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ND Volleyball

Notre Dame slips up in conference tilt with Louisville

| Thursday, November 10, 2016

Notre Dame was downed by Louisville, 3-1, Wednesday night in an attempt to bounce back from a loss to Duke over the weekend.

The Irish (19-8, 10-5 ACC) jumped out to a strong start, snatching the first set by a three-point margin, 25-22. Notre Dame led for much of the set but was never able to fully pull away from the Cardinals (9-16, 4-11), who continued to claw their way back at Notre Dame’s leads. Sophomore outside hitter Rebecca Nunge, junior outside hitter Sydney Kuhn and junior middle blocker Sam Fry led the Irish offensively in the set with three kills each.

Irish junior middle blocker Sam Fry, left, and sophomore outside hitter Rebecca Nunge go up for a block during Notre Dame's 3-1 win over Duke on Sept. 30 at Purcell Pavilion.Wei Cao | The Observer

Irish junior middle blocker Sam Fry, left, and sophomore outside hitter Rebecca Nunge go up for a block during Notre Dame’s 3-1 win over Duke on Sept. 30 at Purcell Pavilion.

Although the Irish have two of the top servers in the ACC in sophomore libero Ryann DeJarld and Fry, they were plagued with service errors throughout the match, accumulating a total of eight in the game.

Louisville charged ahead in the second set, taking a 16-8 lead. The Irish struggled to handle the Cardinals’ attacks and continued to make critical errors. Notre Dame tallied seven attack errors in the second set, handing Louisville a significant number of free points and adding to its lead. The Irish got back into their groove later in the set and were able to cut into Louisville’s lead slightly, but the Cardinals maintained the lead and took the set, 25-21.

From there, Louisville never looked back. While the Irish were able to keep pace with the Cardinals throughout the rest of the match, they continued to be plagued by service and attack errors, tallying eight and 27, respectively, by the end of the match.

Freshman outside hitter Jemma Yeadon led the way offensively for the Irish, picking up 12 kills, and was closely followed by 10 kills from Nunge, nine from Kuhn and seven from Fry. Senior middle blocker Katie Higgins maintained the highest hitting percentage for the Irish, hitting .556, and she also picked up four blocks.

Louisville took the third set 25-20 to give it a 2-1 lead in the match and finished the Irish off in four, holding onto a 25-22 lead in the final set despite Notre Dame’s rally in the hitting percentage category.

Notre Dame’s inconsistency at the setter position continued to be a topic of conversation during Wednesday’s match. Junior setter Taylor Zwickl returned from injury over the weekend, joining freshman setter Hanna Klein as the team’s primary setters. Zwickl’s return allowed Nunge, who had been filling in as a setter, to return to and fully focus on her principal role as an outside hitter. Irish head coach Jim McLaughlin noted Monday that he was excited by the fact Nunge would be able to concentrate on blocking and hitting with Zwickl back in the lineup.

However, Nunge and Zwickl took the court as the starting setters in Notre Dame’s 6-2 offense. Klein did not make an appearance until deep in the second set when the Cardinals led by seven. Klein exited the game after one point.

Looking forward, the Irish will look to pick up their 20th win Sunday against Virginia after a shorter-than-normal recovery period. On Monday, McLaughlin said he felt his team would be ready to go Sunday and not let the short week affect their level of play.

“These girls are pretty resilient, and we’ve done a pretty good job of reducing the volume a little bit, so I think their legs are good,” McLaughlin said. “Everybody’s gotta go through that, so I don’t think that’s gonna affect them that much.”

The Irish will look to snap their losing streak against the Cavaliers (5-21, 2-12) Sunday at 1 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.

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About Elizabeth Greason

Elizabeth is a junior studying civil engineering from New York, NY (yes, the actual city). She is a proud resident of McGlinn Hall and is a die-hard Mets and Giants fan. She is the current Sports Editor of The Observer and she also has an obsession with golf that is bordering on unhealthy.

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