Nov. 23, 1997
Notre Dame Volleyball Claims BIG EAST Tourney Title, 6th Straight NCAA Bid
Lee earns MVP honors after totaling career-best 29 kills in title match vs. Villanova
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. - BIG EAST player of the year Jaimie
Lee turned in a career-best 29 kills to earn tournament MVP
honors as the Notre Dame volleyball team claimed an automatic
berth in the NCAA Tournament with a 9-15, 15-3, 15-10, 15-4
victory over Villanova in the championship match of the BIG
EAST Conference Tournament, held Sunday afternoon at Seton
Hall's Walsh Gymnasium.
Jaime Lee posted a career-high 29 kills to lead the Irish. (File Photo)
Notre Dame (23-6) will advance to the NCAAs for the sixth
straight season and seventh time in the last 10 years. The
Irish advanced to the NCAA regional round in 1993, '94 and '95,
including a program-best quarterfinal appearance in '93.
Villanova (20-8), the tournament's #2 seed and regular season
runner-up, used strong backrow play and timely kills from
Marisa Davidson and Elizabeth Jones to claim the first game and
stay competitive in the third. Davidson finished with 16 kills
while Jones had 12.
Lee hit .317 in the title match, totaling 29 kills and 10
errors on 60 attempts. The 29 kills best the previous Irish
four-game record of 28, set by Zanette Bennett vs. Wisconsin in
1987. Lee's previous career high in kills was 27 in the
five-game NCAA Tournament loss to Ohio state last season. Lee's
29 kills are fourth-highest ever by an Irish volleyball player
and the most since Christy Peters had 31 vs. Santa Clara in
Notre Dame next plays at the annual Long Beach State
Thanksgiving tournament. The Irish will face the nation's
current #6-ranked team UC Santa Barbara on Nov 28 before facing
the hosts and #1 ranked 49ers on the 29th. The 56-team NCAA
Tournament field and pairings will be announced on Nov. 30 (the
top eight seeds will host three-team sub-regionals while seeds
9-16 will host four-team sub-regionals), with the first and
second round matches to be held Dec. 4-7.
The Irish stretched their winning streak to 10 matches,
fourth-longest in team history, and have lost just once in
their last 18 matches, a four-game loss at then-#9 Texas on Oct
21. Notre Dame's winning streak vs. conference teams now stands
at 76 matches (including 39 in the BIG EAST), the nation's
longest active streak and third-longest in Division I
Lee had six kills in the second game and then erupted for 12 in
the third to help the Irish seize momentum from the
upset-minded Wildcats. Her fellow senior hitter Angie Harris
had 14 kills and 13 digs while junior middle Lindsay Treadwell
had a team-best 15 digs and had a hand in 11 Irish blocks.
Treadwell had eight kills and no errors on 17 swings (for a
team-best .471 hitting pct. ) while sophomore middle Mary
Leffers had 12 kills and two errors on 22 attempts (.455).
Freshman opposite Christi Girton had a hand in six Irish blocks
and chipped in six kills.
Notre Dame owned a decisive .325-.140 hitting edge, improving
on its .281 season hitting pct. that ranks 13th in the nation.
The Irish also owned a 19-13 blocking edge but had problems at
the service line, totaling just three aces while racking up 16
The Wildcats jumped out in the first game to leads of 11-4 and
14-6, but could not convert on their first five game points
before Stacey Evans found the back right corner for the 15-9
win. The Irish were guilty of five service errors in the
opening game while the Wildcats came up with several tough digs
of strong attacks from Lee and Harris.
The Irish stretched to leads of 8-1 and 11-2 in the second game
en route to tying the match (1-1). Notre Dame then led 7-3 in
game three, but Villanova clawed back to take an 8-7 lead
before the Irish regained control.
Harris recorded double-digit kills for the 16th straight match,
equaling the Irish record set by Peters in 1993. Harris heads
to the Long Beach tournament just three kills shy of the 1,500
career kill milestone and needs 21 more digs to become the
sixth member of Notre Dame's 1,000 kills/1,000 digs club.
Sunday's match represented the 34th "double-double" match of
Harris' career (10-plus kills, 10-plus digs), tied for third in
Lee now has 63 career double-digit kill matches, fourth in
Irish history (Harris is first with 84). Lee has hit for
20-plus kills in 12 career matches, including four in 1997.