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Volleyball: Wake Forest battles back to down struggling ND

Conor Kelly | Sunday, October 6, 2013

Heading into Friday’s match against Wake Forest at Purcell Pavilion, Notre Dame’s transition to the ACC had not gone smoothly. Unfortunately for the Irish, their fortunes did not improve against the Demon Deacons. Despite winning the first two sets, the Irish fell victim to a comeback from Wake Forest, falling in five sets. The loss is the sixth in a row for Notre Dame (6-9, 0-4 ACC).
“It’s very rough, and you can’t really avoid frustration and disappointment,” Irish coach Debbie Brown said. “We’re just not in a good rhythm right now.”
The Irish jumped out to a lead by relying on strong team defense in the match’s first two sets, registering 47 digs and 9.5 blocks in the opening two frames. In a defensive struggle, however, the Irish failed to convert efficiently on offense, hitting just .154 on the evening.
Wake Forest (12-4, 1-3 ACC) recovered and seized control of the third set early, winning 25-19 before taking the final two by scores of 25-20 and 15-11. For Brown, the outcome was due both to a letdown by her squad and impressive play by the Demon Deacons.
“I think it was a combination of the two,” Brown said. “The first two games really weren’t great volleyball. Statistically, it was high-error on both sides. We knew going into the third set that we had to pay better, and we just didn’t.”
Junior outside hitter Toni Alugbue led the Irish offensively with 21 kills while senior middle blocker Andie Olsen chipped in 12. Senior setter Maggie Brindock contributed a career-high 21 digs.
Brown said her team’s troubles came from an inability to convert on offense.
“Our biggest thing is that we’re not generating kills,” Brown said. “We’re getting dug a lot, the frustration of which leads us to taking swings that we probably shouldn’t take which leads to errors. It’s a reflection of both the passing and the hitting. It’s been a little bit of everything. We have to be a little smarter.”
While the offense struggled on Friday against Wake Forest, there has not been one specific aspect of play that has consistently thwarted the Irish during their recent run of poor form, Brown said.
“There’s not one area from game to game that we feel is hindering us,” Brown said. “We played much better defense today but didn’t get the kills to go with it. Sometimes it goes the other way around.”
Notre Dame’s victory over Auburn on Sept. 14 in similar fashion, with the Irish taking the match’s final three sets to overcome a 2-0 deficit. To be on the other side of the result, however, is trying for both the coaching staff and the players.
“As a team, things haven’t gone real well recently,” Brown said. “We just have to believe that it’s all going to turn around soon.”
The Irish next hit the court on Friday when they seek their first conference win at Clemson.
Contact Conor Kelly at