Aug. 31, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Behind a career-high 20 kills from Jeni Houser and a steady 10 kill, five block effort from Andie Olsen, the Notre Dame volleyball team rallied from a rough first set and a half to top the UAB Blazers, 3-1 (20-25, 25-23, 27-25, 25-23), in front of 1,106 fans at Purcell Pavilion on day one of the Shamrock Invitational.
Notre Dame (2-2) played a sloppy set and a half to open the contest, and the Blazers capitalized, cruising to victory in the first set and taking a six-point lead midway through the second. However, the Irish steadied the ship and rebounded to win the final three sets to pick up their second win of the year.
Four Irish student-athletes pounded out 10 or more kills, led by Houser's career-best 20. Also in double figures were Toni Alugbue (11), Andrea McHugh (10) and Olsen (10). Olsen and Houser hit a whopping .471 and .455 respectively to efficiently suppress the Blazer run. Setting the table for the Irish was junior tri-captain and setter Maggie Brindock, who assisted on 44 kills, while also contributing eight digs, five kills and three blocks.
Both McHugh (10K, 11D) and Alugbue (11K, 10D) recorded double-doubles. For the third time this season, freshman libero Taylor Morey led the team in digs (16), while sophomore Kathleen Severyn provided 10 digs.
The Blazers took the first set (25-20) after a sloppy Irish squad committed eight attack and four service errors. UAB led from beginning to end behind four kills from Serley, who hit .800 for the opening set. Michele Simmons had three kills on six attempts on her way to hitting .500.
Notre Dame made a mighty comeback in the second set as they overcame a late 17-11 deficit to win 25-23. The comeback began with a block by Olsen and Brindock to make it 17-12 as the Irish started chipping away at the lead. A service ace by Morey trimmed the lead to three at 18-15, and a kill by Houser cut the Blazer lead to two at 19-17. After UAB scored a point on a service error by the Irish, Notre Dame knotted the score at 20 after a kill by Houser and two consecutive blocks by the Irish frontline led by Roof. Notre Dame took its first lead at 22-21 on another kill from Houser, and then extended its lead on a service ace from Roof. The Irish closed out the set with kills from Olsen and Brindock to tie the match at one going into the locker room.
Houser powered the Irish in set two, tallying six kills and only one error in 11 attempts to record a .455 hitting percentage. Olsen registered four key kills to give Notre Dame a strong one-two punch.
Set three proved to be quite the back and forth affair, as each team held three-point leads, but couldn't extend the margin. The set saw 14 ties including 25-25 as the teams went to extra points. The set was on the brink for Notre Dame as it trailed 18-15. However, a kill by Olsen and a block by Alugbue trimmed the lead to one. The teams then traded points to knot the score at 23. After a block by UAB's Simmons and Serley put the set on the line for the Irish, a kill by Houser tied the score at 24. The Blazers again had an opportunity to win the set after a kill by Morrell, but the Irish ran off three consecutive points to win the set and take a 2-1 lead. McHugh got the rally started with a kill to tie the score at 25. After an attack error by the Blazers, the Irish clinched the set with a block by Olsen and Brindock. Alugbue and Olsen each had four kills in set three, while Houser had five.
Notre Dame closed out the match with a thrilling fourth-set win, 25-23. In another back and forth set, the Irish took a big lead at 10-6, only to see their lead slip away. The Blazers took a 17-14 lead on a kill, service ace and Irish attack error, but Notre Dame wouldn't falter, as it knotted the score at 18 behind Houser and Brindock kills and a service ace from Alugbue. The teams traded points until the score hit 21 all. Olsen made her presence known with a kill and a block to push the lead to 23-21. The Irish ended the contest on an Alugbue block.
In earlier action, Buffalo swept Eastern Kentucky, 3-0. Tomorrow's action gets underway at 4:30 when the Colonels and the Blazers square off. The Irish get back in action at 7 p.m. against the Bulls. Fans can watch the later match on live stream on UND.com.