Nov. 15, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - All cylinders clicked Sunday afternoon for No. 24 Notre Dame as the Irish finished their volleyball regular season at Purcell Pavilion with a 3-1 (25-18, 23-25, 25-21, 25-19) win over visiting USF. Notre Dame became the second team in league history to win each of its 14 regular-season conference contests as St. John's accomplished the feat in 2006, the first season in which the BIG EAST extended the league slate to 14 games.
Now with seven undefeated BIG EAST regular-season efforts under its belt, Notre Dame (20-4 overall, 14-0 BIG EAST) last went unscathed in BIG EAST play in 2001 (12-0). The victory also earned the program its 18th 20-win season in 30 years of varsity competition.
"Our team has been so motivated to win the regular season title and one of our goals was to go undefeated in league play, so this is a big day for everyone involved," Irish head coach Debbie Brown said. "We've worked really hard up to this point, but we know the best part of the season is still ahead of us. It's certainly our next goal to win the BIG EAST Championship and head to the NCAA Tournament."
Top-seeded Notre Dame will face eighth-seeded Seton Hall in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship hosted by Louisville at the Kentucky International Convention Center. Seton Hall will make its first appearance in the tournament since 1994 after defeating West Virginia earlier today. The match will begin at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on Friday (Nov. 20).
The Irish were honored after the match with the league's regular-season championship trophy, which was clinched after a 3-0 win against Georgetown on Friday.
Phillips led all players with 19 kills and accounted for 24.0 points, adding five digs and a team-high six blocks. She was one of seven Irish players to record blocks as the team totaled seven solo stuffs and 16 block assists.
Kaelin turned in 13 kills and a career-high two service aces from behind the line.
Dishing out 48 assists was Nicholas, who also had two aces, 14 digs and a pair of blocks. Fesl went for three kills and 10 digs with four blocks while Enzweiler had five kills on eight swings with five rejections. Kristoff added two digs and two blocks.
Notre Dame hit .293 while holding the Bulls to a .164 clip. Marcela Gurgel, who had 15 kills, led USF while Alli Arbogast had 10 kills on 16 errorless swings with four blocks.
Fesl's back-to-back solo blocks gave Notre Dame an 11-8 lead in the first. Phillips (13-9 and 14-9) and Kristoff (20-14 and 21-14) also recorded blocks on consecutive plays.
Notre Dame lost control of the second set after leading, 11-7, and trailed by a 20-18 margin. Kaelin's kill gave Notre Dame the lead again at 22-21 but USF scored the next three to put itself in position for set point.
Phillips had six kills in the third as Notre Dame scored the first five points of the period. The Irish sailed ahead to a 20-10 lead but the Bulls scored 10 of the next 14 to put the pressure on the home team. Notre Dame went to Kaelin on its third set point and the outside hitter converted.
Kaelin set her career-high with the second ace from her jump serve at 11-8 in the fourth set. The last of the five stalemates in the period came at 7-7 before Phillips bounced a Nicholas set to start a 7-3 run.
Sophomore Kristen Dealy came off the bench in the fourth with a team-high five digs.