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Irish end first year of Rockwell Era with win

While year one of the Salima Rockwell era hit some bumps along the road, the Notre Dame volleyball squad finished on a high note Friday. They took down Virginia Tech in four sets to finish their season at 10-18 overall and 5-13 in ACC play. The Irish won the first two sets with relative ease, 25-14 and 25-20. After a tight third-set loss, Notre Dame rebounded to win the final set 25-22, clinching their 10th win of the season. 

The win ended a nine-game skid and avoided a last-place finish in the conference. Freshman outside hitter Lucy Trump dominated with 16 kills and a strong .312 hitting percentage. She also notched five service aces. Graduate student middle blocker Kaylyn Winkler added 13 kills and a .400 hitting percentage. Junior libero Hattie Monson and sophomore setter Phyona Schrader tied for the team lead with 18 digs apiece, and Schrader added 42 assists and a pair of aces. 

The Irish rarely missed in the first set, racking up 14 kills to just one attacking error. They never trailed in the set, with the last tie being at 5-5. Then, junior middle blocker Lauren Tarnoff delivered a kill off of a Schrader set. Tarnoff followed the kill with a service ace, sparking a 5-0 run to attain a 10-5 advantage. She and Trump led the team with four first-set kills. Sophomore outside hitter Paris Thompson and Tarnoff later notched consecutive kills to kick off a 9-1 run, a stretch including two service aces from senior libero Nancy Kane. Winkler punched home the winning point with an authoritative kill to take the 25-14 victory. 

Notre Dame led wire-to-wire in the second set, trailing early at 1-0 and 2-1 before seizing the advantage. A 6-1 run, keyed by two Schrader kills, broke open a 3-3 tie. The Irish stretched the lead to as large as 14-7, but the Hokies didn’t go away. They clawed back within two at 17-15, then got as close as a point at 20-19. Winkler stepped up in a big way when she teamed up with freshman outside hitter Avery Ross for a block, then delivered a kill and block of her own. That set the stage for Thompson to put away the set with a kill. Winkler, Trump and Thompson notched three kills each in the set. 

Virginia Tech stayed alive in the third set and led comfortably most of the way. A late Irish surge put the result in doubt briefly, but the Hokies prevailed. Down 23-16, Notre Dame reeled off seven straight points to knot the score. Three Winkler kills sparked the rally, but the Hokies regrouped and claimed the final two points for a 25-23 lead. 

The Hokies led throughout the fourth set, seeking to push the season finale to a fifth and decisive set. An Irish service error brought the score to 19-15. But, Ross promptly smashed home two kills, and Winkler added one of her own. After a Virginia Tech point broke up the run, the Irish added five more points. Schrader notched a kill, and a pair of Hokie attack errors gave Notre Dame the lead. Trump extended the lead with two kills, pushing the score to 23-20. A pair of Winkler kills allowed the Irish to hold serve and secure the victory, 25-22. 

While the Irish took a slight step back in the standings, the dip was relatively expected after the Irish lost a majority of their lineup to graduation or transfer last season. This year, the main Irish rotation of contributors included a host of newer or younger players. Of 11 players that played at least 50 sets this season for the Irish, there were four freshmen, two sophomores and a graduate transfer in Winkler. Besides Winkler, the Irish only have one other major senior contributor, so they’ll return plenty of production and look to step back into the ACC and national picture in 2023.

Contact Aidan Thomas at athoma28@nd.edu.

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Irish fall 3-2 at home against Seminoles

The Irish have failed to break their losing streak, which stretched to seven games as they fell 3-2 on Friday against Florida State. Despite the result, this was a promising game for the Irish as it was the first time they made it to five sets since their 3-2 battle against Duke on Oct. 30.

The first set opened up evenly. While the Seminoles were originally up, the Irish were able to take the lead multiple times. Freshman outside hitter Lucy Trump had a kill that would bring the Irish up 10-9. The Irish lead, however, would not last long. The Seminoles were able to quickly regain the lead, pulling away to win the match 25-18. 

The Irish would open up the second set hot. A Florida State error granted the Irish with the first point. Trump, with some more Seminole errors, would bring the Irish to a 7-3 lead and force a Florida State time-out. After the break, Florida State scored a point. But a kill from freshman outside hitter Avery Ross kept them from going on a run. After key plays from several sources, Notre Dame took a 20-15 lead before going on a 5-1 run to close the door. Notre Dame had 18 kills to Florida State’s nine kills in the set, with Trump accounting for half of Notre Dame’s.

