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Irish volleyball drop two in fruitless West Coast trip

After picking up her first collegiate head coaching win last weekend, Salima Rockwell must wait another weekend to find her second. The Notre Dame volleyball squad traveled west but dropped a pair of games, losing to Boise State and Long Beach State in successive nights. The Boise State clash was a four-setter, while the latter was a straight sets loss.

Against Boise State, the Irish split the first two sets with the Broncos. After dropping the opener 25-18, the Irish dominated the second set by a 25-13 scoreline. Graduate students Kaylyn Winkler and Maddie Waumans each delivered three kills in the early going of the second set to get the Irish back on even footing. 

The third set was a contested battle, with the margin rarely growing larger than a point or two through most of it. However, trailing 17-15, Notre Dame surrendered four straight points. That gave Boise State breathing room, and the Broncos closed the third set out with relative ease. A slow start saw Rockwell’s squad fighting from behind throughout set four. Despite closing an initial 8-3 deficit to 9-8, Notre Dame couldn’t maintain that momentum. Boise State closed out the match with a 25-18 victory. 

Notre Dame’s freshman duo of Avery Ross and Lucy Trump continued their strong rookie campaigns, delivering 12 and 13 kills, respectively. Junior libero Hattie Monson recorded 16 digs. The Irish actually boasted a better hitting percentage than the Broncos (.268 compared to .258). However, they also struggled with service, racking up 18 service errors, which became a decisive separator. 

In the second clash of the weekend, Notre Dame dropped a straight sets decision that was far closer than the 3-0 scoreline indicated. Each set was extremely tight, and the final score finished at 21-25, 23-25, 23-25. Both teams played extremely well defensively, with Notre Dame posting a .071 hitting percentage, largely created by Long Beach State’s stellar .984 receiving percentage. The Beach only slightly bettered the Irish’s hitting percentage, with a .152 mark. The Irish never led in the first set. After battling to an 8-8 tie, the Beach strung together a quartet of points to gain some separation. Notre Dame charged hard but could never even the score, drawing as close as 22-20. In the second set, Notre Dame had to battle from behind again, trailing 6-1 and 12-6. Finally, the Irish ripped off four straight points to close their deficit to 15-13, and then chipped the deficit down to 21-20. They came within a single point one more time, at 24-23, but Long Beach State delivered the clinching blow to take a 2-0 set lead. 

More slow starts doomed the Irish in their final set of the weekend. The Beach steadily pulled away early, garnering a 14-8 advantage. Notre Dame closed to two at 15-13. They again brought the score to 24-23, but once more, they couldn’t extend the set. The Beach closed out the straight sets victory. 

Notre Dame never led in the contest, but kept each set competitive. Trump again led the away, punctuating a strong weekend with 12 kills. Ross added seven. Monson’s 22 digs led the Irish. Notre Dame stays on the road next weekend, playing three games in the 2022 Quest for the Crown. They’ll play East Carolina and Old Dominion in a Friday doubleheader. They’ll wrap up their weekend in Norfolk, Virginia by clashing with the Navy Midshipmen on Saturday. 

Aidan Thomas

Contact Aidan at athoma28@nd.edu

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