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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 fall to Blue Devils despite two set lead

The Notre Dame volleyball team dropped its fourth match in a row Sunday afternoon at Purcell Pavillion. Despite holding a commanding 2-0 lead after the first two sets, the Irish dropped a tightly-contested, five set match to Duke. 

The Irish were led by strong performances by freshman outside hitter Lucy Trump, who tallied 18 kills and three service aces, and sophomore setter Phyona Schrader who collected 40 assists. 

Notre Dame did not trail throughout the first set. It was back and forth early on, but the Irish quickly built a 15-11 lead and did not look back, eventually winning the set 25-19. Trump paced the team with five kills, and Schrader added 11 assists. 

The second set was more of the same for the Irish, who jumped out to a 9-5 lead courtesy of a kill from sophomore outside hitter Paris Thompson. The Blue Devils battled back to tie the set at 11, but Notre Dame pulled away, ultimately prevailing 25-17. The Irish capped off the victory with back-to-back aces by Trump and a Thompson kill for the final point. 

Duke storms back

It appeared as though the Irish would run away with the contest, but the Blue Devils came storming back in the third set of the afternoon. The set was tied early on at 10, but Duke scored eight of the subsequent 11 points, proving to be too much for Notre Dame to overcome. 

It still looked as though Notre Dame had the match in hand with a 2-1 lead, but Duke had swung the momentum of the match. The fourth set was a back-and-forth affair, with neither team building a solid lead until late in the set. The Irish led 13-11 and looked poised to put the match away, but Duke scored the next seven points and took the set, 25-16. 

The fifth and final set was all Duke. The Blue Devils jumped out to a 6-1 lead and never looked back. Notre Dame battled late but ended up dropping the set 15-8.  

The loss drops the Irish to 9-13, with a 4-8 record in conference play. They’ll have a chance to bounce back when they host North Carolina on Friday night, before taking on North Carolina State on Sunday afternoon. 

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Irish swept by Louisville ahead of clash with Duke

It is no secret that the Louisville Cardinals volleyball team is a force to be reckoned with in the ACC. The Cards have a near-perfect record and are ranked No. 4 in the AVCA Coaches Poll. On the heels of a 3-2 loss to the surging Pittsburgh Panthers, Louisville stepped right back into form Wednesday night against a downward-trending Notre Dame team. The Cardinals swept the Irish in three sets (25-10, 25-22, 25-14), bringing their record to 19-2 and dropping Notre Dame’s mark to 9-12.

A program-record crowd of 9,058 at the KFC Yum! Center was rowdy from the opening serve, as Louisville stormed out to an early advantage. They quickly built leads of 10-2 and 19-4 before wrapping up the first set at 25-10. The Irish generated some momentum late in the frame, but they fell by 15 in set one for the second time in three games.

Louisville, led by Amaya Tillman and Claire Chaussee (four kills each), hit .600 in the opening set. Graduate student middle blocker Kaylyn Winkler delivered back-to-back kills late for the Irish. But Notre Dame hit .000, with seven errors to neutralize their seven kills. Louisville was magnificent defensively, recording nine digs without making a single reception error.

The second set was a different story, as Notre Dame extended its rhythm from the end to the first, finding themselves in an early 6-6 tie. The Irish matched Louisville stride for stride, leading 9-8 and tying the game as late as the 19th point. Clinging to a mere 23-22 advantage, Louisville delivered the final verdict at the net, making consecutive blocks on Irish attacks to take the set 25-22.

Notre Dame continued to scuffle with a .047 hitting percentage, while sophomore outside hitter Paris Thompson provided four kills. But the Cardinals regressed significantly from set one. They hit only .122 with eight attack errors, as Notre Dame made 15 digs to Louisville’s 17. Racquel Lazaro again led the Cardinals with seven assists after 10 in set one, also contributing a team-high five digs. Junior libero Hattie Monson paced the Irish defensively with seven digs. Sophomore setter Phyona Schrader also added six assists.

Though the second set was a scare, Louisville quickly got back on track. Notre Dame kept it reasonably close, trailing 13-8 at one point. But the Cardinals consistently tallied two points for each one the Irish managed. Tillman finished off the visitors with three kills in the final five points, securing a 25-14 third-set victory and a Cards sweep. Louisville out-killed the Irish 16-6 and out-blocked them 4-1, posting a stellar .250 hitting percentage to Notre Dame’s -.024.

Tillman ended the set with seven kills, followed closely by Chaussee, who racked up six in both the second and third sets. Freshman outside hitter and Kentucky native Lucy Trump delivered four kills for the Irish, and Monson made eight more digs. Neither effort was enough for a Notre Dame team that has now lost nine consecutive sets.

Overall, Notre Dame hit just .009 with four blocks. Trump dished out a team-high seven kills, while Schrader and Thompson each had five. Schrader also led the team with 16 assists. Monson recorded a team-best 17 digs. Freshman libero Maisie Alexander contributed eight, one shy of a career-high.

Louisville hit .266 on the night with 12 blocks, as Chaussee and Tillman combined for 28 kills and 33 points. Tillman, the ACC leader in blocks, totaled two solo shutdowns and six assisted denials. Lazaro also amassed 30 assists, as the Cardinals extended their home win streak to seven games. Notre Dame and Louisville will meet again in South Bend on Nov. 23.

