Oct. 21, 2015
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Playing against its fourth ranked team of the year in No. 24 Louisville Wednesday night, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team showed much improvement from its first meeting with the Cardinals three weeks ago at Purcell Pavilion. However, the Irish couldn’t close out a frustrating third set that saw the team hold a six-point lead late, as the home team finished off the three-set sweep (25-21, 25-19, 26-24) of Notre Dame at the KFC Yum! Center.
After going toe-to-toe with the Cardinals through the first two sets only to suffer losses in both, the Irish came out on fire after the break. They held a 10-5 lead early and maintained it for much of the frame, eventually pushing the lead to six at 17-11. Later on Notre Dame was up 22-16 and held the serve, as it looked to force a fourth set.
However, the Irish couldn’t close the door on the Cardinals, as Louisville quickly worked its way back into the set. Behind the serving of Molly Sauer and a pair of attack errors on the Irish, Louisville trimmed the lead to one at 22-21. The teams traded points from there until Notre Dame held set point after a service error by the Cardinals.
Freshman Aniah Philo refused to let the match go four sets though, as she sandwiched a critical service ace between her 12th and 13th kills of the night to give the Cardinals the thrilling come-from-behind set win to clinch the match victory.
Philo had herself quite a night to lead the Cardinals, finishing with 13 kills and 12 digs. She attacked at a .345 clip.
Elsewhere, Erin Fairs posted a match-high 16 kills to go along with eight digs, Maggie DeJong had 10 kills and hit .444 and Janelle Jenkins posted 10 kills and 15 digs.
Setter Katie George had a remarkable 53 assists in four sets to go along with eight digs and four kills. Libero Molly Sauer had a match-high 20 digs.
Louisville totaled 59 kills on the night to help offset just three blocks. The Irish had an impressive 10.5 blocks, but failed to record a service ace for the first time all season and posted just 32 kills on the night.
For Notre Dame, freshman outside hitter Rebecca Nunge had 10 kills (.391 A%) and sophomore middle blocker Sam Fry tallied eight kills (.389 A%) and five blocks. Sophomore Sydney Kuhn posted six kills, nine digs and six blocks.
In set one the Irish were tied with the Cardinals as late as 19-19 and trailed by just one at 22-1. However, Louisville ran off three consecutive points to take a 1-0 lead.
Set two saw the Irish hold a lead as late as 13-12. The Cardinals took over from there though, eventually pushing the lead to five at 20-15 before finishing off the set with another Philo kill.
The Irish had 23 more digs and 6.5 more blocks Wednesday night than they did in the first meeting with the Cardinals. Kills and assists were all but even in the two meetings.
The Irish (6-15, 1-8 ACC) will look to snap their four-match losing streak at 7 p.m. (ET) Friday when they make the trek over to Charlottesville, Virginia for a meeting with the Virginia Cavaliers (13-6, 5-3 ACC).
–Russell Dorn, Athletics Communications Assistant Director