Sept. 19, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - A convincing 3-0 (25-10, 25-20, 25-17) win over Liberty on Friday snapped a four-match losing streak for the Notre Dame volleyball team as the squad dominated all facets of the game in front of 1,239 fans at the Joyce Center. The Irish (4-6) victory on the first day of the Golden Dome Invitational gave the team a boost of momentum heading into Saturday's match versus UC Irvine at 7:00 p.m. (ET).
Notre Dame was virtually unstoppable on the offensive end of the net to start the match against the Flames (8-3), posting a .591 attack percentage with only one hitting error. Junior setter Jamel Nicholas, who finished with a match-high 27 assists, capped off a 4-0 Irish run with a service ace to begin the first set. Junior Christina Kaelin and sophomore Kellie Sciacca pounded a pair of overpasses to push Notre Dame's lead to six points (9-3). A four-point run by the Irish midway through the period set the table for a pair of backrow attacks by Phillips to help seal the set, as the outside hitter would finish with four kills in the opening frame.
Kaelin had five of her 11 kills in the second set and did not commit an error the entire match, finishing with a .733 average. That percentage goes down as the 10th-best in school history (minimum four attacks/set).
Junior Mallorie Croal tallied an Irish point (8-3) by going over on the second hit in hopes of sparking another Irish charge in set two. However, Liberty was able to score on four of the next five rallies before Sciacca stopped the rush with a kill off the block. Notre Dame would finish with nine team blocks led by senior Justine Stremick's total of seven. Liberty stayed on its toes and came within one (12-11), but a powerful Stremick slider (19-14) and Phillips' tip to the back corner late in the frame (24-17) kept the scoreboard in Notre Dame's favor.
Nicholas and freshman Beth Wildermuth set the Irish to a .321 hitting average in the set and a .337 clip for the match. The Irish defense held the Flames to a .090 average on the night. Liberty was led by Chelaine McCarty's 11 kills. Freshman Kristen Dealy had eight kills on 13 swings with one error for a .538 average.
Fourteen Irish kills highlighted a third set in which the home team registered a .205 average. Notre Dame sailed out to an 18-10 lead and never looked back, though Liberty cut it to 20-17 before the Irish turned on the engines and scored the final five points.