Irish to finish home stretch against Tigers, Yellowjackets
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, October 4, 2019
Notre Dame Volleyball will compete in the final games of their four-game homestand this weekend with matchups against Clemson on Friday night and Georgia Tech on Sunday.
The Irish (9-3, 2-0 ACC) have been asserting themselves on the defensive side of the net this season, ranking fourth among ACC teams with a .174 hitting percentage allowed and third in blocks per set at 2.6. They also rank first in digs per set with 16.08 and opponent service aces allowed per set at 0.8. Junior libero Madison Cruzado is eighth in the ACC, averaging 2.68 digs per set while graduate student middle blocker Kristin Baer is fourth in the conference at 1.35 blocks per set.
The Tigers (6-7, 0-2 ACC) have yet to win a game away from home this season. While they had an up-and-down season so far, they have had to face some tough opponents, including back-to-back against then-No. 9 Wisconsin and at No. 7 Minnesota. They are led by redshirt junior outside hitter Kaylin Korte, who is averaging 3.49 kills per set this season and 4.03 points per set, both team highs. However, the Tigers do have a balanced attack with redshirt junior outside hitter Brooke Bailey and sophomore right side hitter Solei Thomas both averaging over 2.6 kills per set.
The Tigers’ strength lies in their attack, ranking fourth among ACC teams in kills per set with 13.21. However, their defense has lagged behind by giving up 1.46 service aces per set — the worst mark in the conference. They are also giving up the third highest opponent hitting percentage at .227.
While Notre Dame’s defense has been strong this year, their offense has somewhat lagged behind. The Irish are 11th in the conference with a .200 hitting percentage, sixth in assists per set at 11.9, and last in opponent digs at 16.98. Sophomore outside hitter Charley Niego and sophomore right side hitter Sydney Bent are even for the team lead in kills and kills per set with 158 and 3.29, respectively. Also, sophomore setter Zoe Nunez is posting 10.6 assist per set, the third best mark in the ACC. They will look to give the Irish a spark attacking.
After Clemson, the Irish will face Georgia Tech (8-5, 1-1 ACC). The Yellowjackets are led by freshman outside hitter Julia Bergmann who has recorded 182 kills this season, 3.79 per set, and sophomore outside hitter Mikaila Dowd, who has posted 144 kills at a 3.0 per set clip. Sophomore setter Matti McKissock also leads the ACC with 11.25 assists per set.
Those players fuel a high-powered Yellowjackets offense that is second in the conference in hitting percentage and kills per set at .270 and 14.21, respectively. Still, Georgia Tech’s defense, similar to Clemson’s, isn’t on par with their attack. The Irish will look to exploit those matchups this weekend and get their offense going.
Notre Dame and Clemson face off on Friday at 7 p.m.