Notre Dame Beats Pittsburgh
Irish Advance to Big East Title Match
|Jaime Lee leads a balanced Irish attack with 12 kills.|
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J.-- Senior hitters Jaimie Lee and Angie Harris both had 12 kills to lead a balanced Notre Dame offensive as the Irish defeated Pittsburgh 15-7, 15-11, 15-9 in semi-final action Saturday at the Big East Tournament, held at Seton Hall's Walsh Gymnasium.
Notre Dame (22-6)-the Big East regular season champion and two-time defending tournament champ-will face #2 seed Villanova in Sunday's 2:00 p.m. championship match, with the winner to receive the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.The Wildcats (20-7) defeated Connecticut 15-7, 19-15, 16-14 and 15-7 in Saturday's other semi-final.
The Irish stretched their winning streak to nine matches, equaling the fourth-longest in team history, and have lost just once in their last 17 matches, a four-game loss at then #9 Texas in Oct 21. Notre Dame's winning streak vs. conference teams now stands at 75 matches (including 38 in the Big East).
Pittsburgh (15-13) failed to reach the Big East championship match for just the third time in 16 seasons and the first time since 1987. Jessica Van Der Maille led Pitt with 10 kills while Melissa Alpers had nine and Peggy Meinhart had eight on .466 hitting.
Lee totalled her 12 kills on a .391 hitting pct. while Harris hit .290 on 31 attempts. Harris recorded double-digit kills for the 15th straight match, one shy of equaling the Irish record set by Christy peters in 1993. Saturday's 12 kills moves Harris into sole possession of second place on the Irish career kills list with 1,483.
Notre Dame's starting middle blockers-junior Lindsay Treadwell and sophomore Mary Leffers-each had right kills and one error, with Treadwell hitting .500 on 14 attempts and Leffers .368 on 19 swings.
Freshman Jo Jameyson provided three timely kills over the course of the final two games. The Irish hit .274 for the match, a few points below its season average (.281), but limited Pittsburgh to .219 hitting. Notre Dame held a 9-5 blocking edge while Pitt had seven aces to Notre Dame's six.
Notre Dame again used both of its setters, with senior Carey May replacing freshman Denise Boylan with the Irish trailing 8-0 in the second game. May sparked the Irish to .333 hitting in the game as Notre Dame captured 15 of the final 18 points to take a 2-0 lead. May and Boylan then split time in the third game.
The Irish used a 7-0 run to break open a 2-2 score in the first game and then spotted Pittsburgh the 8-0 lead in the second game. Lee then took over by recording five kills and back-to-back aces during the Irish rally from eight points down.
The Panthers jumped ahead again in game three, holding leads of 5-1 and 8-4. But the Irish rallied again, scoring 11 of the matches final 12 points. Lee, Harris and Treadwell each had two kills in the clinching run while Treadwell combined with Harris and Lee on consecutive blocks for points before adding a solo block on Marcia Thiesen to cut Pitts lead to 8-7. Back-to-back aces from Jameyson brought on match point and Harris slammed home an overpass for the final kill.