Notre Dame seeks to make ‘progress’ into wins
Andrew Robinson | Thursday, November 6, 2014
On a four-game losing skid against conference opponents, the Irish have a chance to rebound and turn their progress into a win when they take on Louisville on Sunday at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame (5-18, 2-10 ACC) is coming off a 3-2 loss to Boston College last Sunday in which a comeback run in the third and fourth sets fell short (25-21, 25-18, 21-25, 23-25, 15-6).
Heading into the final set, the match seemed eerily reminiscent of the first time the Irish played the Eagles — the Irish won that match 3-2 at home after falling behind 2-0. However, they were unable to complete the comeback on the road the second time around.
The loss marked the third consecutive 3-2 loss for Notre Dame, showing improvement from the beginning of their conference schedule. In their first seven matches, the Irish posted a 1-6 record, which included four 3-0 losses. They have since won nine sets in their past five matches, despite putting up just a 1-4 record.
“We’ve been a little inconsistent still, but our overall level of play is definitely better,” Irish associate head coach Robin Davis said. “We just unfortunately haven’t been able to come up with the wins like we feel we should have. “
The Cardinals (14-9, 6-5) will also come to Purcell Pavilion this weekend on the heels of a loss, having dropped a hard-fought game against Virginia, in which they lost the decisive fifth set, 15-12.
Louisville, currently ranked seventh in the ACC, is powered offensively by two sophomore outside hitters, Janelle Jenkins and Maya McClendon. Jenkins has tallied 273 kills on the year (3.1 kills per set), while McClendon is just behind her at 269 kills (3.06 kills per set). Freshman middle blocker Tess Clark has added 210 kills and boasts a 0.421 attack percentage.
“Louisville plays the net game really well, so we have to try to neutralize that,” Davis said. “Our serving will be key to keeping them off the net a little bit, and our floor defense will have to be a little bit better like we’ve done lately.”
In the first match between Notre Dame and Louisville on Oct. 12, the Cardinals swept the Irish easily in three sets (25-14, 25-19, 25-13), showing off their power with 46 kills, compared to 26 for the Irish.
Following 10 consecutive weeks of multi-game weekends, which has taken the Irish to nine different cities, the Sunday’s home game is the only one this weekend.
“I think it’s great for us [to get some rest], especially with the academics that the players have,” Davis said. “We’ve been able to shorten the practice a little bit this week and get in a couple extra practices, so we’re … still getting quality touches throughout the week.”
Davis also said he hopes the extra rest will give them some rejuvenation and fresh legs heading into the game.
Notre Dame will square off against Louisville at 1 p.m. Sunday at Purcell Pavilion.