Irish win one of three at Purdue
Manuel De Jesus | Tuesday, September 22, 2015
The Notre Dame volleyball team traveled to West Lafayette over the weekend to compete in the Purdue Boiler Box Challenge, in which it finished 1-2.
The Irish (5-7) started off on the right foot Friday night, beating Ball State 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-19). Sophomore middle blocker Sam Fry, sophomore outside hitter Sydney Kuhn and freshman middle blocker Meg Morningstar led the Irish throughout the match. The three of them helped Notre Dame achieve a .313 attacking rate, their highest percentage of the season. In addition to leading the team with 10 kills, Fry had a team-high five blocks. Kuhn provided eight kills and seven digs, and Morningstar added another seven kills for the offense.
Notre Dame finished their first set against the Cardinals with a 12-point win, which ended with a serve error committed by Ball State. The second set was much more competitive between the two teams after being tied up at 10 points apiece. The Irish eventually pulled away from the Cardinals, going on a 9-2 run that gave them the win in the second set. In the final set, the Irish played exceptionally well on offense, posting 14 kills, which was too much for the Cardinals to handle. The Irish walked away with the sweep after a kill from Morningstar secured the final point.
Fry said the team’s focus leading up to the weekend was primarily on their defensive efforts.
“We worked on our blocking,” Fry said. “Throughout the past tournaments, that was part of the game that we wanted to work on. Working with the girls in the middle is sort of what I focused on. One of the techniques that we’ve worked on is making sure we’re placing our arms over the net more. We just want to make sure everyone is doing their job, doing our serves well. I don’t think we had many serve errors, and our defense was really good.”
Despite the strong start against Ball State, Notre Dame stumbled during its second game against South Dakota, losing 3-2 (25-23, 20-25, 25-14, 19-25, 15-6). In the games the Irish won, their attacking percentages were high, and when they lost, their attacking rates were .125, .161 and .000.
The Coyotes had a total of 64 kills in the five sets and most of their players contributed to their success offensively. Sophomore setter Brittany Jessen had a total of nine kills, 12 digs and 47 kills to help lead South Dakota to the five-set win.
“Not too sure what happened [against South Dakota],” Fry said. “I don’t know if we weren’t focused, but we definitely learned quickly from that loss and used what we learned against Purdue.”
Notre Dame was able to win a set against No. 22 Purdue, but it didn’t do enough to win the match, losing three sets to one (25-12, 24-26, 28-26, 25-16). The Irish made it interesting with a win in the second frame, but despite giving the Boilermakers a tough third set, Notre Dame wasn’t able to put away a second straight set to take the lead. Purdue then won the final set convincingly to take the match and win the Boiler Box Challenge with a 3-0 record.
“They had a really good hitter on the right side,” Fry said. “We were back to working hard against Purdue, and they’re a really good team. We were able to take a set against them. Even though we lost, we played well and got better as it progressed.”
Fry led the team with 15 kills in their game against Purdue. Kuhn also added another 13 kills. At the end of the tournament, Fry was given all-tournament honors for her performance over the weekend.
“I don’t like to be an individual type of player,” Fry said. “I like the aspect of a team. It was awesome I was awarded that, but I’m more focused on the team.”
Notre Dame will have a chance to redeem itself Friday as it opens conference play against Louisville at Purcell Pavilion at 7 p.m.