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ND Volleyball: Notre Dame dominates at InnTowner Invitational

Observer Staff Report | Monday, September 19, 2011


On a weekend in which Irish senior outside hitter Kristen Dealy became just the eighth Notre Dame volleyball player to record both 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in her career, the Irish gave fans plenty more to cheer about with convincing wins over Western Michigan and Wisconsin at the InnTowner Invitational in Madison, Wis.

With a kill in the second set against Western Michigan on Friday, Dealy joined the 1,000-1,000 club in resounding fashion. The kill was one of 13 on the day for Dealy, who also recorded 21 digs.  For her efforts, she was named MVP of the Invitational.

On Friday, the Irish (7-3) handled the Broncos (9-2) in four sets, winning 3-1 (25-18, 23-25, 25-14, 27-25) as three Irish hitters registered double-digit kills. Junior middle blocker Hilary Eppink and freshman middle blocker Jeni Houser recorded 14 and 11 kills, respectively.

The efforts of those three, along with sophomore setter Maggie Brindock, who finished with eight kills and 48 assists, helped the Irish to hit .296 on the match.

The real push, however, came from an Irish defense that held previously once-beaten Western Michigan to .178 hitting on the day. The Broncos hit just .088 in the first set and .000 in the third.

Notre Dame completed its first-ever sweep of Wisconsin on Saturday, dispatching the Badgers (8-4) in straight sets (25-22, 25-22, 25-23) in front of a crowd of 3,410 at Wisconsin Field House. The match was closer than the score would suggest, with all three sets pushing the Irish to the limit.

An impressive effort from freshman outside hitter Toni Alugbue pushed the Irish over the top. Alugbue registered 10 kills without an error on her way to a prodigious .667 hitting percentage. 

As they did against Western Michigan the day before, the Irish significantly out-hit their opponent, slugging .272 to the Badgers’ .180 mark. Eppink chipped in with nine kills, Dealy with eight and Houser with seven.

Between Alugbue, Houser and freshman libero Kathleen Severyn, who notched a couple of key aces down the stretch, the win showcased the degree to which the Irish freshmen are making an immediate impact. Houser is currently second on the team in kills.

The Irish return to the court to begin Big East play at home Friday, Sept. 24, against Georgetown in the Joyce Center.