ND VOLLEYBALL: Irish take two on the road
With everybody contributing to the offense, the Notre Dame volleyball team (10-3, 5-0 in the Big East) added two road wins to its undefeated conference record this weekend, sweeping Boston College on Saturday before topping Connecticut in four games Sunday.
In Sunday's match against the Huskies, Big East preseason player of the year Kristy Kreher proved her mettle against one of the tougher conference opponents. Kreher totaled 20 blocks in the four games for her eighth career 20-kill match. Only four other Irish volleyball players have ever had more 20-kill contests. Kreher's success was made possible by the smart decision-making of sophomore setter Kristen Kinder, who finished with 56 assists.
"Kristen did a good job of spreading things around today," Irish head coach Debbie Brown said of Kinder. "Getting the ball to Kristy Kreher more than anybody else was important. She was definitely on today and had a very good match for us."
Kreher wasn't the only one spiking well against the Huskies. Kim Fletcher added 14 kills, while Malinda Goralski and Emily Loomis each added 12. Fletcher posted a .455 hitting percentage and led the Irish with seven blocks.
"I think that's really important for us when we can have the numbers like that across the board," Brown said. "I would just say that all the hitters are carrying a good strong load offensively."
Notre Dame won a close 30-27 match in game one, but fell in game two when the Connecticut took control. The Huskies totaled 22 kills, hitting .302 compared to Notre Dame's .146 hitting on 13 kills.
The Irish came back strong as the Connecticut offense proved inferior in the final two games. During Notre Dame's 30-21 victory in game three, UConn hit just .135 to Notre Dame's .324 clip. In the deciding fourth game, Notre Dame hit only .237 but the Huskies made as many hitting errors, 13, as kills scored to finish with a .000 percentage.
"I think we rebounded real well in game three," Brown said. "In game four it was really our serving and blocking that was really strong in that game and held Connecticut to a zero hitting percentage."
Notre Dame performed well on the block in both weekend games. The Irish finished with 13 total blocks in each contest.
In fact, blocking, serving and defense proved the keys to victory in Chestnut Hill on Saturday as the Irish won all three games (30-23, 30-17, 31-29) despite hitting only .214 in the match, including a .077 mark in the third game.
Malinda Goralski led the way against the Golden Eagles with nine kills on a .368 hitting percentage while Kreher and Fletcher each added seven kills. But Notre Dame won the match with a strong defensive effort.
Notre Dame held Boston College to .035 hitting, digging 57 attacks. Defensive specialists Christa Moen and Janie Alderete each reached double-digit digs, Aldrete with 13 and Moen with a career-high 10.
"They both played very well," Brown said of the defensive specialists. "I think Boston College is a very strong defensive team. That is certainly one of their strengths. I thought we really hung with them well in that area, did a lot of scrambling, got a lot of balls up."
Despite the fact that no Irish player reached double-digit kills in the match, Brown was satisfied with her team's effort.
"I think we scored a lot of points on our block and serve, not so much on our kills," Brown said. "We just got more points in other ways."
Notre Dame continues its Big East season Friday at 4 p.m., hosting Villanova in the Joyce Center.
All Sports Stories for Monday, October 8, 2001