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ND Volleyball

ND clinches one, drops three

| Monday, October 27, 2014

The Irish achieved mixed results over the last two weekends against four conference opponents, beating Boston College at home after losing to Clemson and then losing at Virginia Tech and Virginia.

Notre Dame (5-16, 2-8 ACC) struggled from the start against Clemson (15-7, 4-5), who capitalized on Irish miscues and used its strong offensive attack to take the game in three sets, winning 25-10, 25-19, 28-26.

The Irish had eight service errors in the last set alone, as well as 23 hitting errors in the match and an attack percentage of just .075.

In their next match, the Irish played much closer from the start, but Boston College (8-12, 3-6) was able to fend them off and take the first two sets, 25-23 and 25-19.

Notre Dame, however, showcased its resilience, winning 25-22 and 25-18 to force a fifth set. In the final frame, the Irish pulled away on an 8-0 run that put them up 11-5, ultimately winning 15-7 to capture a 3-2 win.

“In the Boston College match, we didn’t come out and play extremely well right off the bat,” Irish assistant coach Craig Bere said. “But we regrouped and continued to grind and do the little things well.”

Senior middle blocker Jeni Houser led the team with 13 kills, and graduate student outside hitter Nicole Smith and freshman middle blocker Sam Fry each added 12.

“Outside hitting has been a point of emphasis for us,” Bere said. “Being consistent there has been important for us when we’re playing well.”

The Irish seemed to carry their momentum into the next game at Virginia Tech, taking a 21-14 lead against the Hokies (9-13, 2-7) in the first set. Notre Dame could not hold on and dropped the set 27-25. Notre Dame’s struggles continued as the team hit just .070 for the match and was swept in three sets (27-25, 25-20, 25-16).

Notre Dame made a quick turnaround and traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia, the following day for what turned out to be an exciting match against the Cavaliers (13-9, 6-3). Virginia was 7-1 at home coming in and took the first set, 25-23, but the Irish took a 2-1 lead with 25-22 and 25-15 set wins.

What followed was an intense fourth set with 21 ties and 11 lead changes. Notre Dame had three chances to close the match on its serves but was unable to capitalize and lost, 33-31. The Cavaliers took the fifth set, 15-8, to win the match.

Despite the squandered opportunity, Bere said he took away some positives from the game.

“Against Virginia we played well, and our distribution was really nice,” he said. “If we can do that again [in our upcoming matches], I think that will give us a little bit of a different look.”

Although victory eluded the Irish against the Cavaliers, their 72 kills and 67 assists were their highest single-game totals in nearly six years. They topped Virginia with a .256 attack percentage and 81 digs.

Bere said he was impressed by the strong performance of junior setter Hannah Muzzonigro, who totaled seven kills, 54 assists and 16 digs, all career highs. Muzzonigro’s passing helped Smith tally 20 kills, and sophomore middle blocker Katie Higgins added 14 more.

The Irish host Georgia Tech on Friday at 7 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion before traveling to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, for a rematch against Boston College at 12 p.m. Sunday.

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