Notre Dame to open ACC home stand against Virginia Tech, UVA
Darcy Dehais | Thursday, November 9, 2017
Notre Dame hosts ACC opponents Virginia Tech and Virginia this weekend, looking to record conference wins as they head into their last stretch of home games for the regular season.
The Irish (17-8, 7-7 ACC) are coming off a loss to Duke and a win against Wake Forest on the road. Against the Blue Devils (16-10, 8-7 ACC), Notre Dame won the first set and lost the next three, dropping the match 3-1.
Head coach Jim McLaughlin said his team has room for improvement, particularly in minimizing errors on the court.
“There’s a lot to learn,” McLaughlin said. “When we play clean volleyball and control our unforced errors that have nothing to do with the opponent, we’re really good. Our girls are beginning to know that and understand it, and they’re beginning to do it. The knowing is the easy part, and the doing is the hard part. You have to do things, but first you have to know things.”
Against Wake Forest, senior outside hitter Sydney Kuhn tied her career high with 20 kills in the match. She also tied her season high for digs with 17 and recorded a hitting percentage of .304.
McLaughlin said the senior’s contributions to the team’s play this season have been critical to its overall success.
“It’s hard to put that into words, but her impact is significant,” he said. “Before the Wake Forest match, my assistant [gave me] the numbers. [Kuhn] was getting better the last three weeks, and so we changed the lineup a little bit just based on these numbers and her improvement, and she played well.”
“Everything they learn in this gym when we’re practicing happens in the game — emotionally, mentally, physically,” McLaughlin said. “Everything that happens in practice happens in the match, and Syd’s been a good example of that. We just need more kids doing the things that they do in practice.”
Back in the beginning of October, the Irish beat both the Cavaliers (7-18, 3-11 ACC) and the Hokies (9-16, 3-11 ACC) on the road by a score of 3-1.
Looking to repeat their success this time around, McLaughlin said the Irish have focused on accurate passing and serving in practice this week.
“We’ve really put an emphasis on our serve and pass and just getting in really good swings,” he said. “Regardless of whether they dig it or not, it’s understanding what a good swing is, being in rhythm, having good mechanics and striking the ball the right way to get it to go where we want it to go. We did a better job of that, but we’ll continue to work on that until the end.”
Notre Dame has just six matches left in the regular season, with the next four being at home. McLaughlin said the home advantage is helpful when it comes to preparing for matches.
“It’s good to be home for a number of reasons,” he said. “[We] play in front of our crowd, and we don’t have to travel.”
While they are not overlooking the last matches of the regular season, McLaughlin said the Irish have their postseason goals on their mind.
“The biggest thing is all the stuff we talked about early in the season,” he said. “Making the tournament is still in front of us, and we still have to approach it the right way and go one match at a time. It’s right there, and I think our girls understand that and know that. I think they know what they have to do, and we just have to go like we’ve been going all year. We have to go one match at a time and keep getting better in practice, and we have a chance.”
The Irish take on Virginia Tech on Friday at 7 p.m. and Virginia on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both matches will take place at Purcell Pavilion.