Losing streak continues for ND
Hunter McDaniel | Tuesday, November 3, 2015
The Irish continued their slide in the ACC over the weekend, dropping two matches and extending their losing streak to seven as well as 12 of their last 13.
Notre Dame (6-18, 1-11 ACC) spent Halloween weekend traveling through North Carolina, with stops in both Raleigh and Chapel Hill.
In Friday’s match against NC State, the Irish saw some of their best volleyball in weeks, but the team was unable to translate that into a victory as it fell 3-2 (23-25, 22-25, 25-18, 25-19, 16-14).
“The first two sets we came out really strong,” freshman libero Ryann DeJarld said. “We got them in trouble with our serving; we were really consistent. Our goals every time out are to be under 12 percent in hitting errors and 10 percent in serving errors. We did that in the first two sets but then slipped in the third and fourth.
“NC State came out with a lot of firepower. It was definitely a tough match, but I felt that we made a lot of progress in sustaining our solid play for a longer. We should’ve been able to close it out, especially since the fifth set finished 16-14. It kind of sucks when you look at it like that, but I feel like we made some progress and played better than we did last weekend.”
The Irish got off to a quick start against the Wolfpack (14-10, 3-9), dominating the first two sets through a combination of strong serving and a number of Wolfpack errors.
Though the Irish found themselves up 2-0 at the break, NC State would not be denied a comeback and ultimately prevailed over the Irish in the fifth-set tiebreak.
Sophomore outside hitter Sydney Kuhn finished with 14 kills and 10 digs on her way to a double-double while fellow sophomore outside hitter Sam Fry led the team with 16 kills and five blocks.
Then the Irish made the trip from Raleigh to Chapel Hill for a match against North Carolina on Sunday. The Tar Heels (13-8, 10-2 ACC) proved to be too much as they outlasted the Irish on their way to a 3-1 victory (27-25, 25-17, 23-25, 25-20).
The opening set saw 11 ties and five lead changes as well as an Irish comeback from down 10-4 to tie it at 17 before the Tar Heels were able to close out a close first frame.
After another close second set that saw the Tar Heels finish with 12 of 17 points, Notre Dame came back from the break with a third set win to cut the Tar Heel lead to 2-1.
North Carolina was simply too strong for the upset-minded Irish in the fourth set, though, and secured a 3-1 victory over Notre Dame.
Against the Tar Heels, sophomore setter Maddie Dilfer and Kuhn both pulled off double-doubles. Kuhn had 13 kills and 10 digs to secure her second double-double of the weekend while Dilfer registered 42 assists and 11 digs.
DeJarld led the team with 28 digs against the Tar Heels, marking the third time this season she’s had at least that many.
“Our UNC game was probably one of our best matches of the season defensively,” DeJarld said. “… We were really scrappy. We definitely should have had the first set of the match. We just have to execute and convert our defense into hitting. Everything has to be on at the same time if we want to start getting some wins.”
In both matches, Irish head coach Jim McLaughlin played his underclassmen almost exclusively, something DeJarld said she thinks will help the team in the near future.
“We’re obviously a really young team,” DeJarld said. “We started all freshmen and sophomores this weekend. We’re getting that experience. To put it into perspective, we’re 18 and 19 playing 22-year-olds, so going into the last few weeks and next season we can begin to utilize that experience, and we’re definitely getting stronger as a team as this season is going on.”
Notre Dame will look to end its current losing streak when it returns to action Friday, though its tough stretch of conference matches will continue as well. The Irish host Virginia Tech at 7 p.m. Friday and Pittsburg at 1 p.m. Sunday at Purcell Pavilion.