While the Seminoles won the first point in the third set, kills from junior middle blocker Lauren Tarnoff and a Trump ace would bring the Irish briefly gave the Irish the lead. The teams went back and forth for the first 16 points of the set. Eventually, the Seminoles took control, stretching their advantage to 16-10. On the strength of a series of late kills, Florida State took the third set 25-16.

Not willing to lose without a fight, the Irish began the fourth set with a 5-0 run. Three of those points were kills from graduate student outside hitter Clare Delaplane. Florida State was eventually able to get within one point, but would not get closer the entire set. On the strength of a 14-10 edge in kills, the Irish were able to beat the Seminoles 25-16.

The Irish, however, were unable to continue this momentum into the fifth set. The final set of the night saw nine tie scores and two lead changes, the most of any other set of the night. Notre Dame started with a 4-2 lead, but a Seminole run would allow them to steal the lead. With kills from Delaplane and Tarnoff, the Irish were able to tie it at 10-10. However, a 5-0 run from the Seminoles would give them the match. 

Even though the Irish fell, this was a major improvement from their previous matches. Once again, Trump led the Irish with 17 kills. Many of these were assisted by sophomore setter Phyona Schrader, who had a total of 39 assists on the night.

The Irish hope to use what they learned against Florida State in their rematch against NC State. The Irish played them last week, losing 3-1 at home.

Notre Dame will face off against the Wolfpack on Saturday in Raleigh, North Carolina, at 5 p.m. EST.

Contact Olivia Schatz at oschatz@nd.edu.

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Irish seek to snap skid vs. Seminoles

Notre Dame volleyball faces Florida State this Friday at Purcell Pavilion. The Irish are looking to snap their six-game losing streak and improve their conference record.

Notre Dame has struggled in ACC play so far this season. The team is currently 4-10 in the ACC and lost its past six games in a row. By comparison, Florida State is 8-6 in the ACC, including three losses to ranked teams. The Seminoles also beat Notre Dame 3-0 earlier this season.

The last time the Irish and the Seminoles faced off, the Irish lost in three sets by an average of almost seven points per set. Notre Dame was led by graduate student outside hitter Clare Delaplane, who tallied nine kills. Freshman outside hitter Avery Ross tallied six. By comparison, Sydney Conley and sophomore Audrey Koenig led the Seminoles with 11 and 10 kills, respectively.

Ross is currently leading Notre Dame in kills, averaging 2.55 per set for a total of 191. She is followed by fellow freshman outside hitter Lucy Trump, who is averaging 2.52 kills per set for a total of 156. Trump’s performance in this upcoming match will be crucial in helping Notre Dame earn a more positive result this match.

At this point in the season, the Irish are no longer capable of finishing the season with a winning record overall or in the ACC. Consequently, the Irish will not qualify for the NCAA tournament this year, sitting 139th in the RPI rankings. The goal for the rest of the season is to finish strong and finish out the season with the best record possible. Rockwell and the Irish will seek a win against Florida State to help achieve this goal.

The Irish play the Seminoles at Purcell Pavilion this Friday at 6:30 p.m.

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Irish look to break losing streak at home against UNC

After a 3-2 loss to Duke at home, the Notre Dame volleyball team is back in action at home on Friday against North Carolina. 

The Irish have had a shaky season under the reigns of new head coach Salima Rockwell. Currently, Notre Dame has a 9-13 record, with a 3-5 mark at home. The Irish were looking good with a four-game win streak against Syracuse, Boston College, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech, only to lose their next four games. 

Although they ultimately lost to Duke, the Irish put up a fight. In the first match, the Irish were able to pull ahead with a 15-10 lead, only for the Blue Devils to catch up. However, the Irish were able to finish the set and give them some momentum to finish the match. Again, in the second match the Irish were able to keep a steady lead, and a final kill from sophomore outside hitter Paris Thompson would give the Irish their second set. 

However, the Irish were unable to do it again. While they were able to stay closely behind Duke, the Irish fell in the third match. The fourth set would see the score go back and forth, but again Duke would take the set. And finally, the Irish steam was out, and Duke was able to win the fifth set, and the match. 

