ND pursuing first win at Shamrock Invitational
Henry Hilliard | Thursday, September 11, 2014
Notre Dame continues to seek their first win on the 2014 campaign as the Irish welcome three teams to Purcell Pavilion this weekend for the Shamrock Invitational. The Irish (0-5) host TCU on Friday, Northeastern on Saturday morning and Northern Iowa on Saturday night.After three losses in last week’s Golden Dome Invitational, the Irish took to the court for practice this week with a renewed emphasis after falling to Washington St., IUPUI and Northern Iowa while only winning one set against all three teams combined.
“We are working at getting better every day,” Irish coach Debbie Brown said. “I have been very impressed with this team — they have done everything we have asked them to do and have brought good intensity, openness and a positive attitude.”
The biggest setback of last weekend was the loss of graduate student Nicole Smith to an ankle injury against Washington St. Notre Dame had already been reeling from the loss of senior All-American honorable mention Toni Alugbue to a season-ending ACL injury.
“This team has had a lot to overcome this season and this team should be proud of their responses to all of it,” Brown said.
Injuries have forced three freshman — Sam Fry, Sydney Kuhn and Natalie Johnson — into starting roles. Fry, in particular, has logged several stellar starts for the Irish and is the team leader in points, total blocks and block assists. The freshman is also ranked second in the ACC in blocks per set.
This weekend’s Shamrock Invitational will feature two teams that are not perennial opponents for the Irish. The team has never played TCU (5-2) and has only faced Northeastern (4-3) once. Northern Iowa (2-6), however, has matched up four times with Notre Dame in program history.Following last week’s performance, the Irish have targeted areas of their play that could prove critical in ending their slow start this season, Brown said. Against IUPUI, for instance, the Notre Dame recorded just a .138 hitting percentage and recorded only 34 kills.
“There are two things we really need to work on as a team after last week,” Brown said. “The first is kill percentage, where we really lagged last week. The second is our transition offense, which was really a weak point last week.”
The Shamrock Invitational will mark the last time the Irish will play at home during the month of October. Following this weekend, they hit the road to West Lafayette, Indiana, followed by two conference matchups in Florida.
“It is always easier to play at home. That way we can stick to our schedule and routine, making preparation easier,” Brown said.
The Irish host the Shamrock Invitational this weekend, their home second tournament in as many weekends. Their first game will be against TCU on Friday, followed by a doubleheader Saturday against Northeastern and Northern Iowa.