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ND Volleyball

Irish fall twice in Florida, extending losing streak to 11

| Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Irish continued their tough season in conference play with a pair of losses over the weekend, stretching their losing streak to 11 games, though they did show some improvement in Sunday’s loss at Miami.

Notre Dame (6-22, 1-15 ACC) spent the weekend in Florida, starting with Friday’s match at No. 20 Florida State. The Irish and the Seminoles (21-6, 13-2) started the match trading point for point and working to a 13-13 tie, but Florida State pulled away in the first set and never looked back.

Freshman middle blocker Meg Morningstar stands with her teammates after a 3-0 loss to Pittsburgh at Purcell Pavilion on Nov. 8.Sarah Olson | The Observer

Freshman middle blocker Meg Morningstar, wearing No. 16, stands with her teammates after a 3-0 loss to Pittsburgh at Purcell Pavilion on Nov. 8.

After securing a 25-18 first set win, the Seminoles cruised to a 25-14 second set. The Irish came back strong from break to fight to a 9-9 tie early in the third set, but Florida State was simply too much for the young Irish, who fell 25-19 in the final frame as the Seminoles completed the three-set sweep.

Sophomore outside hitter Sam Fry again led the Irish against Florida State with seven kills and finished with a .400 attacking percentage.

Then on Sunday afternoon, Notre Dame made the trip from Tallahassee to Miami to take on the Hurricanes (18-8, 11-4), who came into the match riding an 11-1 record at home this year. With a 3-1 victory over Notre Dame, they secured their twelfth home victory of the season.

However, for a team in the midst of an extended losing streak, the Irish were able to hold their own against a solid Miami team. Though Miami dominated the first set, the Irish were able to take the second set and tie the match at one. Notre Dame closed out the second frame by scoring 10 of the last 14 points and limited the errors that have plagued them all year.

The Irish struggled to keep the momentum they gained in the second set and ultimately dropped the next to on the way to yet another conference loss.

Much of the Irish success in the match as a whole can be attributed to freshman middle blocker Meg Morningstar, who turned in the statistically strongest match of her brief ACC career with six blocks and eight kills for a .727 attack percentage.

Morningstar recognizes what even the smallest improvements can mean for a team that is looking to the future with hope, she said.

“I think that moving forward, it’s always good to be making individual improvements and as a team we’re beginning to take steps forward,” Morningstar said. “We’re making strides in practice and in matches and it’s good to see for us.”

Though this season has been a long one for a team dominated by underclassmen, Morningstar said that the future is bright for the team as they get used to first-year head coach Jim McLaughlin’s system.

“It’s all about improving and trying to put together games and points the way we’re supposed to,” Morningstar said. “A big part of it is getting more consistent, and moving into next year the new system will be a bigger part of us.

“With not many upperclassmen, it’s hard to come into a brand new system. I think that we’re getting much more familiar with the system and that will be something we can build on heading into next year.”

The Irish have just four matches left on their schedule with the final two coming next weekend. Notre Dame has a couple more chances to break its losing streak before turning to next season, starting with Georgia Tech (17-11, 8-8) on Friday night. They then close out their home schedule against the only team they’ve beaten in conference play this season as Clemson (6-22, 1-15) comes to Purcell Pavilion on Sunday.

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