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ND Volleyball

Irish turn focus towards Boston College

| Friday, October 2, 2015

After starting off ACC play by getting swept in back-to-back losses to Louisville and No. 17 Florida State, the Irish return to action this weekend with home matches against Boston College and Syracuse.

The focus of the week leading up to Boston College has been on honing in on the team’s process, according to Irish associate head coach Mike Johnson.

“We’re going to get better every week, stay process driven, and continue to improve,” Johnson said. “For us, it’s about holding course.”

The Orange (11-2, 2-0 ACC) and the Eagles (8-6, 0-2 ACC) have already squared off against each other in their opening ACC matches, with Syracuse downing Boston College, 3-1.

The Irish (5-9, 0-2 ACC) first take on the Eagles on Friday evening, looking to draw even with their 2014 win count with a victory at home. The Eagles’ most serious threat to the Irish is senior outside hitter Katty Workman, who set a program-record 23 kills in Boston College’s five-set loss to Georgia Tech on Sept. 27. Workman also recently broke the school’s career record for kills.

“We have to get on her tendencies and understand them,” Johnson said. “We have to identify her most prominent tendencies, take that away and force her to do something differently, and when she does that we have to adjust.”

The Irish are coming off two tough losses marked by a struggling offense and costly unforced attack errors. The Seminoles on Sunday held the Irish to just a .136 attack average while forcing four errors in the first set alone. Johnson said he stressed the importance of process to this Irish team in their success going forward.

“If we do as well as we can, the wins will come,” Johnson said. “If our efforts are right and we move the right way, our results tend to fall in line.”

Irish sophomore outside hitter Sam Fry winds up for a serve during Notre Dame’s 3-1 victory over Mississippi State on Sept. 11.Sarah Olson | The Observer

Irish sophomore outside hitter Sam Fry winds up for a serve during Notre Dame’s 3-1 victory over Mississippi State on Sept. 11.

Sophomore outside hitter Sam Fry is the engine for the Irish offense, and already has 167 kills on the season with an average of 3.15 kills per set. Her offensive efficiency will be tested against the Eagles and the Orange, who average 2.1 and 3.0 blocks per set, respectively. Johnson attributes Fry’s success to the visibility she has at the net and her ability to maneuver around blockers.

“The thing she does very well is she can hit with range, and she can adjust to different kinds of different sets,” Johnson said. “But once they send blockers to Sam, that opens up other people up.”

This was evident against Florida State, as fellow sophomore outside hitter Sydney Kuhn led the Irish with eight kills while Fry was held to six.

Ultimately, fundamentals are the keys to success for the Irish this weekend, Johnson said.

“Controlling the serve and pass game is always first,” Johnson said. “Are we serving well enough to get our opponents out of system, and are we receiving well enough to get ourselves in system?

“The second one is getting in a rhythm offensively, our hitters being where they should be when they should be and our setter delivering the ball. And the third is defensively being in the right place at the right time based on what we’re seeing.”

The Irish seek their first ACC victory of the season as they take on Boston College at 7 p.m. Friday and Syracuse at 12 p.m. Sunday at Purcell Pavilion.

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