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Notre Dame hosts ACC rivals Duke and Wake Forest

| Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Irish continue their run through the ACC with two home matches this weekend and two on-the-road next week.

Notre Dame (6-12, 1-5 ACC) will welcome Duke and Wake Forest to campus this weekend. The team will take on the Blue Devils (7-9, 2-4) on Friday at 7 p.m. and the Demon Deacons (9-9, 1-5 ACC) on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Following a rough stretch that saw the Irish drop six consecutive matches, they finally clinched their first conference win this past Friday by outlasting Clemson, 3-2, in a five-set nail biter (25-12, 25-22, 22-25, 19-25, 15-13). Though they fell to Georgia Tech on Sunday, 3-0, junior middle blocker Katie Higgins said the win over Clemson gave her and her teammates confidence heading into this next string of matches.

“[The win] definitely instilled a lot of confidence in us,” Higgins said. “We played at the potential that we knew we could play at.

“Even though it went to five, we felt like we had control in the game the whole time. It felt good to finally play the game that we knew that we could, at our best.”

Sophomore outside hitter Sam Fry echoed this sentiment.

“As we’ve said before, the more we start winning, then we’ll have that winning mentality, which will be good to carry through the rest of the season,” Fry said. “So it’s a good confidence booster, and all of the ACC matches are tough so it was good to know that we could finish the match like that.”

With 14 matches remaining on their schedule, the Irish have more opportunities to improve upon their season. Higgins said the team is focusing on preparing the same way it has all season before its match with Duke on Friday.

“Some things that we always try to focus on are the serving and passing battles, being a better serving team and then being the better passing team than the other team,” Higgins said. “One thing that we are really focused on is our blocking and being in the right place at the right time, so we’ll continue to work on those for this weekend.”

Fry added that the Irish want to build on some of things they saw this past weekend on the road. “What we’re gonna take away from this weekend is ball control, just making moves — passing moves, blocking moves — and keep bettering specifics of our individual games,” Fry said.

After the Irish make it past Duke and Wake Forest on Sunday, Notre Dame begins its preparation for fellow ACC-opponents No. 25 Louisville and Virginia the next week. The Irish first take on the Cardinals (12-4, 6-0) on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. in Louisville and then head to Charlottesville to meet the Cavaliers (12-5, 4-2) at 7 p.m. on Oct. 23.

Notre Dame and Louisville met earlier this season Sept. 25 when the Cardinals swept the Irish (25-23, 25-19, 25-16) at Notre Dame, as the Irish were unable to hold on to 22-18 lead in the first set.

The Irish return to action Friday night at 7 p.m. when they take on the Blue Devils at Purcell Pavilion before welcoming Wake Forest to campus Sunday at 1 p.m. The action will continue during fall break with matches at Louisville and Virginia on Oct. 21 and 23, respectively.

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