Irish claim two wins, one loss on the road
Observer Sports Staff | Monday, September 16, 2019
Notre Dame travelled to Highland Heights, Kentucky this weekend in a three-game series that saw it take on Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Ball State. Looking to build on their momentum from a top-25 win over Purdue earlier in the week, the Irish fell to Cincinnati early but bounced back and claimed wins over both the Norse and the Cardinals.
The Irish got off to a strong start Friday against the Bearcats, claiming a 3-1 lead, but things quickly settled down as both teams proceeded to exchange points. Five errors in the middle of the match found the Irish down 13-8 as they attempted to keep things close. The Bearcats continued to extend their lead with the Irish, never coming within more than three points and eventually dropping the first set of the weekend.
The scripts seemed to switch in the following set as the match remained close throughout the first half of play before the Irish took over. With a one-point lead in the middle of the set, freshmen outside hitter Caroline Meuth and sophomore right side hitter Sydney Bent and sophomore outside hitter Charley Neigo all contributing a total of five kills to give the Irish and 18-25 win.
Notre Dame dropped both of the next two sets 25-20 as they were unable to close things out down the stretch. While the Bearcats connected on some key hits, the Irish were also hurt by a series of service and assist errors, totally 18 to Cincinnati’s 12.
Returning to action the next day, Notre Dame looked ready to drop its second-straight match after losing its first set 25-19 to Northern Kentucky. The second set proved the Irish were in for a tough match as things remained tied up 17-17. However, Meuth once again stepped up, rattling off a trio of kills to give the Irish a necessary cushion and claim a five-point set win. The third set followed the same trend, with neither team able to completely separate until the front line for Notre Dame stepped up and landed a series of tough hits to which the Norse were unable to respond, giving the Irish a 22-25 win and the lead in the match. In the final set of the matchup, neither team relented, eventually tying things up at 24. Graduate student middle blocker Kristen Baer gave the Irish a one-point lead until a service error handed Notre Dame a 27-25 win for the day.
In the final showdown for Notre Dame, the Irish met Ball State to cap off the weekend. For the third time that weekend, the Irish dropped their opening set by at least six points, despite four kills by Bent. In the second set, things looked to remain close at first before the Irish took over, claiming a 18-10 lead and eventually ending with a nine-point win.
In the final two sets of play, the Cardinals kept things close, before the Irish finished in the final plays, ending with a 25-22 and 26-24 win. Bent was a key contributor in the win over Ball State, recording a team-high 16 kills.
The Irish will return to Purcell Pavilion on Wednesday to host Michigan at 7 p.m. before traveling to Ann Arbor to face the Wolverines on the road on Sunday.