Dec. 6, 1997
Notre Dame Volleyball Advances to NCAA Regionals
Win at #18 Arkansas sends Irish on to round of 16
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The University of Notre Dame women's volleyball team used one of its most balanced attacks of the season to end three years of frustration versus nationally-ranked teams in timely and dramatic fashion, as the Irish defeated the #18-ranked and central sub-regional host University of Arkansas 9-15, 15-7, 15-10, 16-14 in second-round NCAA Tournament action Saturday at Barnhill Arena.
Notre Dame (25-8) will advance to the Central Regional at a yet-to-be-determined site, based on Sunday's remaining sub-regional matches.
The Irish, who will advance to the regional round for the fourth time in the last five seasons, posted their first win over a nationally-ranked opponent since a 3-0 victory over then-#15 Colorado on Sept. 24, 1995. That 23-match streak had included 11 losses to top-10 teams and included all eight of Notre Dame's defeats this season. Saturday's win also halted an 18-match Arkansas winning streak that had included 36 consecutive games won.
The Irish trailed 5-1 in the second game before seizing command of the match by rattling off 25 of the next 28 points. Arkansas closed a 13-2 gap in the third game to 14-10 but Irish senior hitter Angie Harris pushed a kill down the left line to convert Notre Dame's fifth game point for a 2-1 lead.
Notre Dame then trailed 10-6 and 13-10 in game four but rallied to take a 14-13 lead before ending Arkansas' season on the fourth match point, fittingly on a kill be senior All-America candidate Jaimie Lee.
Lee (.294 hitting pct.) and Harris (.151) paced the Irish with 19 kills each. Sophomore middle Mary Leffers (.205)--who joined Harris in overcoming rocky starts--had 15 kills and junior middle Lindsay Treadwell chipped in 13 kills on a team-best .321 hitting. Freshman opposite Christi Girton snapped out of a recent hitting funk by recording eight kills and just two errors on 23 swings (.263).
Harris had a match-high 19 digs, followed by Lee and Treadwell with 14 each. Leffers and Treadwell both assisted on eight of Notre Dame's 12 blocks while Harris led all players with four timely aces and Leffers served two aces of her own.
Despite its mid-match domination, Notre Dame scored just nine more points than Arkansas. The teams posted near-identical hitting numbers (Arkansas holding a .217-.216 edge) but the Irish had 24 more swings that led to 10 more kills. Both teams had six aces, with the Irish making 13 service errors to Arkansas' nine. The Lady Razorbacks also were guilty of five costly ballhandling errors while Irish freshman setter Denise Boylan had just one.
Arkansas (30-6) tasted defeat for the first time since a 3-1 loss at South Carolina on Oct. 5. The Lady Razorbacks also suffered their first loss at home since midway through the 1996 season, a stretch of 18 home contests.
Senior hitter Krystal Osborne paced Arkansas with 16 kills on .238 hitting while junior middle Jessica Field chipped in 12 kills (.267). Most of Field's kills came on a tough slide attack, with four of them helping Arkansas take the opening game. Senior setter Tina Rico dumped the ball for 11 timely kills while the three other Lady Razorbacks' starters had 8-9 kills.
Leffers had no kills and three errors on nine attempts in the first game before closing with 15 kills and just four errors over the final three games--highlighted by 10 kills and one error on 12 swings over the second and third game. Harris had four kills but three errors in game one before answering with 15 kills of her own (vs. eight errors) in the final three games.
GAME ONE: The opening game was tied 6-6 before Arkansas went on a seven-point run, highlighted by successive blocks on Angie Harris and three slide attacks from Field .. .the Irish had trouble with the hosts' serve, as Yarleen Santiago served three straight early points while Kim Storey rattled off six straight service points to push Arkansas ahead 13-6 ... Notre Dame had nine kills but eight errors (.030) in the opening game while Arkansas hit .448.
GAME TWO: The Irish bounced back with a .390-.150 hitting edge in the second game, led by Lee (6 kills-0 errors-12 attempts), Treadwell (5-0-7) and Leffers (4-1-5) ... Notre Dame overcame six service errors ... Arkansas raced ahead 5-1 and was poised to pad its lead with the dangerous Storey set to serve ... but after a long rally, a kill by Osborne was nullified after Osborne went into the net ... Lee then served six straight points and the Irish ultimately completed a 13-point run for a 14-5 lead ... Lee's big serving flurry began with Leffers slamming down an overpassed set before Treadwell went down the right line, prompting an Arkansas timeout ... Treadwell then converted on the slide and freshman Adrienne Shimmel came up with a tough dig on a Field slide attack to set up a Leffers flick kill for a 5-5 game ... Leffers and Treadwell kept the rally going with a block on Santiago and Harris pushed the Irish ahead 7-5 with a booming crosscourt kill ... Leffers served four straight points for a 13-5 Irish lead, with Leffers sandwiching an ace between two Arkansas hitting errors before Lee went crosscourt ... Osborne hit long moments later to complete Notre Dame's 13-point run.
