Club Sports: Men’s Volleyball grounds Air Force
Special to The Observer | Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The Irish won in a best-of-five match against Air Force on Friday at Rolf’s Sports Recreation Center.
Notre Dame took a one-set lead after a solid performance in its first set of the year, winning 25-20. Air Force, led by a high-flying right side, came back to take the second set 25-22.
In the pivotal third set, both teams gave it all they could and went into extra points. Senior captain Joshua Rehberg served the final point and the Irish ended up winning, 32-30. The Irish went on to win the last set, 25-19, and take the match. Key players for the Irish were the two All-American hitters, senior Kevin Padden and junior Rob Bauer. Padden made the switch back to outside hitter this year after playing right side all last year. He is returning to his true form with the dominant hitting performance he showed against the Falcons.
The Irish were national runner-up last year, and finished the season ranked second. The club is intent on taking the final step this year to the national championship.
The stage was set. In only their third match-up between two historic programs, the Irish were ready to face Air Force in the first night game in the history of the program.
With the stands filled with eager fans, the Irish wasted no time at the start of the match and took an early lead. However, Notre Dame was unable to maintain it for the win and Air Force came away with a 19-17 victory.
Helped by a few line breaks at the start of the match, the Irish found themselves within the Falcons 10-meter line. The ball got to flyhalf Byron Henry, who broke a tackle and scored under the posts. Henry then converted the score, and the Irish were up 7–0.
The two teams battled for position, and the Irish were banging on the Falcons’ door, however a costly turnover prevented them from scoring. Luckily, the Irish won the opposition’s scrum, and the ball was kicked out to outside center Ryan Mitchell who reversed field and dove into the try zone. A missed conversion left the Irish with a 12-7 lead at halftime.
The score was 17-7 in Notre Dame’s favor, however, the Falcons did not give up. They continued to put together attacks, and managed to drive into the Irish 10-meter line. There they powered their way over the line to put them within one score. They converted that try to bring the score to 17–14.
As the two teams jockeyed for position in the closing moments of the game, Air Force continued to pressure the Irish. Deep in their own territory, the Irish made goal line stand after goal line stand and held off the Falcons. But as time ticked away and play continued, a Falcon forward picked the loose ball off a ruck and managed to dive into the corner of the try zone.
Air Force won the match, 19-17.
Notre Dame and Indiana went head-to-head Sunday in the women’s second league game of the season and the Irish dominated their opponent on their home field for a 25-10 win.
The Hoosiers received the ball to start, but the Irish launched forward and were able to gain possession on the ball as the Hoosiers struggled to field it. After a few phases, the Irish were successfully able to create an imbalance in the Hoosier defense.
The ball was passed out to outside center Ashley Okonta, who ran the ball in for a try. Sophomore Amelia Vojt made the conversion kick, putting the Irish at an early 7-0 lead.
The Irish continued to use their backline to challenge Indiana’s defense, leading to another try by fullback Natalie Branch. Vojt again kicked to convert the try but missed, bringing the halftime score to 18-0. In the second half, the Hoosiers were more successful. The team took advantage of offensive overloads created to get past Irish defense, and scored twice. The Irish also scored again in the second half with a dive into the try zone by flyhalf Kayla Bishop. Indiana was unsuccessful in converting their tries, while Vojt made the conversion kick for the Irish, bringing the final score to 25-10.
The Irish are ready to take their momentum with them as they travel to Columbus, Ohio to challenge Ohio State Sunday.
On Sunday morning, Notre Dame took to the waters of the Rock River in Rockford, Ill. for the Head of the Rock Regatta and demonstrated its depth against other top Midwest teams.
To kick off the morning, the Irish sent out a pair, Garrett Campbell and Tim Parks, who rowed to a fourth-place finish in the Open 2-event, finishing the 5K race in 18 minutes and 11 seconds. Irish coach Kurt Butler then rowed his single to a fifth place finish in the Master’s Single event.
The Irish eights took second, eighth, eleventh and twelfth out of 21 boats in the Novice 8+ event, with only Michigan finishing ahead of the top novice boat. Each of the other novice boats outclassed their respective competition.
Then came the Notre Dame Collegiate Fours. The Irish took fourth, seventh and 13th out of 25 boats in this event, again demonstrating a tremendous level of depth. Soon after the lightweight four came three Irish doubles, which took second, sixth, and seventh in their event, the Open 2x.
The afternoon brought the Notre Dame Varsity Eights to the water. The Irish Varsity Eight finished in second place in the Collegiate 8+ event, with the Second Varsity Eight finishing in eighth and the Third Varsity Eight finishing in ninth. The second place finish represents the top finish for the Irish at the Head of the Rock Regatta, matching last year’s Varsity Eight.
Two novice eights were sent out for their second race of the day in the Collegiate 8+ event, rowing to 14th and 22nd place finishes.
The Irish now will return to training, working on their top-end speed for two weeks in preparation for the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston on Oct. 22-23.