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ND Volleyball: Irish fall to two top-five teams, beat St. Louis

Conor Kelly | Monday, August 27, 2012

While the Irish showed they could compete on the court this weekend, they also demonstrated they have a long way to go until they can beat the nation’s best. Notre Dame fell to top-ranked UCLA and No. 4 Nebraska on Friday and Sunday respectively, while defeating Saint Louis on Saturday. 

Though Notre Dame (1-2) turned in a pair of gritty performances against the Bruins (1-1) and the Cornhuskers (3-0), Irish coach Debbie Brown said the team was not satisfied with the final results.

“I think it was a good learning experience for us,” Brown said. “We always want to learn and get better, but we won’t be satisfied with the result. We would have liked to win at least one of those matches, for sure.”

The Irish fell to the No. 1-ranked Bruins on Friday by a score of 3-1 (25-17, 18-25, 25-23, 25-19), having no answer for UCLA All-American outside Rachael Kidder’s 18 kills. The senior outside hitter was dominant but was nearly matched by the play of Irish sophomore outside hitter Jeni Houser, whose 17 kills paced the Irish.

“Jeni was phenomenal against UCLA,” Brown said. “To record 17 kills, going against two returning All-Americans, is very impressive.”

On Saturday, Notre Dame defeated Saint Louis (0-2) in straight sets (25-19, 25-20, 25-17) behind the offensive play of Houser and fellow sophomore outside hitter Toni Alugbue, whose 11 kills led the Irish. Freshman libero Taylor Morey, playing in just her second collegiate match, recorded 12 digs.

On Sunday, the Irish fell in straight sets (25-19, 25-21, 25-13) to a determined Nebraska squad. Alugbue again led the Irish on offense, notching 12 kills and hitting .310 against the Cornhuskers’ vaunted front line.

Though the Irish sported periods of inspired team and individual play throughout the weekend, the team was hampered by mistakes and sloppy play at times, which Brown attributed to the team “not having put it all together.”

“At this point in the season, there were too many errors for us to put together a championship performance like was needed to beat UCLA or Nebraska,” Brown said. “We had a number of really strong individual performances, but what I love about this team is that nobody really cares about that at all. We just want to win as a team, and I’m confident that it will be put together soon.”

The Irish return to the court this weekend at home for the Shamrock Invitational.

Contact Conor Kelly at ckelly17@nd.edu