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ND Volleyball: Irish serve up loss to Villanova

Laura Myers | Monday, October 5, 2009

Notre Dame knew going in to their match against Villanova that it needed to watch out for the Wildcats’ above-average serving.

Apparently no one told Villanova to do the same.

The Irish (9-4, 3-0 Big East) had eight service aces Sunday as they swept the Wildcats (27-25, 25-16, 25-16). Villanova (12-5, 1-3) had just two.

“I think that Villanova relies heavily on their serving game and scoring points in runs,” Irish coach Debbie Brown said. “I think our passing was really good and it made it tough for them to do that.

“One of our goals that the team came up with was to have a better ace-error ratio than Villanova. It’s a big goal considering that’s a strength of theirs. I like that the team competed and stepped up to that challenge.”

The first game remained close throughout and the lead changed several times. Neither team ever led by more than four. It finally ended on a service ace by senior setter Jamel Nicholas, who finished with four aces on the day.

“I think we played with a lot of poise and confidence and we didn’t get tight thinking that it would be closer than we thought it would be,” Brown said. “I think it was the poise and confidence that came through at the end of that game.”

The second and third games were not as close, as the Irish got off to big leads and were able to maintain those throughout the sets.

“Both teams were playing well [in game one],” Brown said. “We didn’t have any serving runs, and then we did in two and three which helped us to go for a lead and have more success.”

Senior outside hitter Serenity Phillips and sophomore outside hitter Kristin Dealy both recorded double-doubles in the match. Phillips had 11 kills and 10 digs while Dealy had 13 kills and 12 digs. Each also contributed to Notre Dame’s serving success.

“[Dealy] was good in every aspect,” Brown said. “She was good defensively, she took some great swings and she had several serving runs. She was on her game and that was certainly a big key to our success.”

Notre Dame maintained its lead in the Big East, with Cincinnati right behind. Villanova, which swept DePaul on Friday, is now 10th.

The Irish have almost week off before taking on Cincinnati Saturday at 2 p.m. and Louisville Sunday at 5 p.m. Both games will take place at the Joyce Center Fieldhouse.