02/2012: Notre Dame Wins the Hoosier-Illini Classic
The Men's Volleyball team returned home with another trophy this weekend as they won their second tournament of the year at the University of Illinois in the 'Hoosier-Illini Classic'. Opening with pool play on Saturday, Notre Dame got off to a good start by beating the University of Illinois-Chicago in straight sets (25-22, 25-29), followed by a hard fought win over Pittsburgh in three sets (25-23, 23-25, 15-10), but Ohio State was out for revenge after the Irish beat them twice in the Fall, and nothing went right in a 16-25, 20-25 defeat to the Buckeyes. This loss put Notre Dame in second place in the pool, and they would have to beat Ohio State's B team to earn a trip to the Gold bracket. After a tough first game, where again, nothing seemed to go Notre Dame's way, the Irish bounced back to defeat the Bucks in three sets (22-25, 25-21, 15-10).
11/2011: Notre Dame Wins the Back to the Hardwood Classic
The men's volleyball team took to the courts at Michigan State on saturday for the first tournament of the year. The Irish, who placed 2nd at nationals last season, we're looking to start things off with a bang, and in pool play, they did just that, dominating College of Dupage (25-11, 26-24) in the first match of the day.
Bowling Green was the next opponent to be tossed aside by the Irish when they were beat down by a slew of underclassmen, led by sophomore libero Brian Bucciarelli, en route to a victory (25-13, 25-16).
The next challenger to face the Irish was national power Ohio State. Serving errors plagued the buckeyes, however, and behind the big arms of Kevin Padden and Rob Bauer, the Irish won the pool with the victory over OSU (25-14, 20-25, 15-9).
The next opponent looking for the Irish was last years 3rd place finisher and in state rival, Indiana. The Hoosiers were a dominant team last year and brought back most of their starters, much like the Irish, and this matchup would be key for seeding in Sundays tournament play.
The Irish came out swinging, and Tom Johnson showed his might at the right pin with monster blocks and explosive kills. The story of the match, however, was in the superb defense and serving that the Irish put on display. Libero Liam Gallagher, along with Bucciarelli and outside hitters Padden and Bauer, gave Indiana fits all night with their incredible digs. Follow that up with Steve Walsh's big jump serve, and the recipe for success was complete. The Irish won the signature match of the season thus far. 25-18, 23-25, 15-13.
Entering pool play on Sunday, Notre Dame was set to face off against Purdue, and even with the slow morning start, the Irish put away the Boilers with ease, 25-18, 25-15. Northern Illinois was up next, but they too didn't stand a chance as they were dominated, 25-19, 25-15.
However, the next match would prove more difficult since the Buckeyes of OSU were back for more. In this semifinal matchup, the Bucks were hitting their serves well, which was frustrating the Irish. However, behind team captain and setter, Joshua Rehberg, Notre Dame was able to overcome the hard swings of Ohio State and win the match 25-23, 24-26, 15-13.
In the tournament finals Notre Dame squared off against the Badgers of Wisconsin, who added several big time freshman to their team. Coming out of the gates, fatigue had obviously caught up with the Irish, who had difficulty keeping up with the big hitters and well placed serving of Wisconsin, and the Irish dropped the first set 18-25.
Facing elimination and a second place finish, Notre Dame trailed 17-13 in game two, and their fate seemed sealed, however, with Gallagher making incredible dig after incredible dig, and Padden making huge blocks, the Irish stormed back to take game two 25-23.
The Irish carried this momentum into the third game and absolutely dominated the Badgers in every aspect of the game, blowing their doors off in a 15-3 beat down to claim first place at the Back to the Hardwood Classic. This is the first tournament the Irish have won away from home in recent memory, if not the first ever. After the finals match, injured middle and pseudo coach Scott Canna put the victory into words, "Both teams played hard."
This Notre Dame team is looking to finish one spot better than last year, and claim the programs first ever national title, and this is a great start to achieving that goal. The 9-0 Irish will be a force to be reckoned with all year, and this is only the beginning. As Kevin Padden said, "All we do is block and dig. Schrempf," and if the Irish can continue to do that, then they will be on their way to another record setting season.
09/2011: Notre Dame adds Players
The University of Notre Dame Men's Volleyball team added some young talent in Opp/MB D.J. Valenti, as well as fellow freshman OH Steven Dusing. Sophomore Kevin Timperman also joined the team and will add to the Irish depth at MB. The core of last years National Runner-Up squad returns for an opportunity to take the Gold in 2012.