GAME THREE: A hitting error by Boylan left the Irish with a 2-1 lead but Notre Dame reeled off the next eight points and 11 of the next 12, sparked by a bullet back-row attack from Harris that found the left corner and a classic topspin jumpserve ace from Harris just moments later ... Arkansas closed to 13-6 but a wide attack from Osborne brought on game point ... the host chipped ahead to 14-10 and the teams then traded five sideouts before Harris pushed home the game-winner ... Arkansas owned a 5-1 blocking edge in the game but hit just .205 (to Notre Dame's .275) ... Harris paced the Irish in the game with seven kills while Leffers had six kills and no errors on seven swings ... Lee had four kills and no errors on 11 attempts.
GAME FOUR: The Irish came up with six blocks in the decisive game while Harris made 11 digs and a balanced attack included seven kills from Lee, five each from Leffers and Treadwell and four each from Harris and Girton ... as they did for the match, the teams had near-identical hitting percentages (with the Irish holding a .165-.164 edge) ... Osborne served three straight points, highlighted by two aces, to push Arkansas in front 7-3 before Leffers answered with three straight service points, behind a pair of kills off the block from Lee and a quick set to Girton ... the hosts again scored three straight for a 10-6 edge and stretched to 13-10 when Rico knocked down an overpass and Field came up with a solo block on Leffers ... Girton then hit off the block and Lee earned the next sideout with a rare crosscourt slide attack ... with Boylan serving, Treadwell put back her own attack and Lee tipped back a tip from Rohme to produce a 13-12 game ... Treadwell then hit wide on a long rally but sided out with a quick hit, followed by a crosscourt kill from Rohme and a running serve-receive tip on the right side by Lee ... the Irish surged in front behind Lee's serving, with Leffers and Treadwell combining to block Osborne before Leffers, Treadwell and Harris scored a triple block for a 14-13 lead ... Arkansas sided out on three straight match points and gained the 14-14 equalizer on a dump by Rico ... the ensuing long rally ended with a quick hit from Leffers but Field sided out with another slide attack before Girton put down a free ball ... with Boylan serving, Leffers came up with a huge dig on a Rico dump attempt and Treadwell and Girton blocked Field for a 15-14 Irish lead before Lee knocked home the final kill.
LEE & HARRIS NOTES: Lee has 100 kills in the last five matches (4.76/gm) ... Lee's 67 career double-digit kill matches rank fourth in Irish history, one behind '89 grad Zanette Bennett's 68 (Harris has an Irish record 87) ... Harris has 475 kills for the season, third on the Irish all-time list (besting Harris' sophomore-year total of 471) ... Lee's 451 kills rank fifth in Irish history ... after missing 17 matches last season due to multiple knee problems, Harris has logged 113 of 115 games this season, for a .983 percentage of games played that ranks fifth in Irish history (Lee also played in 98.3 percent of the games last season) ... Lee's season kill average now stands at 4.42/gm (second in Irish history) while Harris ranks fifth at 4.20 ... Harris has totaled 10-plus kills in 27 matches this season, third-most in Irish history (Harris had 29 in 1995 to tie Peters record that was set in '93) ... Lee has 25 double-digit kill efforts, fifth all-time at Notre Dame ... Harris has boosted her career kill average to 3.97/gm, all but assuring that she will break Peters' Irish record of 3.82 ... Harris has 1,020 career digs, seventh in Irish history and just five behind '94 graduate Janelle Karlan (Lee is fifth, at 1,133) ... Lee has lost her status as the only player in the Notre Dame career top 10 for kills, hitting pct., digs, aces, assists and blocks, as Treadwell now ranks 10th with 280 blocks while Lee is 11th with 277
PLAYER NOTES: Boylan (1,277) suddenly is closing in on the Irish record for assists by a freshman, set by another Chicago-area native, Julie Bremner (Wheaton), in 1988 (1,340) ... Bremner's sister Bonnie, a sophomore setter for the NCAAs #1-seeded team Penn State, last week was named the Big Ten Conference player of the year ... Boylan's season assist average (12.16) is best-ever by an Irish freshman and fourth all-time among Notre Dame setters ... Treadwell's recent blocking surge has included 30 blocks in the last five matches (18 games).
TEAM NOTES: Notre Dame will be playing in the state of Wisconsin for the first time in the seven-year Debbie Brown era, representing the 29th state/district/country visited by the Irish volleyball team in those seven years ... during the Brown era, Notre Dame has won six times on the home court of a ranked opponent: New #13 Mexico (3-2, '92), #21 Hawaii (3-0, '92), #15 Colorado (3-1, '94), #15 Texas (3-1, '94), #9 Florida (3-1, '94) and #18 Arkansas (3-1, '97).