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ND Volleyball: ‘Canes, ‘Noles sweep ND

Conor Kelly | Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Notre Dame concluded the away portion of its ACC schedule this weekend with a visit to the Sunshine State, falling to Miami on Friday night and No. 22 Florida State on Sunday afternoon. The Irish (11-16, 5-11 ACC) earned their first ACC home win over Miami back on Oct. 18 but found the going tougher in Coral Gables. The Hurricanes (16-10, 9-7) dropped the Irish in straight sets (25-20, 25-14, 25-22).
“When we got them at home we were much more comfortable,” Irish coach Debbie Brown said. “You have to put pressure on a team in volleyball, get them to make mistakes, and that’s not something we were able to do.”
Much of Notre Dame’s problems stemmed from an inability to control Miami’s powerful attack, Brown said. Junior outside hitter Savannah Leaf led the Hurricanes with 17 kills, and two other teammates reached double digits as the hosts racked up a .357 hitting percentage.
“We really didn’t have answers on the defensive end,” Brown said. “They got off to a great start and never really let up.”
Offensively, the Irish were led by junior outside hitter Jeni Houser, who knocked home 11 kills, senior hitter Nicole Smith with six and senior setter Maggie Brindock with four. As has been the case for much of the season, Brown said that her team’s problems lay in not producing a sufficient volume of kills on offense.
“Even though we had some good hitting percentages, we’re still not generating enough kills,” Brown said. “We’re not being terminal.”
On Sunday, the Irish fell in straight sets to the Seminoles (13-3, 20-7), recovering slightly after being trounced 25-13 in the first game. Florida State took the second and third sets by scores of 25-21.
“We tried running a 6-2 offense in the first set and just got stuck in a rotation,” Brown said. “Then the rest of the match was quite competitive, and we were ahead for a lot of game two.”
Once again, the Irish struggled offensively, hitting just .167 on the match. Smith and junior outside hitter Meg Vonderhaar led Notre Dame with nine and eight kills respectively.
Despite the two losses, Brown said that her team’s mentality has remained unaffected.
“The character that the team has shown has been very positive,” Brown said. “We got beat badly in that first game and then came out with much more resolve in the last two.”
The losses leave the Irish in 12th place in the ACC, ten games behind Duke and out of contention for the conference crown. The NCAA tournament is also out of reach for the Irish, who currently sit 97th nationally in RPI. Still, Brown said that her team will remain motivated heading into its last four games, all at home.
“Our focus now is on doing what’s best for the team, not necessarily what’s best for the individual,” Brown said. “That continues to be our emphasis. We’re playing to win, and whoever’s called upon is going to play.”
The Irish next take the court against Virginia Tech on Wednesday at 7p.m., at Purcell Pavilion.
Contact Conor kelly at ckelly17@nd.edu