Sept. 7, 2014
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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Playing without two of its top three point scorers from a year ago for the second match in a row, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team fell to Western Michigan in three sets, 25-22, 25-20, 25-21, Sunday afternoon in the finale of the Golden Dome Invitational.
Having already lost senior honorable mention All-American Toni Alugbue to a season-ending ACL injury before the year started, the Irish lost graduate student Nicole Smith for Saturday and Sunday’s matches after she suffered an ankle injury Friday night against Washington State.
Sunday the Irish actually led the Broncos in several categories (kills, assists, service aces, digs and blocks), but had nine more attack errors and five more service errors that proved critical in the match result. Western Michigan out-hit Notre Dame, .206-.124.
The closest set of the match may have been the first, as it produced seven ties and four lead changes. Notre Dame tied the set at 16 on a Sam Fry kill, but the Broncos scored three points in a row to take a 19-16 lead. From there, the Irish couldn’t trim the lead to less than two points before eventually falling behind by five at 24-19. Three-straight Irish points jump-started by a Natalie Johnson service ace gave Notre Dame some life, but a kill from Ali Gossen gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead.
After holding the lead throughout in set two to take a 2-0 lead, Western Michigan finished off the match after returning from the break. The Irish held a two-point lead as late as 17-15, but four-straight Bronco points forced a Notre Dame time out. Later in the frame, the Irish trailed 22-20, but gave up two more points that extended the deficit to four. A block by Ave Stout and Mikaela Ryshytylo gave Western Michigan its second win of the weekend.
The Broncos were paced by Alysia Baznik’s 11 kills, three service aces and 10 digs. All-tournament team member’s Sydney LeMay (8 kills, .429 attack percentage and five blocks) and Caroline Rose (19 digs) also had productive matches.
For Notre Dame, Fry turned in a solid all-around match with a team-high 11 kills, three service aces, five blocks and three digs, while fellow freshman Maddie Dilfer tallied her first career double-double as she had 12 assists and a team-high 14 digs.
Washington State (3-0) won the Golden Dome Invitational behind tournament MVP Chelsey Bettinson and all-tournament team members Jaicee Harris and Kate Sommer.
Despite her team suffering three losses, Kuhn earned a spot on the all-tournament squad after leading the Irish in kills (26), and finishing third in digs (20) for the weekend.
Notre Dame (0-5) welcomes in TCU, Northeastern and Northern Iowa to Purcell Pavilion next weekend for the Shamrock Invitational. Action will take place Friday and Saturday. More information on the tournament will be available later in the week.
Remember to follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDVolleyball), Twitter (@NDVolleyball) and Instagram (NDVBall) for behind-the-scenes coverage of the Notre Dame volleyball program.
Final Tournament Results
1. Washington State (3-0)
2. Western Michigan (2-1)
3. IUPUI (1-2)
4. Notre Dame (0-3)
MVP: Chelsey Bettinson (WSU)
Jaicee Harris (WSU)
Kate Sommer (WSU)
Sydney LeMay (WMU)
Caroline Rose (WMU)
Kaitlyn Hickey (IUPUI)
Beth Howard (IUPUI)
Sydney Kuhn (ND)
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director