Irish claim Big East title with dramatic victory
By MATT OLIVA
The Irish came back from two games down to Georgetown to claim the Big East regular season title on Sunday.
With a perfect 11-0 conference record, Notre Dame claims the title for the fourth time in the last five years. The win gives the Irish (18-6) the top seed at the Big East tournament this weekend, where they will face the winner of Saturday's Rutgers-Connecticut match.
The Hoyas took a commanding lead, winning the first game 15-1 and the second game 15-11.
The Irish came back to win the next two games, 15-7 and 15-6, hitting .381 and .500 respectively to tie the match at two games apiece.
In the fifth game, Georgetown had a 14-13 lead but failed to put the Irish away. The Irish were able to tie the match at 14, and then take a 15-14 lead. After Georgetown tied the game once more, Notre Dame scored two unanswered points for the 17-15 game and 3-2 match victory.
Mary Leffers led the way for the Irish. She finished with a match-high 18 kills on .469 hitting and added 10 blocks.
Outside hitters Christi Girton and Marcie Bomhack also contributed to the Irish offense. Girton had 16 kills and Bomhack had 11 as the Irish finished with 54 kills for the match.
Emily Shiebout led the Irish on defense with 13 digs and junior captain Denise Boylan finished with 47 assists.
"Georgetown played great and took us out of our rhythm early," head coach Debbie Brown said. "I think we regained some of our composure in game two and played strong in games three and four. Game five just was a battle all the way."
The loss drops Georgetown's record to 25-4 overall and 9-2 in the Big East.
Outside hitter Kiran Gill, who had 15 kills and seven aces, and Lauren Warner, who contributed 10 kills, 11 digs and five aces both led the Hoyas in the match.
Before the Irish had a chance to defeat Georgetown for the conference title, they had to defeat Villanova on Saturday. Notre Dame left no doubt that Sunday's matchup would be for the title by easily knocking off the Wildcats in three games.
Girton led the Irish with a double-double, 16 kills and 11 digs, as the Irish finished the match with a season high .510 hitting percentage. The Irish were never behind in the first two games, winning by the scores of 15-4 and 15-6. After falling behind 2-0 in the third game the Irish pull away with a 15-6 win. The loss dropped the Wildcats conference record to 0-10.
As a team, the Irish finished with 60 kills and outdug the Wildcats by a 46-24 margin.
Sophomore Marcie Bomhack tallied 14 kills in 21 attempts, hitting .619 on the day. Junior setter Denise Boylan dished out 35 assists for the Irish and senior Mary Leffers added to her Big East leading block total with seven blocks.
"All of us were really aiming for the Big East title, especially since we lost it last year," Brown said. "The team has shown tremendous character in getting where we are today."
All Sports Stories for Tuesday, November 16, 1999