Irish set to square off against Hurricanes, Seminoles
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, October 28, 2016
Notre Dame looks to continue its three-game win streak this week, with home matchups against Miami and No. 11 Florida State.
The Irish (18-4, 9-1 ACC) defeated the Hurricanes (9-13, 3-7) earlier this season away from home in straight sets. The Seminoles (16-3, 9-1) are tied in second in the ACC alongside the Irish with only a single loss in conference play this year. Undefeated North Carolina sits atop the conference with a 10-0 league mark.
Notre Dame has won 10 of its last 11 games, with one of those victories being against Miami. The 10 wins in conference play marks the most for Notre Dame since joining the ACC. The Hurricanes have been less successful this year, winning only three games since last facing the Irish.
In its last game, Notre Dame took control early versus Virginia Tech and only increased the lead as the match went on, winning 25-20, 25-15 and 25-18. The Irish dominated with their striking, converting 42 kills on 108 attempts.
The Irish also excelled in their serving in their last outing against Miami, totaling eight aces on the night, much higher than their season average of 5.7 aces per three sets.
Leading the Miami offense is junior outside hitter Olga Strantzali, who contributes 4.53 kills per set, nearly two more kills per set than anyone on the Irish roster. Slowing her down like they did in their previous game may prove a key if the Irish are to succeed.
Next up on the schedule is Florida State, the toughest opponent remaining in the regular season for the Irish. The No. 11-ranked team in the nation, the Seminoles have only one loss in ACC play and three losses on the year, with their one conference loss coming against No. 8 North Carolina in straight sets. Notre Dame narrowly lost to the Tar Heels at the beginning of fall break in five games.
The Seminoles’ biggest strength is their blocking, an area where they rank 10th in the nation with 2.89 blocks per set. Florida State’s defense is anchored by senior middle blocker Melanie Keil, who has 1.67 blocks per set. The Irish will likely have to disrupt the stalwart Seminole defense if they want to come away with a victory.
Notre Dame takes on Miami at 7 p.m. Friday at Purcell Pavilion. The second game of the weekend will take place Sunday at 1 p.m. when the Irish face the Seminoles at Purcell Pavilion.