Sept. 28, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After a tough match Friday at Miami, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team came out with renewed energy Sunday afternoon at No. 6 Florida State, as the Irish gave the Seminoles all they wanted in a close, 3-0 (34-32, 25-22, 25-19), loss in front of 915 fans at a loud Tully Gym.
“Friday was a tough night and to see us bounce back like we did and play at a high level was really, really encouraging,” said head coach Debbie Brown. “I was so proud of the team in the first set as we continued to extend the play. The fact that at the very end we didn’t make the plays was tough, but when I look how many clutch swings, passes and serves we had during that stretch, it was for sure a growth moment. Obviously we would have loved to have taken that first set and see if that could have changed the tide of the match, but that’s one of those things that didn’t happen. We aren’t happy with not winning, but on the other hand we did a lot at a high level so we will continue to build on those positive things we gained from this match.”
Highlighted by a wild first frame that saw the Irish hold seven set points, Notre Dame (3-10, 0-2 ACC) showed much improvement Sunday from Friday’s sweep at the hands of the Hurricanes. The Irish totaled 46 kills – one more than FSU – and dished out 42 assists – two more than the Seminoles – but couldn’t overcome Florida State’s serving (six aces) and play at the net (nine blocks). The Seminoles (13-0, 2-0 ACC) also tallied only four service errors to Notre Dame’s eight, which included a pair of critical ones late in set one that helped the Seminoles rally for a 1-0 lead.
The match featured 32 ties and 10 lead changes and was close throughout with each set featuring nine or more ties and three or more lead changes.
Notre Dame had strong performances at libero and setter, as freshman Natalie Johnson and junior Hanna Muzzonigro both had career days. Johnson, who has now recorded 10 or more digs in nine matches, posted a season-high 17 digs and only one reception error. Muzzonigro, meanwhile, had a career-high 34 assists to go along with six digs and five kills. Elsewhere, senior Jeni Houser had an efficient day with 11 kills and just one error in 23 attempts for a .435 attack percentage.
“Natalie’s defense was a lot better with 17 digs in three sets. That’s phenomenal,” said Brown. “That’s where we want her to be. She was a little shaky at the beginning of the match with her passing, but then she settled down and was confident and aggressive. That was huge for us.”
For Florida State, preseason all-Atlantic Coast Conference performer Nicole Walch posted a double-double with 13 kills and 10 digs, while senior preseason all-ACC standout Katie Mosher had a match-high 20 digs. In total, six Seminole players recorded five or more kills.
Notre Dame opens the home portion of the ACC schedule next weekend as Syracuse (7 p.m. Friday) and Duke (1 p.m. Sunday) come to Purcell Pavilion. Fans can follow both matches through live stats and WatchND’s free video stream.
A bonkers first set saw the two teams post a combined 40 kills, 44 digs and 102 attack chances in a 34-32 Florida State win. There were 10 ties and four lead changes, and Notre Dame held set point a whopping seven times compared to five for FSU. However, the Seminoles, using the crowd to gather energy, fought through set point each time. Near the end of the set the Irish led 32-31, but an unfortunate service error tied the match at 32. Back-to-back kills from Walch gave the Seminoles the hard-fought first set. Walch finished the frame with eight kills and a .389 attack percentage. For the Irish, Houser (.545 A%) and freshman Sam Fry (.625 A%) each had six kills, while sophomore Katie Higgins and grad student Nicole Smith both posted three. Muzzonigro tallied 15 assists, four digs and two kills. The 66 combined points were the most in an Irish match since Notre Dame and Virginia combined for 76 (39-37 VA) on November 22 of last year.
Earlier in the frame, FSU led by as much as eight at 19-11, but Notre Dame refused to give up, claiming eight of the next 11 points to pull within one at 21-20. Facing set point at 24-21, the Irish ran off four straight points behind two kills from Houser to take their first lead at 25-24.
Set two was another close one as nine ties and three lead changes highlighted a frame won by the Seminoles, 25-22. Neither of the team’s offenses could keep up the impressive pace from set one as FSU tallied 11 kills (.135 A%), while Notre Dame had just nine (.000 A%). The Seminoles did improve at the net as they tallied five blocks to two for Notre Dame.
The Irish rallied from three-point deficits at 9-6 and 12-9 to tie the set at 12 on a kill from Smith. From there, Notre Dame and Florida State went back-and-forth as both teams claimed leads over the next 11 points. Later in the set the Irish tied the score at 21, but two points in a row by the Seminoles gave them a 23-21 advantage. The Irish trimmed into the lead on an attack error by FSU, but an untimely service ace and a subsequent kill from Katie Horton gave the Seminoles a 2-0 lead entering the break.
Florida State closed out the match in the third set with a 25-19 victory that was closer than the score indicated. Featuring a match-high 13 ties and three lead changes, the set was close until the Seminoles went on a 5-0 run to take a 16-16 tie and turn it into a 21-16 lead. Back-to-back kills from Karlie Hauer and Milica Kubura completed the sweep for FSU. Both offenses exploded in the final set as the Seminoles posted 15 kills and hit .481, while the Irish totaled 16 kills and attacked at a .414 clip.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director