MADISON, Wis. — The Notre Dame volleyball team was downed by UCLA (16-25, 19-25, 20-25) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday evening at the UW Field House.
“I believe there’s a very bright future ahead for this program,” said Irish head coach Mike Johnson. “The truth is, this is a very young team and it’s new territory for a lot of us. That’s something we’re going to learn from and we’re going to be better from it in the future. So I’m proud of our kids, we did a lot of good things this season. I hope our seniors know just how thankful we are for them and I hope they know they’re always a part of this team and a part of this program. Of course I wish we had played better but I still believe this does not define us and it does not define our program moving forward.”
Notre Dame closes its season at 19-10 overall after earning the 20th NCAA Tournament berth in program history.
Caroline Meuth led the Irish attack with 11 kills while Charley Niego added nine. Zoe Nunez earned 29 assists in the three sets.
Defensively, Madison Cruzado earned a game-high 18 digs and Niego collected 13 digs.
HOW IT HAPPENED
UCLA jumped out to a 12-7 advantage to force an Irish timeout. After the Bruins earned an 18-11 lead, back-to-back kills by Baer and Niego got the Irish within five at 18-13. However, UCLA stayed in control and took the first set, 25-16.
A kill and an ace by Bent helped the Irish earn a 4-1 lead to open set two. UCLA responded with a 4-1 run of its own to even the frame at 5-5. The sides traded 3-0 runs en route to a 12-all tie. From there, neither team had more than a one-point lead until the Bruins used a 5-0 run to go up 19-15. UCLA held on to take the second set, 25-19, and earn a 2-0 lead in the match.
The teams worked to a 9-9 tie to open the third set before the Bruins earned four of the next five points to lead 13-10. After the Bruins took a 16-12 advantage, back-to-back kills by Meuth and Niego got the Irish within two at 16-14. UCLA answered once again by earning five of the next eight points to go up 21-17 and force an Irish timeout. The Bruins held on to take the third set, 25-20, and advance in the NCAA Tournament.