Nov. 22, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame volleyball team closes out the 2012 regular season at 7 p.m. (ET) Friday as it meets up with the Mid-American Conference's Ohio Bobcats at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio.
Settled in at No. 36 in the RPI, the Irish (20-8) look to boost their NCAA Tournament resume with a win over the No. 62 Bobcats (20-10). The 64-team bracket will be announced in its entirety at 4 p.m. (ET) Sunday, Nov. 25 on ESPNU. Notre Dame is hoping for one of 33 at-large spots after the 31 conference champions are placed. To state their case, the Irish would point to wins over two top-10 RPI teams in Louisville (No. 4) and Kansas (No. 6), while seven of their eight losses have comes to teams in the top 50 in the RPI, including four losses to teams in the top 25.
Notre Dame is coming off a disappointing loss in the BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinals to USF (3-1) last Friday. The defeat was the first ever to the Bulls, and was also the first time the Irish failed to win at least one game in the BIG EAST Tournament since joining the league in 1995.
At the conference awards banquet last Thursday night, sophomore big hitters Toni Alugbue and Jeni Houser were named first team all-BIG EAST, while setter Maggie Brindock earned second team all-BIG EAST accolades.
Ohio has had a very similar year to the Irish, as they took some lumps to highly ranked teams during the non-conference schedule, before getting into MAC play and running off an 11-match winning streak to end the regular season with a 14-2 mark in conference. In last weekend's MAC Tournament, the Bobcats defeated Ball State (3-0) before falling to tournament runner-up Northern Illinois (3-2) in the semifinals.
MAC Player of the Year Kelly Lamberti leads the Bobcats squad that had seven individuals selected to the all-MAC first, second and freshman teams. Lamberti leads the team in kills (423), total attacks (1,202), and service aces (29), while ranking fourth in blocks (53) and second in digs (362).
The Irish and Bobcats do have some history together as the two battled in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2009 at Ann Arbor, Mich. Ohio pulled out a thrilling 3-2 win to advance to the round of 32. Overall, the Bobcats hold a 3-1 advantage, with the lone Irish win coming in 1992 (3-0).
For fans not in attendance, Ohio does offer free live stats as well as free video. Links for both can be found on UND.com.