Notre Dame opens conference with two victories
By MATT OLIVA
The Notre Dame volleyball team opened its conference season this past weekend with two convincing victories.
On Friday, the Irish (8-3, 2-0) defeated West Virginia in three games, 15-7, 15-6, 15-9, before knocking off Pittsburgh 15-5, 15-6, 15-6 on Sunday.
In the Big East opener, the Irish outplayed the Mountaineers (8-10, 0-1) in all areas of the game. Mary Leffers finished with a match-high 18 kills and a .567 hitting percentage, while teammates Kristy Kreher and Christy Girton each contributed 11 kills. Denise Boylan finished the match with 35 assists, one more than the entire West Virginia team totaled.
Defensively the Irish were also impressive, holding the Mountaineers to a .098 hitting percentage. Notre Dame also totaled 49 digs, led by Marcie Bomhack's match-high 16, and out-blocked West Virginia 11-1.
"Going into this weekend, we noticed that we were at the bottom of the Big East statistics in digs per game," Irish head coach Debbie Brown said. "We concentrated on improving this aspect of our game and that was our key to play good defense."
Against the Panthers (6-6, 0-2) on Sunday, the Irish were just as impressive. They won the first two games without ever trailing.
In the third game, the Irish trailed 5-1, but regrouped after a time-out to tie the game at 5. They surrendered only one more point to the Panthers on their way to a 15-6 victory and win match 3-0.
"Pittsburgh was without one of their top players," Brown said. "We did not know what changes they would make, so we were looking to control the match by blocking well and playing good defense."
Kreher, Girton and Leffers all finished in double figures in kills, leading the Irish to a team .330 hitting percentage. Defensively, Notre Dame had another strong game. The Irish finished with 47 digs compared to 27 by Pittsburgh.
Bomhack and Keara Coughlin each totaled 10 digs for match highs. The Irish also out-blocked their opponent in this match 11-7.
"These games were good for us," Brown said. "Looking back, West Virginia beat us in three games and we had a tough five-game match with Pittsburgh. So it was revenge to beat West Virginia and a big step for our team to control both teams, because we expected both teams to be strong."
The next match for Notre Dame is against Michigan. The Irish will host the Wolverines tonight at 7 p.m. at the Joyce Center.
They will continue their Big East conference schedule this weekend on the road against Rutgers and Seton Hall.
All Sports Stories for Tuesday, October 5, 1999