Irish return home to face Syracuse, No. 25 Duke
Henry Hilliard | Thursday, October 2, 2014
For the first time in nearly a month, the Irish return home to Purcell Pavilion as they continue ACC competition this weekend.
Notre Dame (3-10, 0-2 ACC) will face Syracuse today at 7 p.m. and No. 25 Duke on Sunday afternoon.
This weekend’s matches come on of the heels of a 3-0 loss to No. 6 Florida State in Tallahassee, Florida, last weekend. The Irish were much more competitive than the match score would suggest, besting the Seminoles in assists and kills, with 42 and 46, respectively. The leader on the afternoon was junior setter Hanna Muzzonigro, who had a career day, earning 34 assists. Freshman Natalie Johnson also had a strong performance with a season-high 17 digs, the ninth time this season she has posted double-digit digs.
“I was happy to see the team rebound after losing on Friday night to come back Sunday against a really strong Florida State team and play at a high level the entire time,” Irish coach Debbie Brown said.
Despite the respectable showing against the Seminoles, Brown said the Irish are channeling their energy toward winning their first conference games this weekend.
“For us, there are no moral victories,” Brown said. “We want to win matches, and the best way for us to do that is to improve our serving and passing games. As a team, our goal is to obviously win our matches this weekend, and that only happens if we do better on our serves and passes.”
Similarly, tonight’s Syracuse (7-7, 0-2) team played a tight match with No. 12 North Carolina last weekend, which was marked by 22 lead changes and nine ties. However, the Orange have led every opponent in blocking in every match this season.
The Blue Devils (10-3, 2-0) will face Notre Dame on Sunday after playing fellow ACC-rival Virginia today in Charlottesville, Virginia. Duke is undefeated at home but carries a 1-3 road record in its 2014 campaign.
Duke comes to Notre Dame having won its first conference game last weekend against Georgia Tech. The Blue Devils won the day on the strength of their defense, holding the Yellow Jackets to a .188 hitting percentage, while they had a .340 hitting percentage and 68 kills.
After competing away from Purcell Pavilion during the last three weeks, Brown said the Irish relish the opportunity to return to their normal home routine tonight.
“We love playing at home,” she said. “It is so much easier to stay on your own schedule and in your own locker room. We can focus only our matches without the distractions of playing on the road.”
The Irish and Orange face off today at 7 p.m., while Notre Dame takes on Duke on Sunday at 1 p.m., with both matches at Purcell Pavilion.