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Volleyball: ND wins pair in homestand

Katie Heit | Monday, November 4, 2013

The Irish swept their home series over the weekend, defeating Maryland 3-1 on Friday and battling Pitt in five sets Sunday before snatching a 3-2 victory.
Against Maryland (12-12, 4-8 ACC), the Irish (10-13, 4-8) took control offensively. Notre Dame had 54 kills and had four players with 10 or more kills apiece.
The Irish battled with the Terrapins in the first set, but weren’t able to secure the victory and fell 25-21. In the second set, Notre Dame led until the score was 22-21, but fell behind 24-23. An error by the Terrapins allowed the Irish to tie the score at 24 and closed out the set with a 27-25 victory. Their momentum carried through to the third set, as the Irish pulled ahead early and never looked back, winning 25-21 and bringing the score to 2-1.
To close out the match, the Irish battled with the Terrapins through 13 ties and five lead changes before finally winning the set 25-23 and claiming the 3-1 victory.
Against Pitt (12-13, 4-8), the Irish had another long battle. Notre Dame fell behind early in the first set, scoring only 13 points against the Panthers and dropping the set 25-13. In the second set, the Irish tied the game at one, battling through two lead changes and five ties for a 25-22 win.
The Irish fell behind once more in the third set, leading the game only once before Pitt took over, winning the game handily at 25-17.
The Irish were not able to turn their luck around until the fourth set. Irish senior outside hitter Nicole Smith said the fourth set was a turning point for the Irish.
“We really came together in the fourth set,” Smith said. “We knew that we had to win it. We fought really well together and we were having a lot of fun.”
The fourth set consisted of 17 ties and five lead changes, but Notre Dame endured and won the set 25-22 to tie the score at two.
In the final set, the Irish buckled down and took control early on, never relinquishing the lead and winning the final set 15-9.
“I thought the fifth set we were all very focused,” Smith said. “I have a lot of confidence in my teammates and we started the fifth set really strong.”
Smith recorded 12 kills during the game and a team-high four blocks. She said her success and the success of her teammates was due to senior setter Maggie Brindock.
“Maggie was making extremely good decisions with her sets,” Smith said. “The passers really stepped up to get her the ball and it made it really easy for us to get kills.”
Smith said much of the Irish success also depended on Notre Dame’s ability to stop the Pitt hitters.
“They had some really good hitters on each end,” Smith said. “We were getting stuck when they were hitting and their outsides were attacking quickly. Our defense did really well in adjusting and picking up the sets.”
The Irish are back in action on Wednesday when they travel to Syracuse for another conference match.
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