Despite their record, the Irish squad is stacked with talent, they just struggle to execute. Freshman outside hitter Avery Ross leads the team with 192 kills, followed by freshman outside hitter Lucy Trump (174) and graduate student outside hitter Kaylyn Winkler (154). Six members of the team have over 100 kills on the season. 

On the defensive end, junior libero Hattie Monson has 347 digs on the season and is a crucial backbone to the Irish defense. While there is no other Irish who comes close to Monson’s dig game, Trump and freshman libero Cailey Dockery also have an impressive defensive resume. 

There is certainly talent on Rockwell’s squad, but since the start of the season, the Irish have yet to really click. While the Irish have not defeated any ranked teams, they have shown their worth through their stats and season wins. However, if they hope to break their losing streak they must buckle down, especially on defense. 

The Irish’s next match is not any easier. UNC has a 14-9 record with a 6-4 record on the road. Three Tar Heel players have over 200 kills on the season, the leader being Mabrey Shaffmaster with 328 kills, averaging 3.95 per set. For the record, no Irish player breaks 2. Shaffmaster also has an impressive resume; last year she won 2021 ACC Freshman of the Year and made 2021 All-ACC second and freshman teams. Last year as a freshman, Shaffmaster had a total of 389 kills, the most of any ACC freshman, and the sixth most across the conference. And while Monson outdoes any Tar Heel player with digs, UNC has three players with over 200 digs on their team as well. 

The Tar Heels also do not have a ranked win on their schedule, but they were able to win one set against the No. 7 Pittsburgh, a feat that Notre Dame was unable to accomplish. However, the Tar Heels also lost a 2-3 home match against Syracuse. 

UNC is not a ranked opponent, but they are an impressive team. And unlike the Irish, the Tar Heels have many more jacks of all trades. 

Throughout the season, Rockwell has switched up her rotation to try to find the perfect blend. While many players, such as Trump, Ross and Monson, have been stable, others like Thompson have not always seen the court. 

The Irish look to break their losing streak against North Carolina at home on Friday, Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m. EST. 

Contact Olivia Schatz at oschatz@nd.edu

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Irish volleyball drop two more ACC matches in return to Purcell

After winning four of five to close their nonconference slate, Notre Dame volleyball’s momentum has come to a grinding halt. Despite returning home for the first time in over a month, the Irish couldn’t put together a win, dropping two more ACC matches. Notre Dame is now 0-4 in conference play. This weekend, No. 13 Georgia Tech dispatched the Irish, followed by Clemson. The latter was a five-set battle, marking the second five-set defeat for the Irish in conference play.

In Friday night’s game versus the Yellow Jackets, efficiency was the name of the game. The Irish only made three service errors and zero reception errors, tying and outclassing Georgia Tech in both categories. However, while the Yellow Jackets notched 55 kills with a .261 hitting percentage, the Irish posted just a .110 mark and 31 kills. Graduate student transfer Kaylyn Winkler notched eight kills, as did sophomore outside hitter Paris Thompson.

In the first two sets, the Irish only led once, at 1-0 in the first set. From there, the Yellow Jackets (10-2, 3-0 ACC) ripped off five straight points to take control. Then, up 11-5, Georgia Tech blitzed the Irish for another 5-0 run, seizing control at 16-5. They ballooned the advantage to 22-8 and closed out the set comfortably, 25-13.

The second set was more competitive, but the Irish never obtained a lead. Notre Dame kept things closer in the early going, trailing 8-7, but Georgia Tech gradually pulled away. They notched six of the next seven points to grab the momentum and rode that wave to a 20-14 advantage. Notre Dame flashed some resiliency, as a Thompson kill kickstarted a five-point streak, closing the deficit to a single point. From there, however, the teams traded off points, neither squad able to retain their serve. The Irish never surfaced from the deficit, dropping the second set, 25-23.

The third set was largely controlled by the Yellow Jackets. They took the lead early and kept the Irish at bay in the first half. Then, up 13-12, they won nine of the next 11 points to ice the match. The Irish didn’t get closer than five points and lost, 25-19.

