Volleyball: Irish rally back against Virginia Tech
Katie Heit | Wednesday, November 20, 2013
After dropping the first set, the Irish rallied to defeat Virginia Tech 3-1 Thursday to win their sixth conference match of the season.
In the first set, the Irish (12-16, 6-11 ACC) struggled against the Hokies (21-10, 9-8). Down 21-17, Notre Dame was able to cut Virginia Tech’s lead to two points, but with the game at 21-19, the Hokies took four of the next five points and closed out the game 25-20.
“Between games one and two we talked specifically about our blocking defense,” Irish coach Debbie Brown said. “We weren’t able to score any points on our serve and we knew we had to do that better so really in game two we kind of flip flopped and we did much better and slowed them down a little bit.”
Freshman middle blocker Simmone Collins said the Irish struggled against Virginia Tech’s outside hitters in the first set.
“They have really powerful outsides,” Collins said. “I think they tooled us a couple of times out there so we had to get our heads right and make sure we keyed in on what we needed to do. Our coaches were on us, telling us what shots we needed to hit, who to commit on in the block and I think that really helped we just got it together when we needed to.”
The Hokies and the Irish went back and forth in the second set. Though there were only two lead changes, the Irish were never more than three points ahead of Virginia Tech until the set was at 21-17. Despite eight ties, the Irish battled through and took the final two points on a service error and missed ball by the Hokies, winning the set 25-21.
The two teams spent most of the third set within one point of one another. The Hokies took the biggest lead of the set at 23-20 then scored once more to get themselves to set point.
Four straight points from the Irish turned the tide and knotted the game at 24. The Hokies managed to pull ahead once more, but Notre Dame tied the game at 25 and went up 26-25 on the next point. An error by the Hokies gave the Irish the win. The game had 13 ties and three lead changes.
Brown said the win in the third set gave the Irish the drive they needed to close out the game.
“Going into the break at 1-1 after dropping the first set is huge,” Brown said. “Obviously the key to the match, the turning point, was coming back and winning that third [set] when we were down 24-21. That’s a hard run to have and to come back and get that. That momentum we kept going into game four. You could see the look in the players eyes that we were going to win, that it was happening.”
The Irish controlled most of the final set. Tied at four, Notre Dame pulled ahead and never looked back. Down by seven with the game at 19-12, Virginia Tech fought back and managed to bring the game within two at 22-20. Both teams were able to score two more times before a kill by junior outside hitter Toni Alugbue gave the Irish the 25-22 win and the victory.
Collins had one of her best games of her college career, notching six kills, and said the passing game was key to her success on offense.
“We’ve been practicing the connection between me and [senior setter Maggie Brindock] a lot,” Collins said. “The passing was phenomenal and without that I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did for my teammates tonight so I owe it all to the passers.”
Brindock had 42 assists in the game, making her the seventh player in Notre Dame history to reach 3, 000 assists in their career.
“That’s a great milestone for her and I thought she had a very good match tonight,” Brown said.
Coming off of the win, the Irish have a quick turnaround before taking on Virginia on Friday at 4:30 p.m. in Purcell Pavilion.
Contact Katie Heit at firstname.lastname@example.org