Irish end four-game road trip with split in Florida
Observer Sports Staff | Monday, November 11, 2019
Notre Dame volleyball split a pair of road games in the Sunshine State with a win over Florida State and a loss to Miami (Fla.). This weekend marks the third-straight where the Irish (17-7, 10-4 ACC) have split two games, and brings their record to 4-4 in their last eight games.
The Irish posted a clean sweep against the Seminoles (17-7, 10-4 ACC) with two relatively comfortable set wins sandwiched around a tight second set. Both teams vied for position in the first set, playing to a 5-5 tie before a 4-0 Irish run gave them the 9-5 advantage. The Seminoles would respond, however, rattling off six of the next eight points to once again even the score at 11 apiece.
However, Notre Dame would gain another four-point advantage with a 5-1 run. Despite Florida State cutting the lead to 19-17, the Irish wouldn’t look back as they pulled away and capped the 25-20 set victory with a kill by graduate student middle blocker Kristen Baer.
As the second period opened, it looked as though the Irish may gain another comfortable advantage after jumping out to a 4-0 lead and extending it to 9-3 tanks to two consecutive kills by sophomore right side hitter Sydney Bent. The Seminoles would not go quietly, however, eventually going on an 8-2 run to even the score at 14-14.
After Notre Dame gained a 19-16 advantage and forced a Florida State timeout, the Seminoles came back to even the score once more at 20-20. Even as Notre Dame was on the brink of victory with a 24-22 advantage, the Seminoles rallied to knot the game at 24-24, but the Irish had just enough to pull away. Thanks to a kill by sophomore outside hitter Charley Niego and a Seminoles attack error, the visitors gained a 27-25 set win and a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.
In the third and final set, the Seminoles fought to stay in the game, but ultimately ran out of gas. The score never got closer than after Florida State cut the margin to 9-8 in favor of Notre Dame. The Irish went on a 4-1 scoring streak to go up 13-9, then later used a 6-0 run to balloon the lead to 21-12. Just as in the first set, Baer clinched the set with a kill to take the final period 25-19 and sweep the Seminoles.
Niego and Bent led the Irish with 17 and 13 kills, respectively, while sophomore setter Zoe Nunez and junior libero Madison Cruzado recorded game-highs of 42 assists and 19 digs, respectively.
In the highly-contested second matchup of the weekend, the Irish fell in five sets to Miami (10-12, 6-8 ACC). The first set was a back-and-forth affair with multiple lead changes. After reaching a 13-13 draw, Miami went up 16-14 before Notre Dame responded with five-straight points to go up 19-16. However, a Hurricanes timeout to regroup allowed the hosts to go on their own 5-0 run to take a 21-19 lead. The Irish would even the score at 21 again, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Hurricanes pulled away just enough to earn a 26-24 victory in the set.
Trailing for the first time all weekend, the Irish answered in the second set. Once again the lead traded hands until, after reaching a 15-15 tie, the Irish rattled off three points to go up 18-15. They would maintain their lead from there, staving off a Miami run to even the match with a 25-23 set win.
Miami found more of a rhythm in the third set, jumping out to a 10-6 lead and maintaining it for the remainder of the set. The Irish would get as close as two points, but the Hurricanes held on to their advantage and won the set 25-20 to put the Irish on the brink of elimination. Even so, the visitors would not go quietly.
Despite falling behind as much as 21-14 in the fourth set, Notre Dame stormed back on a 9-2 run to knot the score at 23. As Miami went up 24-23 and needed only one point to secure a victory over the Irish, a kill by freshman outside hitter Caroline Meuth and two by Niego lifted Notre Dame to a 26-24 win and forced a decisive fifth set.
However, the Irish ran out of steam in the final stanza. After reaching a 7-7 tie, Miami took the lead for good with a 5-1 run and held on to win 15-11 and take the game in five sets.
For the Irish, Meuth and Niego led the team with 20 and 19 kills, respectively, while contributing 11 digs apiece. Nunez recorded 54 assists and Cruzado posted 17 digs in the effort. The loss now puts Notre Dame at 3-3 when a match goes to five sets.
With a four-game road trip now behind them, the Irish return to Purcell Pavilion for a rematch with Syracuse on Sunday at 1 p.m.