Notre Dame Spikes St. John's 3-0
Irish Open Defense Of Big East Title
Notre Dame, Ind. - Freshman rightside hitter Christi Girton (Muncie, Ind.) continued her impressive play as a member of the starting lineup while helping the two-time defending BIG EAST Conference champion University of Notre Dame volleyball team to a 15-4, 15-2, 15-4 victory over visiting St. John's in BIG EAST Conference action Friday at the Joyce Center Arena.
Notre Dame (8-5) held St. John's (6-7) to negative hitting in the first game (-.074) before using strong serving to open up big leads in the second and third games. Senior hitter Jaimie Lee opened the second game with six straight service points and the Irish stretched to a lead of 11-1 before finishing game two when the Red Storm's Kristine Knoebel hit wide.
In game three, the Irish stretched to a 9-0 lead over the first three rotations, with sophomore hitter Mandi Powell serving three points and freshman opposite Jo Jameyson serving five straight. Notre Dame stretched to an 11-2 lead in the third game before closing out the match in 57 minutes.
Notre Dame has won all 27 of its matches against BIG EAST opponents since joining the conference in 1995, with 23 of those victories coming by 3-0 scores. The Irish have yet to lose to a conference opponent in the seven-year tenure of head coach Debbie Brown, going 64-0 over that stretch (including 37-0 in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, from 1991-94).
Several Irish reserves again played impressively in game three, as Notre Dame posted its best hitting of the match (.429) while holding the visitors to negative hitting (-.028) for the third straight game.
The 6-3 Girton enjoyed the best match of her young Irish career, totaling 10 kills and just one error on 14 swings for a .643 hitting percentage--one of the best efforts by a Notre Dame player during the 1997 season. Notre Dame's offensive attack also included six kills and no errors on nine attempts (.667) from sophomore middle Mary Leffers. Senior hitters Jaimie Lee (8 kills, .353) and Angie Harris (6 kills, .125) rounded out the bulk of the Irish attack.
Notre Dame hit .311 as a team, its third-best effort of the season, while holding the Red Storm to negative hitting for the match (-.054)--the lowest hitting pct. by an Irish opponent this season. The Irish totaled five service aces to St. John's one while Girton had a hand in three of the six Irish blocks, including one solo.
Harris served the 200th ace of her Notre Dame career midway through the first game, extending the Irish record that she has held since 1995. Her career ace average now stands at 0.617 per game, nearly double that of the previous Irish record of 0.383 set by Nicole Coates (1991-94).
The victory was the 290th of Brown's 12-year Division I head coaching career, leaving her 10 shy of the 300 wins plateau.
Notre Dame has won 50 of its last 51 home matches against unranked opponents and is 75-3 at home versus unranked teams during the Brown era (1991- ).
Lee served her 88th career ace early in the first game to move into ninth on the Irish career aces list.