Sept. 21, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. – It was understandable that the University of Notre Dame volleyball team looked a little sleepy in the first set against North Dakota State Saturday morning after arriving in Lawrence, Kan., at 9 p.m. (CT) Friday and then heading to the arena at 8 a.m. (CT) Saturday for serve and pass before the 9:30 a.m. (CT) match. However, the Irish woke up in the second frame and claimed the final three sets to top the Bison, 3-1 (21-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-12), at the Horesji Center on the campus of Kansas University.
North Dakota State (0-11) came into the match looking for its first win of the season, and the scrappy and energetic squad gave the Irish all they could handle early, taking the first set, 25-21, and then leading the second set as late as 10-9.
“They had a more energy than us to start the match and we let them take over the first set especially,” said senior right side hitter Sammie Brown. “They were getting really excited about every point and when we scored a point we didn’t have the same energy level. It was really hard to get in a rhythm because our serving and passing wasn’t as aggressive as we like. We were back on our heels that first set, but we did a nice job of regrouping in the second set to come back and win it.”
Brown refused to let her team start the Kansas Invitational off on the wrong foot as she turned in an impressive all-around match with 14 kills, 13 digs, seven digs and two service aces while hitting .542 to help the Irish rally to claim the last three sets and improve to 6-3 on the season. The Santa Barbara, Calif., native was especially effective in the deciding fourth set, hitting .750 by pounding home six kills in just eight attempts.
Post match, Brown downplayed her performance and instead praised her teammates for putting her in good situations.
“Most of the digs I had were off tips from the block funneling balls to me” said Brown. “On offense, the setting from Maggie (Brindock) and Hanna (Muzzonigro) was really good and got me in a lot of one-on-one situations where I could hit around the block.”
Helping Brown turn back the Bison were several Irish standouts that performed well in the match. Junior Jeni Houser had her usual strong showing with a team-high 16 kills, while fellow junior Toni Alugbue had a double-double with 10 kills and a team-high 16 digs. Senior Andie Olsen quietly had nine kills, hit .615 and had three blocks, while fellow senior Nicole Smith had her best match of the young season with 10 kills and a team-high four blocks including two solo stuffs.
The Irish also had a good day in the digs department as they recorded 71, including four student-athletes with 13 or more. Starting libero Andrea McHugh tied for the team high with 16 and in the process became the 13th performer in Irish history to go over the 1,000 dig mark. Junior defensive specialist Kathleen Severyn added 15. Just nine matches into the 2013 season, Severyn is two digs away from tying her single-season high of 75 digs from 2012.
Taking many of those passes from McHugh and Severyn was Brindock, who totaled 44 assists, seven digs and four kills.
After hitting just .194 and .188 in the first two sets, the Irish turned it around to hit .421 and .471 in the third and fourth sets to finish with a .308 attack percentage for the day.
Notre Dame returns to action at 8:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday as it plays Georgia in the night cap. Fans can follow the match through live stats.
— Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director