Sept. 12, 2014
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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame volleyball team put up big numbers Friday night against TCU, but the Horned Frogs attacked at a more efficient clip and hit the net hard on defense to carry them to a 3-1 victory (24-26, 25-18, 25-21, 26-24) over the Irish on day one of the Shamrock Invitational.
Despite churning out more kills (65-63), assists (61-53), service aces (4-2) and digs (69-64) than the visitors, the Irish were undone by a powerful Frog offense that hit .351 and a front line that out-blocked Notre Dame, 9-3.
The Irish, who started four freshmen, a sophomore and two seniors in the match, claimed set one, 26-24, but couldn’t maintain the momentum they gained, as they lost the final three sets, including a heart-breaking fourth frame, 26-24.
In a losing effort, Notre Dame had several outstanding individual performances. Senior Jeni Houser was unstoppable all night, as she tied her career high with 20 kills in hitting .471. Freshmen Sydney Kuhn (11K, 12D) and Maddie Dilfer (31A, 14D) both recorded double-doubles, while senior Kathleen Severyn tied her career high with 15 digs. Middle blocker Sam Fry tallied 10 kills and three blocks and fellow freshman Natalie Johnson had 14 digs and a season-high eight assists. Sophomore Simmone Collins had a career-high seven kills, while senior Meg Vonderhaar posted 12.
With another double-digit effort, Houser has now recorded 10 or more kills in a match 64 times, which moves her into 10th place in school history.
For the winning Horned Frogs, six players attacked at a .379 clip or above, highlighted by efforts from Sarita Mikals (14K, .433A%), Stephanie Holland (14K, .379A%) and Mattie Burleson (11K, .444A%). Libero Sutton Sunstrum had a match-high 20 digs.
Notre Dame closes out the Shamrock Invitational Saturday with a 10:30 a.m. contest with Northeastern and a 7 p.m. showdown with Northern Iowa. Fans can follow both matches through live stats and WatchND’s free video stream. Tickets are still available for the full day of action at the Purcell Pavilion ticket office.
For more information on the Notre Dame volleyball team, follow the Irish on Facebook (NDVolleyball), Twitter (@NDVolleyball) and Instagram (NDVBall).
A thrilling first set went to the Irish as they held off the Horned Frogs, 26-24, to take a 1-0 lead. Back-and-forth would be an understatement, as there were 18 ties and eight lead changes in the frame. Notre Dame held set point at 24-23 after Kuhn’s sixth kill of the opening frame, but TCU responded with a kill of its own to tie the set at 24. Holding the momentum, the Frogs quickly gave it back with a service error, and a block by Vonderhaar and Fry gave the Irish the win.
Kuhn (6 kills), Houser (4 kills), Collins (3 kills, 1.000 A%) and Vonderhaar (3 kills) all had big first sets for the Irish as they combined for 16 of the team’s 18 kills. Notre Dame hit .400, while the Frogs hit a whopping .500. Notre Dame also had two big service aces, while Dilfer tallied 14 assists in her first career start. For TCU, Holland had seven kills and hit a remarkable .875.
TCU came roaring back in the second set as it led from beginning to end to secure a 25-18 victory. The Irish made a couple of mini runs during the set, but the Horned Frogs held sizable leads of 14-7 and 19-13 at different points in the frame. Notre Dame trimmed the lead to four at 22-18, however, TCU ended the set with three consecutive points. Holland continued to impress as she upped her kills total to 11 through two frames. Mikals totaled four kills in the set.
The Horned Frogs claimed the third set, as they held the lead throughout except when the score was tied at one. Notre Dame trailed 17-12 midway through the frame, but fought back to trim the lead to three at 20-17 and then to two at 23-21. However, a kill by Burleson and an attack error on the Irish gave TCU the 25-21 win and a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth set. Mikals had five kills and hit .833 for the frame, while Houser had seven kills.
A fourth set that seemed so promising, ended in heartbreak for the Irish, as they couldn’t put away the Horned Frogs despite leading by as many as four at 18-14 and then by three at 21-18. After a flurry of Frog kills tied the set at 21 and forced a Notre Dame timeout, a block by Vonderhaar and Fry gave the Irish a one-point lead. Two consecutive points for the Frogs gave them the lead, but junior Hanna Muzzonigro answered with a kill of her own to tie the match at 23. Looking to capture the momentum and force a fifth and deciding set, the Irish had an unfortunate service error that gave TCU match point. A Houser kill tied the match at 24, but another service error spelled Notre Dame’s doom. A second-consecutive attack error to end a set followed and gave TCU a 26-24 win, clinching the match for the Horned Frogs of the Big XII Conference.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director