ND prepares for three matches at weekend Invitational
Meagan Bens | Friday, September 7, 2018
The Irish will face Western Kentucky, Miami (OH) and Chattanooga in Bowling Green, Kentucky, this weekend as their first extended stretch of matches away from home commences.
Last Sunday, Notre Dame (4-1) lost to Purdue 3-1 on the road, ending its winning streak and resulting in its first loss of the season, but head coach Mike Johnson said the loss still serves as an opportunity to improve itself.
“There were a lot of things we could of done better,” Johnson said. “When you don’t win, it’s healthier to not think so much about opponent, but more about what we didn’t do. We addressed things like serving, attacking and playing clean. We addressed defensive situations and we got better in all of those things at practice this week. If we continue to improve I like our odds if we play those guys down the road.”
Even though this weekend is the first stretch on the road for the Irish, Johnson said he is not worried about the different territory affecting their performance.
“It’s a challenge for everyone, but we approach every game the same way, and sometimes it can be easier on road because you don’t have the distractions of being at home,” Johnson said. “I’ll imagine it will be different but I don’t worry about it.”
Out of the three opponents, the Irish are most recently familiar with the Hilltoppers (3-4), who they faced in the first round of the NCAA championship and lost to 3-0.
“We as a team we never size up opponents,” Johnson said. “And our team doesn’t size up points. It is a mistake to try and determine this is going to be easy or this is going to be hard. We approach every point the same. And I’m anticipating all are going to be hard. The real opponent is us and our standard and our style of play more than anything else.”
Although it is early in the season, Johnson said the freshmen’s performance continues to impress him as three out of the four started against Purdue and will have the opportunity to do so again this weekend.
“The four have chances to be good players down road,” Johnson said. “They are acclimating fast, work hard and are adjusting quickly. The speed they are acclimating is a testament to them and to the upperclassmen who are modeling behavior and what it looks like.”
As Notre Dame prepares to kick off the Holiday Inn-University Plaza Invitational by facing the Hilltoppers at 7 p.m. Friday, Johnson echoed that every game is centered around improvement.
“It’s early in season and some have had good performances and some not so good performances,” Johnson said. “Everyone is just seeing if we can play with consistency. It’s just an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and improve. We embrace these opportunities to get better and see if our level of training will form habits that we can recall on game day.”
After playing Western Kentucky on Friday evening, the Irish will face Miami (OH) at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning before playing Chattanooga at 5:30 p.m. that evening to complete the weekend’s competition.