Irish can’t finish off fifth set

On Sunday, Notre Dame played a sloppier game, but they were also more dynamic offensively, which gave them a chance down the stretch. Thompson led the way with 16 kills, while freshman outside hitter Avery Ross claimed 14 of her own. However, the Irish also made a total of 14 service and reception errors, which allowed Clemson to edge the Irish in the five-set contest.

The Irish never led in the first set, as Clemson ran off eight straight points to claim a 17-9 advantage. They had no issues in closing out a 25-17 win from there, taking the early 1-0 lead. Then, down 12-3 in the second set, Notre Dame looked primed to go down quickly once more, but this time, the Irish responded. Following a timeout, Notre Dame clawed back into the set. Although they didn’t rip off any extended runs, a gradual 14-6 spurt tied the set at 18-18. After trading points, the Irish buried the Tigers with six straight points. Freshman defensive specialist Maisie Alexander delivered three aces in the second set to lead the way, while Thompson and Ross combined for seven kills.

In the critical third set, the Irish and Tigers were locked in a 14-14 tie. But after Clemson nudged ahead with three straight points, Notre Dame couldn’t quite get back even. They closed within one at 18-17 and 19-18, but Clemson closed with a 5-2 run to win, 25-20. The Irish blew an early 13-9 advantage in the fourth set, but they rallied. Deadlocked at 17 points apiece, the Irish rode a wave of excellent service by junior libero Hattie Monson to five straight points and a 22-17 advantage. Sophomore setter Phyona Schrader came up big in the final few points, notching an assist, kill and block on the final three Irish points to force a fifth set.

There, the marathon turned into a sprint to 15 points. Clemson was the first to gain momentum, tallying four straight points to take a 9-5 lead. Notre Dame got a point back here and there, closing to 12-11. But they couldn’t find the last service break they needed and traded off the final few points, losing 15-13 in the fifth set.

Notre Dame falls to 0-4 in ACC play, last in the conference. They will look to start stacking wins next weekend, but it starts against Syracuse, who is 4-0 in ACC play. They play the Orange on Friday and complete the road trip at Boston College (13-5, 1-3) on Sunday.

Contact Aidan Thomas at athomas28@nd.edu

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Rockwell, Monson lead Irish into ACC play

Notre Dame volleyball’s head coach Salima Rockwell came onto campus with a rocky start. The Irish opened up the season 0-2 against Texas Tech and Mississippi State before winning in the fifth set against Milwaukee. The Irish then traveled to the Long Beach State Tournament where they also went 0-2 on the weekend. This would be the start of a nine-game road streak. 

Since the Long Beach State Tournament, however, the Irish have shifted their luck. The Irish went 1-4 for the first five games of the season, and 4-1 in the latter five. 

“I think at first it was a lot of experiments, we were just trying to figure out a good lineup,” Rockwell said. “What was going to work for us? What combination of players can execute best on the court? But, you know, the big thing we talked about in our gym is minimizing errors, and then just trying to maximize what we do well. And I think that’s probably our biggest area of growth is getting better at little things, eliminating some of those errors that maybe we were doing early on. We’re not seeing quite as much right now.”

The Irish have gotten cleaner in their game. In the first two games of the season, the Irish had 67 kills to their opponent’s 102. In the most recent two games, the margin is 89-77 in favor of the Irish.

“Not to be cheesy but whether you win or not, you want to just play better and better with every match every weekend. And that’s what we did,” Rockwell said. “It was fun to see our upside get a little higher, and we know where we could be if we sustain a level of execution and play. So we’re definitely gonna use that momentum going into this weekend to kind of continue to build on what we’ve already got.”

A major component in the shift of the team’s dynamic was the Irish finally meshing and becoming comfortable with one another. In addition to a brand new coaching staff, the Irish welcomed six freshmen onto the team, including outside hitter Avery Ross, as well as three graduate student transfers. With the influx of new members, there is always a transition time needed. However, with the new players, there were returning ones willing to put in the work to guarantee a successful season. 

“It definitely had its ups and downs for sure, playing with all new people around you is definitely something you need to get used to and it definitely puts you back into your freshman state,” junior libero Hattie Monson said. “As the weeks have gone on, especially the grad players and the core seven of us who have stayed, we’ve done a really good job of helping the freshman stay comfortable. As the weeks go on, it’s great to see their progress as they are trusting us more and more and just everyone trusting each other.” 

