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Irish await road test versus No. 4 Louisville

Coming off a disheartening loss to ACC cellar-dwellers Virginia, Notre Dame volleyball faces a brutal test in their effort to bounce back. The Irish travel to Louisville to take on the fourth-ranked Cardinals on Wednesday evening. Louisville enters the game with a sparkling 18-2 record. Their only losses are to No. 6 Ohio State and No. 7 Pittsburgh. The latter loss came in a heartbreaking five-setter, as the Cardinals dropped their game with the ACC leaders.

Notre Dame enters the contest with a 4-6 record. They’re one result against Virginia from feeling like their season was fully on the upswing. After an 0-4 start to ACC play, the Irish bounced back with four straight wins. An expected loss to Pittsburgh dropped them to 4-5, but then Notre Dame meekly fell in straight sets to the Cavaliers. Instead of sitting in a tie for seventh, a game out of fourth place, the Irish are tied for tenth and searching for answers. They have two matchups with Louisville remaining which will likely not help their record.

The Cardinals are not infallible though. Both Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, a pair of teams the Irish beat a little over a week ago, claimed sets against Louisville. But, outside of the Pittsburgh loss, the Cardinals have dropped just three total sets in nine ACC wins. Claire Chaussee leads Louisville with 259 kills and teammate Aiko Jones is second with 182 kills and leads the squad with 27 service aces. That duo boasts hitting percentages of .310 and .403, respectively, contributing to a .302 team mark that ranks fourth in the country.

Notre Dame will need an otherworldly effort to topple Louisville on Wednesday. Graduate transfer middle blocker Kaylyn Winkler leads the Irish with 150 kills, and freshman outside hitter Lucy Trump follows right behind with 149. Winkler is the more efficient of the duo with a .251 hitting percentage. Junior libero Hattie Monson has been the heart and soul of the team; she is the linchpin of the Irish defense with 330 digs. On the attack, Monson’s 26 service aces lead the squad, and her 104 assists rank second.

Last year, in two contests versus Louisville, Notre Dame went 0-2, losing six of seven sets. Their last win against the Cardinals came in the 2020 season opener, on Sept. 25. Wednesday’s game will start at 8 p.m. at the KFC Yum! Center, and it will be broadcast on ACC Network.

Contact Aidan Thomas at athoma28@nd.edu

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