ND tops Louisville in five sets
Observer Sports Staff | Sunday, November 9, 2014
After three straight losses in matches that each went to a fifth set, Notre Dame bounced back Sunday afternoon against Louisville at Purcell Pavilion, rallying from an early two-set deficit to win, 3-2.
With the victory, the Irish (6-18, 3-10 ACC) snapped a four-game skid. The conference contest featured 39 ties and 15 lead changes and was decided by a competitive final set in which the Cardinals (14-11, 6-7 ACC) countered the Irish momentum to tie the set at nine before Notre Dame pulled away for the set win and match clincher, 15-13.
Freshman setter Maddie Dilfer led the charge. She recorded 48 assists and 15 digs for Notre Dame. Dilfer was one of four Irish players to have 10 or more kills on the afternoon.
Senior libero Kathleen Severyn and graduate student outside hitter Nicole Smith also played critical roles in the victory. Severyn earned a career-high 18 digs, and her solid passing helped propel the Irish to their come-from-behind victory. Smith recorded 18 kills, the most of any Notre Dame player.
The Cardinals jumped out to an early lead over the Irish, winning the first two sets, 25-16 and 25-17, respectively. They were led by junior libero Roxanne McVey who set the pace for match with 22 digs, more than any other player in the match.
Five of Notre Dame’s last six matches have been decided by a fifth set. Sunday, though, was the first time the Irish were able to complete the comeback and win in the final set. After losing the first two sets, Notre Dame claimed the next three with scores of 25-23, 25-22 and 15-13.
The Irish won the final set on the strength of their serving. With momentum and a crowd of over 1,000 on their side, the Irish finished the match with eight service aces. The Cardinals recorded just two. Freshman libero Natalie Johnson recorded a season-high mark of three service aces. The defensive specialist also had 12 passes on the day, second only to Severyn’s 18.
After two consecutive weeks at Purcell Pavilion, the Irish are back on the road next weekend for the final time in the 2014 campaign. They will face ACC opponents Wake Forest and No. 25 Duke on Friday night and Sunday afternoon. The matches are slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.