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ND Volleyball

After first ACC win, Notre Dame hits the road for weekend set

| Thursday, October 5, 2017

Notre Dame will hit the road for two conference games this weekend, as the Irish (11-4, 1-3 ACC) will face Virginia on Friday and Virginia Tech on Sunday.

After snapping a three-game losing streak in the ACC by beating No. 21 Florida State at home in a five-match set this past Sunday, the Irish will try to maintain the momentum to get back to .500 in the conference.

Irish junior middle blocker Meg Morningstar goes up to block during Notre Dame’s 3-0 win over MSU on Sept. 15 at Purcell Pavilion. Morningstar, along with four other players, had three or more blocks. Michelle Mehelas | The Observer

Irish junior middle blocker Meg Morningstar goes up to block during Notre Dame’s 3-0 win over MSU on Sept. 15 at Purcell Pavilion. Morningstar, along with four other players, had three or more blocks.

Notre Dame head coach Jim McLaughlin said while they are just beginning the process of scouting their opponents, the team will primarily focus on playing their game and continuing to improve on both sides of the ball.

“We’re just starting the reports on them and figuring out their tendencies and percentages, but most of it is being good on our side of the net and improving in the areas we need to improve in,” McLaughlin said. “That’s the most important thing. We’ll have some percentages about what they like to do, and we’ll try to take those away, but it’s all part of our system. We will keep getting better at what we’re doing.”

On an individual level, McLaughlin praised Irish junior outside hitter Rebecca Nunge, senior middle blocker Sam Fry and junior middle blocker Meg Morningstar for their performances in the last several games. Against the Seminoles (8-4, 2-2), both Fry and Nunge had 10 kills, while Morningstar led the team with 11 blocks, tying her career-high.

McLaughlin said these players were influential to the things Notre Dame did successfully last weekend. 

“They had good discipline and good eye work,” McLaughlin said. “They were in good spots and stayed focused on the things that tell them what to do. We’re starting to meet some standards individually.”

The Irish have struggled on the road this season, with three of their four losses coming away from Purcell Pavilion. Earlier this season, Notre Dame lost at Ohio State, at Louisville and at North Carolina State.

McLaughlin said that the key to being successful on this road trip will be staying focused offensively.

“We have to win the serve and pass and have good composure as attackers,” McLaughlin said. “We have to be aggressive as we hit the court and hit our shots. [Senior setter Caroline] Holt’s got to be able to move the ball around a bit and keep them off balance.

“[We are focusing on] making sure our rhythm is good, getting good swings, hitting good targets and taking care of the ball. We are trying to keep the game in front of us with our serve and pass. There’s no magic — it’s just getting better at what we do.”

In addition to offensive rhythm, McLaughlin emphasized the importance of discipline and mental toughness when facing opponents on the road.

“We have to learn how to prepare to go on the road and make it a business trip,” he said. “We have to prepare emotionally to win two tough matches. Last time I don’t think we were collectively prepared. That could be part of what we did as coaches, but I think we were more worried about making the traveling team than winning matches. I think we’ll be better this week.”

The Irish take on Virginia at 7 p.m. on Friday in Charlottesville at Memorial Gymnasium followed by a matchup against Virginia Tech at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg on Sunday at noon.

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