The Irish squad will need to be trusting in one another as they look toward their packed schedule ahead of them. Notre Dame starts off their ACC run on Friday against Florida State. Though the Seminoles aren’t ranked, they have an 8-3-0 record. 

Additionally, the ACC is not an easy conference for volleyball as three teams are ranked in the NCAA top 15: Louisville (2), Pittsburgh (10) and Georgia Tech (13).

While the Irish are surely getting more comfortable with each other, they still need to perform well for anything to count. In the ACC, the Irish are ranked last in kills per set, and 13th in opponent’s kills per set. 

While the team stats are not as good as they would have hoped, there are multiple Irish players ranked with impressive stats. Junior middle blocker Lauren Tarnoff is currently ranked fourth in the ACC for hitting percentage, followed by graduate student middle blocker Kaylyn Winkler at 8th with .364. 

On the defensive side, Monson is ranked second in the ACC with 4.43 digs per set.

“Hattie Monson. I wouldn’t trade her for any libero in the country,” Rockwell said. “She’s a bright spot. In the gym, she’s a joy to be around. And she’s tough as nails. And that’s that combination. You don’t get that every day and it’s so fun to be able to push her; she wants to be pushed. She wants to be better. And she challenges herself every day.” 

With Florida State on the horizon and the daunting task of playing No. 13 Georgia Tech in the near future, Rockwell and the Irish squad will be working hard to prepare for conference play. 

“One game at a time and one foot in front of the other,” Rockwell said. 

The Irish open up conference play on the road in Tallahassee, Fla. Notre Dame will play Florida State on Sept. 23 starting at 6:30 p.m. EDT.

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Notre Dame volleyball looks to improve record at Bulldog Brawl

The Notre Dame volleyball team has started off on a rocky start with a 3-5 record on the season. The Irish lost two at home games to Texas Tech and Mississippi State before declaring their first win under head coach Salima Rockwell against Milwaukee. Their luck did not continue on the road, however, as the Irish squad has since had a record of 2-3. The Irish have four more games on the road before returning to Purcell Pavilion on Sept. 30 to play No. 7 Georgia Tech. 

The Irish have a long road ahead before they can return home, their first stop being the 2022 Bulldog Brawl in Indianapolis where they will play Central Michigan and Ohio. Both teams, just as the Irish, are unranked and are looking to establish themselves as serious contenders. 

While Central Michigan does have a better record (6-3) than Notre Dame, they have not faced the same level of competition. Ohio also faces similar stats, with a 5-3 lead going into the weekend.

Despite Notre Dame’s record, the Irish still host a team that should not be underestimated. The Irish have 388 kills on the season, with freshman outside hitter Avery Ross currently leading the Irish with 95. She is followed by fellow freshman outside hitter Lucy Trump with 89. Trump is also tied with junior libero Hattie Monson with 12 aces on the season. While there have certainly been off games for the Irish, Trump, Monson and Ross — together with the rest of the squad — are offensive competitors. 

On the defensive side, Monson leads the team with 136 digs on the season, and 846 digs total with the Irish. She is followed by Trump who holds 59 digs.

Despite the team’s success on both offense and defense, they must bring their A-game if they hope to finish out their road trip with more wins than losses. 

Central Michigan has a whopping 404 kills on the season, their leader being Mallory Hernandez with 122 kills. Also, defensively, Central Michigan spreads out their stats significantly more than the Irish do. While the Irish have a clear frontrunner on defense with Monson, there are multiple Central Michigan players who are contenders on defense. While Aly Gurtiza holds the season high with 161 digs, three other Central Michigan players record above 60 digs on the season. Their team is able to get under the ball and ensure a return. Notre Dame must be prepared for longer rallys, and expect a return on every point. In addition, Central Michigan’s Kamryn Olson has an ace percentage of .53. Overall, Central Michigan boasts a wide variety of players, and will surely put up a fight on Sept. 16. 

The Irish will then play Ohio on the 17th. For this season, Ohio holds the least amount of kills with only 367. Also unlike the other two schools, Ohio does not have a clear frontrunner in the offensive category. Rather, their kill count is divided amongst four players. Defensively, however, Sam Steele is the leader with 138 digs, followed by Olivia Margolies with 72. The Bobcats, just as Central Michigan and Notre Dame, have a stable and talented squad who will come prepared to fight this weekend.

