HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY — Freshman Kiara Schmidt, sophomore Charley Niego and junior Madison Cruzado combined for 35 digs, but the Notre Dame volleyball team fell 3-1 (19-25, 25-18, 20-25, 20-25) to the Cincinnati Bearcats Friday afternoon in its opening match at the Northern Kentucky Invitational.
The non-conference loss dropped Notre Dame to 4-2 on the season.
Individually, Schmidt had 14 digs, Niego had 11 digs, and Cruzado added 10 more for the Irish.
Niego tacked on 15 kills to complete her second double-double of the season.
Kristin Baer also collected nine kills in the contest to help out offensively while Lauren Wenzel added five blocks for the Irish defense. Zoe Nunez earned 39 assists in the contest.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After a kill from Nunez cut Cincinnati’s lead to 10-8, the Bearcats earned the next three points to take a 13-8 advantage. A kill by Sydney Bent brought the Irish within three points at 18-15, but Cincinnati responded with a 4-1 spurt to maintain control of the frame and eventually earn the 25-19 set win.
Notre Dame fired back from a first-set loss to take the second set 25-18, tying the match at one set apiece. The Fighting Irish registered a .444 attack percentage with 13 kills in the set win. Notre Dame’s front row had a solid defensive performance, blocking four Cincinnati attacks in the stanza. After falling behind 7-5 to open the stanza, the Irish used a 4-0 run to grab a 9-5 lead. The Bearcats responded to tie the set at 13-all before kills by Bent and Baer put the Irish ahead for good. Notre Dame closed the set on a 4-1 run, which culminated in a set-clinching kill by Niego.
Cincinnati responded to win set number three, 25-20, to take a 2-1 lead. The frame was tied seven times before the Bearcats used a 5-0 run to take a 14-10 lead. A kill by Bent pulled the Irish within two at 19-17, but Cincinnati held on for the 25-20 victory.
The Bearcats opened the fourth frame with a 5-0 run and maintained control until an 8-4 Irish spurt evened the score at 18-18. Cincinnati closed the stanza on a 5-1 run to clinch the 25-20 set win and match victory.
Notre Dame closes the Northern Kentucky Invitational with a pair of matches on Saturday, September 14th. The Irish take on Northern Kentucky at 12:00 p.m. ET before meeting Ball State at 5:30 p.m. ET. Live stats for both matches will be available at nkunorse.com/sidearmstats/wvball.
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