Next up: Irish host Duke

Interestingly enough, Notre Dame’s next opponent, the Duke Blue Devils, must also face the Cardinals in Louisville Friday evening. Duke is 12-9 this season with a 3-7 conference record, sitting just half a game behind Notre Dame at 11th in the ACC. The Blue Devils are coming off a four-game homestand which ended in a 3-1 loss to North Carolina, dropping Duke’s home record to 10-3.

Now, the Blue Devils enter a four-game swing on the road, where they have gone just 1-5 this season. The Irish are looking to stop the skid on an upcoming four-game home set. Since beginning ACC play, Notre Dame has embarked on a four-game losing streak, a three-game winning streak and now an active three-game losing streak.

Duke, coached by all-time program wins leader Jolene Nagel, is hitting .195 this season. Gracie Johnson has spearheaded the Blue Devil attack, ranking second in the ACC with 4.27 kills per set while hitting at a .205 clip. She has finished among the team’s top three in kills during each of her three full seasons at Duke. Lizzie Fleming and Kerry Keefe have also been efficient, posting at least two kills per set and hitting percentages north of .300.

UCLA transfer Devon Chang has orchestrated the offense, placing third in the ACC with 10.18 assists per set. Nikki Underwood leads the group in digs with 3.46 per set (min. 30 sets played), while Rylie Kadel has posted 1.15 blocks per set.

Notre Dame, coached by newcomer Salima Rockwell, is hitting .178 as a team and showcases a much more balanced attack than Duke. Though the Irish have three players with over two kills per set, none of them are hitting better than .200 and not a single member of the team is above .290. Schrader leads the team with 7.94 assists per set and has racked up as many as 54 in a game this year. Monson is still among the ACC’s top-five in digs per set (4.28), steadying a youthful Irish bunch.

The ACC matchup will take place at 1:00 p.m. ET this Sunday. The game is available on ACC Network Extra.

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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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Irish sweep Bulldog Brawl with wins over Central Michigan, Ohio

Notre Dame volleyball played two games this weekend at the Bulldog Brawl in Indianapolis, winning both to move to 5-5 on the season. In game 1 on Friday, the Irish beat Central Michigan in straight sets before downing Ohio in four sets on Saturday.

Game 1: Central Michigan Chippewas

The weekend got off to a strong start with a dominant first set against the Chippewas. The Irish had an early 7-0 run to take a commanding 12-3 lead early in the set. From there, they coasted to take the opening frame 25-12 winning the final point on a combined block from two grad students, middle blocker Kaylyn Winkler and outside hitter Clare Delaplane.

The second set seemed like a repeat of the first with Notre Dame taking a 12-6 lead and forcing a CMU timeout. After the break, the Chippewas came out battling to make it a two-point set at 14-12. Notre Dame was able to respond going on a run of their own and extending their lead, eventually sealing the 25-19 set victory.

In the third set, the Irish found themselves in an early 0-3 hole that was first deficit of the game. It didn’t last long though with freshman libero Maisie Alexander coming in to serve and leading the Irish on a 7-0 run to retake the lead. The team was able to protect that lead for the rest of the set, keeping the Chippewas at arm’s length to win 25-21 and take the match.

Sophomore setter Phyona Schrader led the way offensively for the Irish with 23 assists and five kills in the game. Freshman outside hitter Lucy Trump joined Winkler with 8 kills in the game to lead Notre Dame in that category.

Game 2: Ohio Bobcats

The second game saw the Irish face more adversity against the Bobcats, with a tight opening set that was tied at 9-9 as the teams traded blows. Notre Dame was able to separate thereafter, taking a 15-11 lead and forcing an Ohio timeout. The Bobcats rallied and tied the set at 22 before a Trump kill gave the Irish a lead they wouldn’t relinquish as they held on to win the set 25-23.

Notre Dame stormed out to an 8-1 lead in the second set but a service error from Schrader opened the door for the Bobcats who came back to tie it at 10. The set was closely contested throughout until Ohio’s Caroline Clippard broke the 21-21 tie to get serve back for her team and force the Irish to regroup. It seemed it might’ve worked as two kills from freshman outside hitter Avery Ross kept the Irish in it at 24-23. It wasn’t to be though as Ohio’s Olivia Margolies shut the door on Notre Dame to claim the second set for the Bobcats.

The third set was a similar story with a closely contested frame that saw the two teams tied at 17-17 before Notre Dame put their stamp on it. An 8-4 run from the Irish closed out the set with junior middle blocker Lauren Tarnoff hammering home the final point in a 25-21 set victory.

 The final set was close early on, but Notre Dame quickly put some distance between the two teams to finish off the game. The Irish finished the game on an 18-8 run, beating the Bobcats 25-15 in the final set. Trump and Tarnoff led the Irish in kills against Ohio with 13 and 10, respectively. Phyona Schrader rounded out a good performance with 35 assists and two service aces, including one in the deciding final set.

After a difficult start to head coach Salima Rockwell’s tenure, the Irish have turned it around winning four of their last five to get back to .500. The two games this weekend were Notre Dame’s final non-conference matchups ahead of their ACC opener on the road against Florida State on Friday.

Contact José at jsanch24@nd.edu

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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.