Nov. 16, 2014
DURHAM, N.C. – Facing off against a Duke team that had just handed No. 3 Florida State its first loss of the season Thursday night, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team went into the break tied 1-1 with the Blue Devils Sunday afternoon. However, the Irish couldn’t win the critical third set and had no comeback magic in the fourth set, as they suffered a 3-1 setback (25-15, 23-25, 25-19, 25-20) in front of 1,213 fans at historic Cameron Indoor Stadium in the season’s road finale.
For the second time this season, the Irish were very competitive against the Blue Devils, one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s elite programs, as they shook off a rough first set to rebound for a tight second-set victory. In that frame, Notre Dame hit .423 and had four blocks, including a solo block by grad student Nicole Smith to clinch the set for the Irish.
However, in the final two sets, Notre Dame fell into large deficits that they couldn’t recover from to give Duke (20-6, 12-3 ACC) the victory on senior day.
For much of the match the Irish were plagued by miscues, as they finished with 24 attack errors, seven service errors, seven receiving errors, one blocking error and five ball handling errors. Duke, meanwhile, had 21 attack errors, five service errors, four receiving errors, no blocking errors and one ball handling error.
Duke’s talented all-ACC outside hitter Emily Sklar had a monster performance against the Irish, as she finished with a match-high 20 kills (.319 A%) to go along with 14 digs. Alyse Whitaker was also hard to stop as well, as she finished with 13 kills and no errors on 21 attack attempts for a .619 hitting percentage.
For Notre Dame, senior Jeni Houser totaled a team-high 13 kills, while freshman Sam Fry totaled nine kills (.438 A%), two service aces and three blocks. Sophomore Simmone Collins tallied a team-high six blocks to go along with six kills and freshman setter Maddie Dilfer had 37 assists, a match-high 15 digs and four kills, as she registered her sixth double-double of the year. Senior libero Kathleen Severyn finished with 14 digs.
Houser, who upped her career kills total to 1,272 this weekend, is just 14 away from moving into the top 10 in school history and 28 away from breaking into the top eight, as she looks to become just the eighth player in school history to reach the 1,300 kill plateau.
For the match, the Irish held a slim 10-9 lead in blocks, but the Blue Devils had the advantage in all the other key categories like kills (52-50), attack percentage (.217-.181), assists (49-45), service aces (7-4) and digs (60-56).
Once a team took control of a set, there was little fluctuation, as the match featured just 13 ties and one lead change.
Notre Dame (6-20, 3-12 ACC) finishes off its 2014 season with three consecutive home matches starting with an 8 p.m. Friday contest against ACC leader North Carolina.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director