Irish season ends with four game loss to Buckeyes
By MATT OLIVA
For the first time since 1992, Notre Dame lost in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, as Ohio State defeated Notre Dame in four games.
Ohio State closed out Notre Dame's volleyball season behind the strong offensive performance of Rosie Snow. Snow finished the match with 24 kills, as the Buckeyes defeated the Irish 13-15, 15-10, 16-14 and 15-7.
The Irish finished their season with a 20-9 record, while the Buckeyes improved to 17-11 overall and met the winner of the UCLA-Eastern Washington match in the second round of the tournament Sunday.
Kristy Kreher led the Irish with 24 kills, while Mary Leffers finished with a double-double, contributing 10 blocks and 12 kills. The Irish also received strong performances from Christi Girton and Denise Boylan. Boylan had 63 assists, six blocks and eight digs in the game, and Girton totaled 20 killswith .382 hitting average.
The Irish outhit (.321-.296) and outblocked the Buckeyes (16-10) but committed 15 service errors and gave up 12 aces in the losing cause.
"Our hitting and blocking was great, but we struggled with our passing and defense," said Irish captain Leffers.
The Irish took the first game by pulling away from the Buckeyes. The lead changed hands often in the game with Ohio State breaking a 7-7 tie to take a 10-7 lead. But the Irish answered back, scoring four straight points to take the 11-10 lead. After letting Ohio State into the lead at 12 points, Notre Dame returned to win the first match, 15-13.
In the second game, the Buckeyes got off to a fast start and held an 11-3 advantage at one point. The Irish were able to get as close as four points, but the Buckeye lead was too much for them to overcome, as Notre Dame dropped the second game 15-10.
The Irish took a quick 6-1 lead in game three, but the Buckeyes were able to battle back to tie it up. The two teams were tied at 11, 12 and 13 before Ohio State got to game point, having a 14-13 lead. After enduring three Ohio State game points, the Irish tied the score for the seventh time in game three at 14-14.
An ace by Buckeye Shelly Draeger, however, put Ohio State back at game point 15-14 with the game ending on the next play on an Irish net call, 16-14.
The Irish needed to win the next two games to advance in the tournament, but fell behind quickly in the fourth game. After falling behind 7-1, Notre Dame battled back to close the game within one point at 7-6.
The Irish were only able to manage one more point the rest of the way, as the Buckeyes defeated them in the fourth game to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The loss in the tournament marked the end of the Notre Dame careers of seniors Mary Leffers and Emily Shiebout.
"It's been a great year and we've had a great team," Irish head coach Debbie Brown said.
All Sports Stories for Tuesday, December 7, 1999