MILWAUKEE, Wis. – No. 5 seed Notre Dame (17-11, 8-6 BIG EAST) defeated No. 1 seed Louisville (22-8, 13-1 BIG EAST) 3-1 (25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 25-19) in the first semifinal match of the BIG EAST Volleyball Championship on Saturday at the Al McGuire Center. Notre Dame looks to win its tenth BIG EAST title since joining the league in 1995. Louisville which won the past three BIG EAST Championships fails to make the title match for the first time since joining the league in 2005.
Senior Kristen Dealy and sophomore Andrea McHugh lead the Irish with 13 kills and 11 kills, respectively. Dealy along with fellow senior Frenchy Silva each collected 18 digs. BIG EAST Player of the Year Lola Arslanbekova recorded 24 kills and 10 digs for Louisville.
Notre Dame, who lost to Louisville 3-1 on Oct. 2, claimed the first set 25-22. Dealy notched six kills and five digs in the opening set. Arslanbekova led the Cardinals with eight kills while sophomore Emily Juhl had three.
The Cardinals bounced back to take the second set 25-22. After Louisville jumped out to a 9-4 lead, Notre Dame scored the next 10 points to take a 14-9 lead. Trailing 22-17, Louisville scored the final eight points of the set to even the match at one set apiece. Arslanbekova had nine kills in the second set as the Cardinals posted a .343 hitting percentage. McHugh and freshman Jeni Houser each had 4 kills for Notre Dame.
The Irish captured the third set 25-21. With the match tied at 20, Notre Dame scored five of the last six points to take the set. Notre Dame had six blocks which helped them control the set. Once again Arslanbekova was the main offensive threat for the Cardinals with five kills.
The Irish took the final set 25-19 by taking an early 4-1 lead. Notre Dame extended its lead 14-9 on a kill by freshman Toni Alugbue. Houser, Alugbue and junior Hilary Eppink each had 3 kills in the final set. Louisville had a .059 hitting percentage in the fourth set.
Notre Dame plays the winner of No. 2 seed Cincinnati and No. 3 seed Marquette at 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT Sunday in the title match. The Bearcats and Golden Eagle play the 4:30 p.m.ET/3:30 p.m. CT in the second semifinal match.
Quarterfinals, Friday, Nov. 18
Match 1: No. 5 Notre Dame 3, No. 4 Syracuse 1 (27-25,25-17,21-25,25-19)
Match 2: No. 1 Louisville 3, No. 8 Pittsburgh 1 (25-13,25-20,24-26,25-20)
Match 3: No. 2 Cincinnati 3, No. 7 Villanova 0 (25-11,25-14,25-16)
Match 4: No. 3 Marquette 3, No. 6 Seton Hall 0 (25-22,25-21,25-21)
Semifinals, Saturday, Nov. 19
Match 5: Notre Dame 3, Louisville 1 (25-22,22-25,25-21,25-19)
Match 6: No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 2 Cincinnati, 4:30 p.m. ET/ 3:30 p.m. CT
Championship, Sunday, Nov. 20
Match 7: Semifinal winners, 4:00 p.m. ET/ 3:00 p.m. CT (LIVE – ESPNU)