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    Wildcats Battle Irish, Fall Just Short in NCAA Second Round, 3-0

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Junior Julie Purcell hit .371 with 16 kills Friday night in the NCAA Tournament's second round.
    Junior Julie Purcell hit .371 with 16 kills Friday night in the NCAA Tournament's second round.

    Dec. 2, 2005

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    SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The Big Ten's No. 6 team Northwestern took the NCAA Tournament's No. 6 seed Notre Dame to the brink in all three games on the Irish's home court in the Dance's second round Friday night, but eventually fell to the Big East champions by just a combined seven points, 30-27, 32-30, 30-28.

    With the loss, Northwestern concludes its season with a 20-12 record, its best mark since 1988. Notre Dame advances to the Round of 16 with a 30-3 mark.

    "I am very, very proud of how our girls played and battled tonight," NU head coach Keylor Chan said. "Notre Dame played an outstanding match and we came up just seven points short in the end. I'm proud of how our seniors performed, especially. They will be greatly missed by this program."

    In their final matches, seniors Christie Gardner (West Bend, Wis./West Bend East) and Lizzie Carlson (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto) both hit double-digits in digs. Gardner -- NU's match, season and career dig leader -- had a team-best 19 while Carlson added 12.

    Game one began close, until a 5-1 Notre Dame run with the score 10-9 in favor of the Irish gave the host squad a 15-10 lead going into the first media timeout of the match.

    Northwestern mounted a 7-2 run out of the break, knotting the score, 17-17, and forcing Notre Dame to use a timeout. An ace by junior Lauren Greenwood (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood) three points later gave NU the lead, 19-18.



    The teams traded points until a little Irish spurt gave ND a 26-23 lead and caused a Northwestern timeout. The Wildcats scored three of the next four points to pull back to within one, 27-26, and force the Irish's second timeout of the game. The third point of that sequence came on an ace from sophomore Stephanie Jurivich (LaGrange, Ill./St. Ignatius), who had just one ace during the entire regular season.

    Notre Dame responded a 3-1 run of its own to claim game one, 30-27.

    The Irish opened game two with the advantage until the Wildcats reeled them in to tie the score, 12-12. The teams continued to trade point after point after point, until Notre Dame took a two-point lead, 19-17. The Wildcats battled back to even again, 23-23.

    Northwestern claimed its first lead of the game on an ND hitting error, 26-25, and the Irish called timeout. Notre Dame then notched the next two points, regaining the lead, 27-26, after a marathon point that ended when an Irish hit caught the net and dribbled off just out of the reach of the Wildcats.

    Notre Dame earned two game points, 29-27, but kills from sophomore Lindsay Anderson (Wilmette, Ill./New Trier) and junior Julie Purcell (Louisville, Ky./Assumption) knotted the score, 29-29. The Irish scored the next point before Jurivich annihilated an overpass to tie the score again, 30-30.

    Notre Dame scored the next two points to end game two, 32-30, and claim a 2-0 lead in the match.

    Northwestern came out firing in game three, taking its biggest lead of the match at three points, 7-4. The Irish called timeout, then marched right back to tie the score, 7-7.

    After the Wildcats built their lead back to two, 10-8, the Irish reeled off five-consecutive points to take a 13-10 lead and force a Northwestern timeout. Notre Dame eventually led by as many as eight, 18-10.

    Staring elimination in the face, the Wildcats did not fold. NU mounted an 8-3 run to pull back within three, 21-18, after Greenwood's second ace of the match.

    Notre Dame pushed back out to a five-point lead, 25-20, but again the 'Cats cut it to three, 25-22. Northwestern continued to battle, and a Carlson ace brought NU to within one, 26-25. The Wildcats clawed to the end, but could not complete the comeback, falling 30-28 in the final game.

    Anderson led the 'Cats with a match-high 18 kills, while Purcell finished with 16 and a team-high .371 hitting percentage (16-3-35).

    Greenwood recorded her a double-double with 18 assists, 13 digs and a pair of service aces.