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ND Volleyball: Notre Dame takes on conference-foe Terps

Katie Heit | Friday, November 1, 2013

With half a season completed and only two ACC wins under their belt, the Irish will look to turn their luck around today when they take on Maryland at 4 p.m. in Purcell Pavilion.
The Irish (8-13, 2-8 ACC) dropped their first five ACC matches, four by at least a two-set margin. It wasn’t until they took on Georgia Tech on Oct. 12 that they were able to get their offense moving, shutting out the Yellow Jackets. The Irish carried that momentum against Miami the following weekend, taking a 3-1 victory.
The Irish enter tonight on a three-match losing streak as they try to find their place in the ACC. Irish coach Debbie Brown said she thinks Maryland is another tough competitor from a stacked ACC lineup.
“We have a really strong conference,” Brown said. “There’s matches [Maryland has] played really well and matches where they’ve struggled. They played Pitt [on Wednesday in a 3-1 win] and played a very good match so I think it will be very tough.”
Leading the Terrapins (12-11, 4-7) is junior outside hitter Ashleigh Crutcher, who had a strong performance against the Panthers.
“Ashleigh Crutcher had 24 kills and hit over .450, which is phenomenal,” Brown said. “She was a one-woman show and really carried a huge offensive load. She had 24 kills and the next player had seven. We can’t allow her or any other player to go out and have that many kills.”
Crutcher provided half of Maryland’s 48 kills. In addition, she had 10 digs and hit .467. In Notre Dame’s last matchup, junior outside hitter Toni Alugbue and junior middle blocker Jeni Houser led the Irish with 11 kills apiece.
Brown said her team has struggled because it has not consistently produced kills from game to game.
“We’ve been working on our offense and our shots,” Brown said “We need to make smarter kills and we’ve practiced directing the ball to certain spots.”
With the losses, Brown said she’s been telling her team to focus only on the point at hand, not the struggles from the past, in order to get a win.
“I think it’s one of those things where you have to take it a point at a time,” Brown said. “If you do that, good things will happen and you’ll be thinking about the right things at the right time.”
The Irish take on ACC opponent Maryland this afternoon at 4 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.

Contact Katie Heit at kheit@nd.edu