Notre Dame seeks to continue strong start at Shamrock Invitational
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, September 2, 2016
Recovering from a disappointing 2015 season, Notre Dame’s early momentum will be put to the test this weekend as the team plays at home in the Shamrock Invitational. No. 24 Purdue is a headline opponent on the slate, which also includes unranked Coastal Carolina and Howard.
The Irish (3-0) are coming off an unbeaten performance at the Golden Dome Invitational, which is the team’s best start in five years. The Irish defeated Seton Hall, Western Michigan and Cleveland State, each in straight sets. Junior setter Caroline Holt was named the MVP of the tournament, racking up 105 assists and leading the team in digs with 12. Junior middle blocker Sam Fry and freshman outside hitter Jemma Yeadon were also named to the all-tournament team. Yeadon made her collegiate debut in the Golden Dome Invitational and earned 16 kills to show for it, while the upperclassman Fry totaled 25 kills over the course of the weekend.
Notre Dame’s biggest competition for the weekend — the Boilermakers (2-1) — will be looking to rebound as they fell to No. 23 Kentucky in five sets last weekend. Despite the loss, Purdue junior setter Ashley Evans posted her first career triple double with 10 kills, 10 digs and 43 assists. Purdue led Kentucky earlier in the deciding fifth set 4-1 and later 8-5, but the Wildcats scored six of the next seven points to take an 11-9 lead. And though the Boilermakers extended the game a few more points, they fell short by a final score of 20-18.
Coastal Carolina (3-0) is undefeated after wins in the Florida Invitational Tournament over Miami, Florida A&M and Florida International. Similar to the Irish, the Chanticleers have not lost a set in their first three games. The Chanticleers are led by senior middle back Annayka Legros and junior outside hitter Leah Hardeman. Legros has 14 blocks and 21 kills on the season, while Hardeman leads the team with 30 kills and is tied with senior outside hitter Natasa Savovic for the team lead in kills with 22.
Joining Coastal Carolina and Notre Dame, Howard (4-0) is also entering the Shamrock Invitational with an undefeated record after winning the District of Columbia Volleyball Challenge. On the way to their 3-0 record, the Bison defeated George Mason, Georgetown and American in five sets. Then on Tuesday, the Bison beat UMBC to bring their record up to 4-0. Sophomore setter Tamia Dokcery leads the Bison with 41 digs, while sophomore middle backer Olubumi Okunade sets the pace for the team in blocks with 23.
The Irish first take the court on Friday at 7 p.m. in Purcell Pavilion Pavilion against Coastal Carolina. On Saturday, they will play Howard at 12:30 p.m. and Purdue at 7 p.m.