Aug. 27, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - A brief hiccup in the first set by the Notre Dame volleyball team was not enough to keep them out of the win column Friday evening in the season-opening match against visiting Marshall. After falling behind, 1-0, Notre Dame bounced back to win the next three frames to post a 3-1 (24-26, 25-15, 25-21, 25-18) victory in front of 1,060 fans at the Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center on the opening day of the Shamrock Invitational presented by Hyatt Place.
The Irish (1-0) rode the wave behind senior Kellie Sciacca's career-high 21 kills on a .645 hitting clip, the fourth-best average ever by a Notre Dame player in a four-set match. Sciacca had 21 kills on 31 swings with just a single error and added four block assists.
She was aided by freshman Sammie Brown's 51 assists which helped the Irish out-hit Marshall (0-1), .281 to .190. Brown tacked on 10 digs. Classmate Andrea McHugh was equally impressive her collegiate debut with 11 kills, 16 digs and one of six Irish aces. Junior Kristen Dealy notched the 22nd double-double of her career with 15 kills while leading the Irish with 17 digs and three aces. Dealy also had three blocks as Notre Dame totaled nine on the evening.
"I'm really pleased with the team effort we had tonight," Irish head coach Debbie Brown said. "It was great execution of the game plan and very strong hitting by everyone. Alll of our players contributed and having four of them with double-figure digs spoke well of our play around the court. That's a good indication of our collective effort. Sammie and Andrea showed great composure for playing in their first match, and I know we'll continue to get better."
The Thundering Herd received 15 kills from Elizabeth Herman and a match-high 20 digs from Ryanne Milligan in the losing effort.
The Shamrock Invitational continues Saturday (Aug. 28) with Cal Poly taking on Marshall at 12:00 p.m. (ET). Marshall will stay on the court to face No. 18 Arizona, who was upset by Cal Poly in five sets earlier today, at 5:00 p.m. Notre Dame and Cal Poly will square off in the nightcap at 7:30 p.m. Live audio and stats will be available at UND.com.
Twelve knotted scores marked the first set as Herman blasted seven kills for Marshall. Kelley Bugler had four kills over a five-point swing to give Marshall an 8-7 lead, and the visitors would not trail again after that point. Notre Dame found itself behind late by a pair and eventually tied it at 24-24 on a Dealy ace, but Bugler added another kill and the Irish faulted on their next attack.
The heat turned up a level in the second set as Dealy went for six kills on 13 errorless attempts. Notre Dame had 17 kills with a .324 average as Marshall mustered only five kills for a .074 mark. Tied at 6-6, Sammie Brown rattled off eight serves that the Irish eventually converted into scores to take a 14-6 lead, feeding Roof on three of those points.
Notre Dame had just two errors in the third as Sciacca went 7-for-8 from the field without a fault. Sophomore Hilary Eppink, McHugh and Dealy each added three kills in the set. Dealy set the tone with back-to-back aces to make it 11-3 in favor of the home team. Leading 24-18, Notre Dame allowed the Thundering Herd to come back with three straight scores to make it a game. Eppink hammered the nail in the coffin on set point.
Marshall turned in another dismal hitting clip in the fourth set (.056) while the Irish managed to do a bit better (.175) to secure the win. Things were tight in the early stages until Notre Dame turned a 9-9 tie into a 15-9 advantage. Sciacca had four kills on six attempts, including her 21st kill of the evening on match point.
The win improved Notre Dame's record in home openers to 24-7 (19-1 under Brown). The Irish are now 17-5 at home in the month of August.