Oct. 27, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The University of Notre Dame volleyball team got off to a great start against the University of Virginia Sunday at Memorial Gymnasium, winning set one to take an early 1-0 lead. However, the Irish couldn’t maintain the momentum of the early advantage as the Cavaliers dominated sets two and three and then rallied in the fourth frame to claim a 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 25-15, 25-23) victory in Atlantic Coast Conference action.
Virginia (12-10, 5-5 ACC) had four players with double-figure kill totals, led by 22 from standout Tori Janowski. Janowski hit .474 on the day and also contributed seven digs and a team-high five blocks. Also reaching double figures were Haley Kole (12), Jasmine Burton (11) and Mallory Woolridge (11). For the day, the Cavaliers hit .363 and totaled a whopping 65 kills. Setter Lauren Fuller assisted many of those kills, totaling 51 in addition to her four kills and eight digs.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame continued to struggle on offense as it totaled only 45 kills for the match, good for an average of just more than 11 per set. Juniors Toni Alugbue and Jeni Houser each had 11, while senior Nicole Smith totaled 10.
“The match reminded me a lot of Virginia Tech in that we just didn’t generate enough kills,” said head coach Debbie Brown. “Our offense is really sluggish right now and then at the same time we weren’t stopping them with our blocker defense. I think they had 14 or more kills every set. The bigger picture answer is that our offense has to be stronger and we have to have more kills.”
Alugbue also had a team-high 17 digs, to register her eighth double-double of the season, and Houser totaled a team-best six blocks to give her six matches with five or more blocks this season. The Irish out-blocked the Cavaliers for the match, 11.5 to 8.5.
“We need to work on every aspect of the game before next weekend,” said Brown. “We need to regroup mentally as well. It’s tough when you get beat down to have the confidence and trust in yourself and your teammates to pull together and get it done. We had a losing streak earlier in the year and we bounced back and we anticipate that we’ll have to do the same thing again.”
Notre Dame (8-13, 2-8 ACC) returns home next weekend for matches with Maryland (4 p.m. Friday) and Pittsburgh (2 p.m. Sunday).
The Irish put the loss to Virginia Tech behind them and came out ready to play in set one. In an exciting set one that saw the two teams thrive on offense and produce 15 ties and five lead changes, the Irish did just enough at the nets on defense to pull out a 25-23 victory. Virginia built a 13-10 lead and maintained the three point advantage through much of the middle portion of the set, but a three-point run by the Irish tied the contest at 18 for the first time since 10 all. Later in the set, the Irish used the first of two crucial blocks, this time from Houser and Smith, to take their first lead at 21-20 since the score was 8-7. From there, the two teams went back-and-forth for the next few points with UVA holding a 22-21 lead before Notre Dame claimed a 23-22 advantage. After one more Virginia tie, Houser closed out the set with a kill and solo block to give Notre Dame its first 1-0 lead since last Friday against Miami. The Irish hit an impressive .412 for the first set, as they totaled 16 kills in 34 chances with just two errors.
Virginia rallied nicely in set two as the Cavaliers went on a 17-5 run to take a 6-3 deficit and turn it into a 20-11 lead. The run was made possible by Janowski, who had four kills and two blocks and served five points at the beginning of the run. From there the two teams traded points, with an Irish service error giving the Cavaliers the win to send the two teams to the locker room with the score knotted at one apiece. As expected by the score, UVA attacked extremely well, totaling 14 kills and only three errors in 23 chances to hit .478. The Irish meanwhile managed just eight kills to hit .077. Notre Dame also registered just four digs in the frame.
The Cavaliers continued their hot streak in set three, leading from beginning to end to cruise to a 25-15 win and take a 2-1 lead in the match. Since the Irish had the 6-3 lead in set two, Virginia went on a 47-26 run to claim frames two and three. UVA had another strong set on offense, hitting .481 after pounding home 14 kills and committing only one error in 27 attempts. The Irish continued their cold spell on offense, tallying only nine kills in 29 attempts (.172).
In a back-and-forth final set, the Irish suffered heart break as they couldn’t maintain a 17-12 lead in losing their third match in a row. Things looked good for Notre Dame as junior Meg Vonderhaar and Simmone Collins teamed up for a block to push the Irish lead to 17-12 and force a UVA timeout. The Cavaliers regrouped during the 75 seconds, however, as three consecutive kills and a bad set trimmed the Notre Dame lead to 17-16 and caused the Irish to take a timeout. From there, the two squads were virtually even as they put on a show for the 547 in attendance. The score was tied at every point from 18 to 22, before Janowski and Woolridge registered back-to-back kills to give the Cavaliers match point. An Alugbue kill gave Notre Dame some hope, but Kole pounded home the last of her 12 kills to clinch the win for UVA, 25-23. The Irish actually out-hit the Cavaliers in the final frame, .300 to .250, but UVA had 19 kills total to just 12 for Notre Dame.
“He had some freak things happen late in set four that threw us off a bit,” said Brown. “But I thought we responded pretty well and hung in there. I don’t necessarily think it was Virginia doing it to us as much as we just didn’t come up and make the play.”
— Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director