity Phillips paced the Irish with 11 kills and 22 digs. Philips’ dig total equaled sophomore libero/defensive specialist Megan Dunne’s season high against Western Michigan.

The Irish finished up on Sunday with a strong showing against Seton Hall (12-11, 4-4 Big East). Notre Dame swept the Pirates in three straight sets to earn another Big East victory and keep pace with the conference leaders.

Kaelin connected for 14 kills for a .440 average and Dealy picked up her third double-double of the week.

Senior middle blocker Justine Stremick, Phillips and Sciacca each finished with seven kills as the Irish hit .266 over the three sets. Philips and Sciacca also pitched in with two blocks each.

The Irish will be back on the court in the Joyce Center on Saturday for another key Big East match against Syracuse.