Irish travel to North Carolina for weekend
Daisy Costello | Thursday, October 29, 2015
This weekend, the Fighting Irish will travel to North Carolina to take on ACC foes North Carolina State and North Carolina.
The Irish (6-16, 1-9 ACC) are coming off of a tough 3-1 loss to Virginia (19-25, 25-23, 25-11, 25-16) to cap off a five-match skid since defeating Clemson on Oct. 9 for the team’s lone ACC victory of the season. The Irish look to notch a couple more ACC victories this weekend before welcoming Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh to Purcell Pavilion on Nov. 6 and Nov. 8, respectively. Irish head coach Jim McLaughlin stressed that the key to an Irish victory is limiting the number of unforced errors the team commits.
“I’ve been saying it for a while, but unforced errors and consistency are certain things you have to do to not beat yourself first,” McLaughlin said. “You have got to learn to make opponents earn things, and we tend to give points, so we’re learning to not beat ourselves. Once you have that under control, then you learn how to beat opponents.”
The Irish will travel first to Raleigh, North Carolina, to take on NC State on Friday. The Wolfpack (13-9, 2-8) have just two ACC wins, however, they snapped a five-match losing streak Friday in a straight-set victory over Clemson (25-21, 25-22, 25-20). A trio of NC State players — freshman middle blocker Blayke Hranicka, sophomore outside hitter Perry Ramsey and sophomore outside hitter Julia Brown — each notched 10 or more kills in the win. After its win over Clemson, NC State dropped a 3-0 decision at Georgia Tech on Sunday.
The Irish will travel from Raleigh to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to take on North Carolina on Sunday. The Tar Heels (11-8, 8-2) have been dominant against ACC opponents thus far this season, with their lone two conference losses coming against No. 15 Florida State and Pittsburgh. They are currently riding a three-game win streak, with victories over Miami, Georgia Tech and Clemson in their last three outings. The Tar Heels are led offensively by senior middle hitter Paige Neuenfeldt, who has racked up 163 kills thus far in 2015. Neuenfeldt was first-team all-ACC following her junior season in 2014.
“We know that North Carolina has some very good hitters and that they are going to set them a high volume,” McLaughlin said. “We’re going to have to slow them down, we have to control the ball at a higher level both on the floor and in the air.”
The Wolfpack and Tar Heels will have to find an answer for the most electric offensive weapon for the Irish, sophomore outside hitter Sam Fry, who has accumulated 254 kills thus far this season. The Irish have a narrow statistical advantage over the Tar Heels with 889 team kills in 2015 compared to 885 for the Tar Heels.
“We’ve had to ride Sam [Fry] quite a bit, but she’s handled it very, very well,” McLaughlin said, “She’s been tough and she is really working on holding herself to that standard every day.”
The Irish travel this weekend to take on ACC rivals NC State and North Carolina. They play Friday in Raleigh against the Wolfpack at 7:30 p.m. before traveling to Chapel Hill to take on the Tar Heels on Sunday at 1 p.m.