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ND Volleyball

Irish travel to Florida to face a pair of ACC foes

| Friday, November 13, 2015

Seeking to avoid its 10th consecutive conference loss, Notre Dame travels to the Sunshine State this weekend to take on ACC rivals No. 20 Florida State and Miami.

This will be the second time the Irish (6-20, 1-13 ACC) face the Seminoles (19-6, 12-2 ACC) in 2015, as they lost 3-0 at home on Sept. 27. Florida State currently sits in second place in the ACC standings, while Miami finds itself in fifth.

The Irish played the Seminoles close in the first two sets of the match when the Seminoles visited Purcell Pavilion in late September, with the Irish losing 25-20 and 25-21 in the first two sets, respectively. However, in the third set the Irish were unable to gain any offensive momentum like the Seminoles, who capitalized with 12 kills on 16 attempts.

Sophomore outside hitter Sydney Kuhn led the Irish with team-highs in kills (eight) and digs (nine) against Florida State the first time around. Sophomore setter Maddie Dilfer racked up 18 assists Sept. 27 against the Seminoles.

“The message is always the same. We’re pretty redundant as coaches: You hope you’re taking care of the ball better,” Irish head coach Jim McLaughlin said. “Our numbers are getting better, we’re getting better but we need to continue improving. We can still work toward that end of being a team that plays with great regularity at a high level and the wins will come.”

Coming off two tough home losses to Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh, the Irish will have to come up with an answer for the offensive efficiency of the Florida State and Miami rosters. Last time the Irish faced Florida State, the Seminoles collected 38 kills with only 15 errors. The Irish, on the other hand, balanced 29 kills against nearly as many errors (24).

Miami has been playing some of its best volleyball of the season in the last few weeks, earning back-to-back wins against the Seminoles and Virginia. The Hurricanes have also won five of their last six and 10 of their last 12 matches, only dropping road decisions to Pittsburgh and North Carolina. Sophomore outside hitter Olga Strantzali was named this week’s ACC Player of the Week for her performances against Florida State and Virginia, as she put up 23 kills on a .514 hitting percentage, while also collecting seven service aces, as well. Strantazali also was named to the preseason All-ACC team.

The Hurricanes have a very potent offensive attack, led in large part by Strantzali and senior outside hitter Taylor Scott. In its last two matches alone, Miami has put up 104 kills with just 23 errors, an efficiency that will challenge the Irish defensive front.

“Can we be in the right place at the right time given the situation? We’re starting to figure that out, and we control that,” McLaughlin said. “The girls are starting to understand that they are just situations that happen over and over and can we respond appropriately to those situations. We’re starting to get to spots a little faster and sooner than we’ve been, but we’ve missed assignments. One person out of position screws up the whole package.

“All you can ask for is a great effort level, a level of intensity every day we train. And are we improving? Yes, we have been getting better.”

Notre Dame looks to take down Florida State and Miami this weekend in the Sunshine State. The Irish play the Seminoles on Friday night in Tallahassee, Florida, before traveling to Coral Gables to take on the Hurricanes on Sunday.

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