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ND Volleyball

Irish close home slate with victory

| Monday, November 23, 2015

Notre Dame closed out the home portion of its schedule with a much needed win, breaking out of a 12-match losing streak with a 3-0 victory over Clemson.

The Irish (7-23, 2-16 ACC) kicked off this weekend’s matches with a four-set loss (19-25, 26-24, 25-21, 25-22) to Georgia Tech in one of their closest matches of the season.

After getting swept in three sets by the Yellow Jackets (18-12, 9-9) in Atlanta on Oct. 11, the Irish showed some signs of progress Friday night by dominating the first set and coming close in the other three.

The Irish took the first set from Georgia Tech while hitting .351 and committing only three hitting errors to go along with 16 kills. They even had set point in the second frame before the Yellow Jackets came storming back to snatch the momentum before the break.

Sophomore setter Maddie Dilfer, left, passes the ball to freshman libero Ryann DeJarld during the 3-0 Irish loss to Pittsburgh on Nov. 8. Sarah Olson | The Observer

Sophomore setter Maddie Dilfer, center, passes the ball as freshman libero Ryann DeJarld looks on during the 3-0 Irish loss to Pittsburgh on Nov. 8.

By winning close sets three and four as well, the Yellows Jackets were able to steal one from the Irish.

Sunday afternoon, then, offered one last opportunity for the Irish to get their first home conference win of the season, and they took advantage of that opportunity.

Having already beaten Clemson in South Carolina on Oct. 9, Notre Dame already had a scouting report for what it could expect from the Tigers (6-24, 1-17) on Sunday.

The previous match between these two teams was a five-set marathon in which the Irish took the first two sets but dropped the next two before closing out the victory in the final frame.

This time around, Notre Dame only needed three sets to dispose of the Tigers on their way to a sweep, 25-17, 25-16, 25-16.

Led by sophomore outside hitter Sydney Kuhn, who had 11 kills and eight digs, the match was never really in question as the Irish led nearly every moment.

For first year head coach Jim McLaughlin, the win was first his home conference victory, but his focus is already on trying to continue a strong end to the season this week.

“Well, I want to get to more [wins],” McLaughlin said. “Every win counts; it’s a step in the right direction. It’s a building block. And these kids deserve it. Just to get that gratification and that winning feeling, and hopefully we start to get that feeling all the time.”

For a team that has struggled to put together a complete match for much of the season, McLaughlin said the strong weekend showings were due to better training and consistency.

“I thought we trained better,” McLaughlin said. “We settled down, the training was more meaningful. The girls were more mindful. We had better energy and better focus, and we just played better. We didn’t make as many errors. We were more consistent, and that was the difference.”

With the home season in the books for Notre Dame, this team now has only two matches left before the offseason begins and it can look toward next fall.

The Irish close out their season this week with a pair of road matches. They head to Syracuse for a Wednesday night matchup before wrapping the season at Boston College on Friday.

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