The Irish will hope to take two victories on the road when they head to Florida to play Florida State and UMiami on the 23 and 25 respectively. These will be the last leg of Notre Dame’s road games before returning to South Bend to play their first ranked team of the season. The Irish will look to increase their record, and bring momentum through the next few weeks. 

Notre Dame plays Central Michigan in Indianapolis on Sept. 16 at 3 p.m. EST. The Irish will then play Ohio the following day at the same time. Live stats will be available. 

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ND Volleyball posts mixed bag in weekend tournament

After finishing 0-2 in the Long Beach State Tournament in the first road trip of the 2022 season, Notre Dame volleyball traveled to Norfolk, Virginia this weekend for the Quest for the Crown Tournament. The Fighting Irish picked up two hard-fought wins against East Caroline and Old Dominion on Friday but dropped a match to Navy on Saturday to make it to 3-5 on the year. It was the first time in program history that Notre Dame had played each of these teams.

Notre Dame tipped off against the East Carolina University on noon on Friday. After losing the first two sets, the Irish went on take down the Pirates in the final three sets. ECU would go on two finish their weekend with a 3-1 win against Navy and a 3-0 shutout of Old Dominion.

In the first set vs. the Pirates, the Irish made a late comeback thanks to the efforts of graduate student blocker Kaylyn Winkler and junior libero Hattie Monson but ultimately fell short of success, losing 25-23. The second set saw 17 ties. The final one came at the score of 23-23, but ECU ended up prevailing to take a 2-0 set lead over the Irish. After jumping out to a 17-12 lead in the third set, the Irish were able to secure a set victory with their backs to the wall because of Pirate errors and two late kills by freshman hitter Lucy Trump. ECU played a close game in set four, but the Irish were able to run a with it thereafter, wining the final two sets to pick up their second win of the 2022 season.

Notre Dame was led offensively by freshman hitter Avery Ross who tallied 14 kills and sophomore setter Phyona Schrader recorded a career high 54 assists. As a team, the Fighting Irish racked up 66 kills, 64 assists and 60 digs.

Later Friday evening, the Irish went on to defeat tournament host Old Dominion in five sets. The Monarchs were 3-4 on the season before facing the Irish.

In set one, the Irish trailed at times by a margin of 12-4 and 23-9, eventually falling by a score of 25-14. The Irish jumped back out in the second set, expanding a 16-11 lead to a 23-15 advantage thanks to kills from Ross and Winkler. The Irish would go on to close out the set to tie up the match at 1-1 heading into the third set. Fending off a late run by the Monarchs which brought the score to 23-20, kill and ace efforts by Winkler and Schrader respectively secured the third for the Irish. Old Dominion did not back down, taking the fourth set to force Notre Dame battle in their second fifth set of the day. The Monarchs came close to closing the gap and 12-11, but the Irish came alive with their second match triumph of the day in gratitude to back-to-back kills via Winkler.

Winkler finished the game with 16 kills and five blocks with graduate student hitter Clare Delaplane close behind with 14 kills and 2 blocks. Ross picked up a lucky 13 kills, and Schrader added another 44 stately assists.

The Irish fell on Saturday in their final game of the weekend tournament to Navy’s Midshipmen in four sets in an attempt to battle back to an even-win loss record on the season. At the end of the match, Schrader led the team with 31 assists, Trump led the way with 14 kills and Monson punched in 13 digs.

Navy jumped out to win the first set by an unlucky 13 points. A late block from Schrader and Winkler helped lift the Irish to a 27-25 win in the second set. A 7-1 run by Navy to extend an early lead of 12-7 to 19-8 helped the Midshipmen push past the Irish in set three. In the fourth and final set, an ace by freshman libero Maisie Alexander gave Notre Dame a late 25-24 advantage. However, two subsequent kills by Navy and a service error from the Notre Dame ended Irish’s hope to win out the match up and sweep all three weekend games of tournament play.

Hopefully drawing on the positive momentum built toughly by the Irish this weekend in Virginia, Notre Dame will head to Indianapolis next weekend for the 2022 Bulldog Brawl. Friday at 3 p.m., Notre Dame will take on the Central Michigan Chippewas. On Saturday, the Irish will then match up against the Ohio University Bobcats, also at 3 p.m.

Contact Peter Breen at pbreen2@nd.edu.

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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