Irish volleyball plays well in weekend invitational in Austin
Observer Sports Staff | Monday, September 13, 2021
In its first road trip of the season, the Irish volleyball team traveled to Austin, Texas to take on Arizona and top-ranked Texas. The Irish ended up winning a thrilling five-set match against Arizona but lost to Texas in an exciting four-set match.
In the first set against Arizona, the Irish fell behind early by a score of 14-8 to the Wildcats. The Wildcats continued their early success over the next several points and held a 19-11 advantage in the first set. The Irish brought the set back, though, using a 5-0 run to bring the Irish within three of Arizona. The Irish used a 3-0 run late in the set to bring the score to 24-22, but Arizona would ultimately get the final point of the set to take the first set 25-22.
In the second set, the Wildcats yet again took an early lead at 7-4. The Irish were then able to earn eight of the next nine points to take a 12-8 advantage in the second set. The Wildcats would respond, however, and go on a run of their own to level the score at 13 apiece. The Irish were able to respond and seize the momentum at the end of the set to go on a 6-0 run and take a 19-13 lead. The Irish ultimately won the set 25-16.
In the third set, the Irish carried over their momentum from the first to take a commanding 14-8 lead midway through. The Irish didn’t look back and clinched the third by a score of 25-14.
The Wildcats were not about to go down without a fight, though, and they responded very well in the fourth set to easily take it 25-12 and force a decisive fifth set.
In the fifth set, it was the Irish who took an early lead, as they jumped out to a 5-1 lead to start. The Wildcats would respond, though, and bring the score to six apiece. The Irish were unfazed, and they went on a 5-1 run of their own to take an 11-7 lead and ultimately a 15-10 fifth set victory.
Senior Charley Niego recorded 18 kills and 11 digs in her 40th career double-double in the Irish victory.
The following day, the Irish faced off against the first-ranked Texas Longhorns. Although the Irish would ultimately lose the match in four sets, they challenged the top team in the country throughout the match and arguably played their best volleyball of the season so far.
In the first set, the Longhorns looked the part of the number one team in the country and dominated the Irish throughout. After grabbing a 13-6 lead, the Longhorns continued their dominance and won the set comfortably at 25-16.
It looked like the Longhorns were going to dominate the second set as well when they jumped out to an early 7-2 lead. The Irish took a timeout, and were able to find a groove and go on a 4-0 run to get the Irish within two at 9-7. The Irish then used a 4-0 run to take a 21-19 lead a few points later. The Irish would close the set with four straight points to win the second 25-20.
The Longhorns responded well in the third set to regain the lead in the match. Despite Notre Dame taking an early 9-7 advantage, the Longhorns used an 8-3 stretch to regain the lead and ultimately win the set with ease at 25-17.
The fourth set was an absolute thriller, but it did not go in favor of the Irish. The beginning of the set was closely matched and both teams ended up tied at 11 apiece. After some more back and forth play, the score ended up tied at 20 apiece. The Longhorns then got the score to 24-22 and earned a match point. The Irish didn’t go down without a fight, though, as they earned the next three points to go up 25-24. However, the Longhorns ultimately prevailed, and took the fourth frame 29-27 to win the match.
The Irish will be back in action next weekend against no. 4 Ohio State. They will play the Buckeyes at home on Friday, September 17th and then travel to Columbus for a game on Sunday, September 19th.