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Irish open season with road sweep of Cardinals

| Monday, September 28, 2020

The Notre Dame volleyball team opened their season with a sweep in three sets of the Louisville Cardinals on Friday afternoon at L&N Federal Credit Union Arena. The match scheduled for Saturday was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.

Junior outside hitter Charley Niego and sophomore outside hitter Caroline Meuth were a strong presence at the net, leading the Irish offense with 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Freshman libero Hattie Monson marked Irish debut with a team-best 20 digs and three aces. Freshmen outside hitter Aubrey Hamilton and middle blocker Lindsey Miller also posted strong numbers in their first collegiate games; Hamilton had eight kills, and Miller had a .385 hitting percentage while adding seven kills.

Emma Farnan | The Observer
Former Irish libero Madison Cruzado bumps the ball during Notre Dame’s 3-1 victory over Syracuse on Nov. 17 at Purcell Pavilion.

The Cardinals (0-1, 0-1 ACC) started strong, jumping out to a 7-2 lead behind five straight points in the first set. They reached an 11-5 advantage and forced Notre Dame (1-0, 1-0 ACC) to take a timeout. The Irish played catch-up throughout the set, cutting the deficit to two with a 22-20 score.

Four consecutive points put them on the verge of victory, up 25-24, and they ended up winning 27-25. The Irish were propelled to victory by winning nine of the last 12 points of the set.

The visitors kept up the momentum going into the second set, and the beginning was the inverse of the previous set, as Louisville was chasing Notre Dame for much of the set. Monson hit three straight aces to propel her team to a 9-2 lead, and the Irish stayed consistent by pushing the score to 16-8.

The Cardinals went on a run of their own after a timeout, cutting their deficit to two, with the score at 18-16. The teams traded pairs of wins, and Niego hit two straight kills to put her team up 23-19. A Mueth kill sealed the victory for Notre Dame, 25-22.

The third frame was also a back-and-forth affair; the home team jumped to a 4-1 lead, but Notre Dame responded with a 7-1 run and was up 9-5. The Irish won four straight, but the Cardinals claimed 10 of the next 11 points and took a 16-15 lead. After an 18-18 lockup, both teams scored three consecutive points to even the score once again at 21. Tied again at 24-24, the Irish were able to string together back-to-back kills from the freshmen Miller and Hamilton to complete the sweep, 26-24. Both teams had a sloppy set; the Irish committed 10 errors, and the Cardinals had nine.

The stats sheet showed an even matchup, with Louisville and Notre Dame achieving similar numbers of points (53-56), kills (44-41), blocks (7-8), assists (41-38), and digs (50-45).

The teams were due for a second matchup on Saturday, but Friday night the team announced that the second match had been postponed due to “COVID-19 issues.”

The Irish are scheduled for two home games against Syracuse this weekend. Friday’s game starts at 7 p.m., and Saturday’s is set for 6 p.m. Both will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.

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