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Irish Look to Remain Unbeaten in ACC Play Against Duke and Wake Forest

Sept. 29, 2016

Notre Dame Notes

By Robby Hamman

Coming off its most successful non-conference season in over a decade, the Notre Dame volleyball team kept the momentum rolling last weekend, sweeping Louisville and Miami for it’s first ever 2-0 start in ACC play. The Irish welcome Duke to Purcell Pavillion at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30 and then host Wake Forest at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2.


Location: Notre Dame, Indiana
Schedule: Friday, Sept. 30 — 7 p.m. EST vs. Duke | | LIVE STREAM
Sunday, Oct. 2 — 1 p.m. vs. Wake Forest | | LIVE STREAM
Twitter Updates: @NDVolleyball


  • The first 500 fans to Friday’s match will receive a free Flashback Friday retro-themed T-shirt
  • Sunday’s match is Health & Fitness Day – the first 500 fans will receive free ND headbands and there will be a post-match Zumba session.
  • Sunday’s match is also ND Faculty/Staff Appreciation Day


On how starting 2-0 in the ACC affected the team’s confidence…
“Confidence to me is not about winning and losing – I mean it helps a little bit. Confidence is about understanding what you need to do and through sound mindful preparation believing that you are getting better. I think the wins for sure help but really the kids have to know where we are at and how we’re playing.”

On the team’s ability to be able to close out three-set matches…
“Staying on task has been key. We’ve been able to get better as each game has gone. Early in the season we started matches a bit slow and we have fixed that a little bit. Early points are as critical as late points so it’s about being consistent and that’s more about discipline, focus and staying on task for longer periods of time. You have to be able to manage the problems because you’re going to have them and I think we are doing better at that.”


Senior middle blocker Katie Higgins posted a season-best attacking percentage of .667 in Sunday’s win over Miami on a team-high 10 kills. The Kearney, Nebraska native did not make an attack error in six sets of play over the last two matches. Higgins recorded a team-high three blocks against Miami. For the weekend the senior totaled 15 kills on just 31 attempts for a hitting percentage of .484.


Of Notre Dame’s 11 wins this season, eight have come in straight-set fashion. The eight 3-0 victories are more than the last three years combined. The Irish started the season with three consecutive sweeps, claiming wins over Seton Hall, Cleveland State and Western Michigan.


Notre Dame enters the weekend ranked fifth nationally in aces per set, recording an average of 2.02. The Irish have dished out 97 aces this season to lead the ACC. The duo of Sam Fry and Ryan DeJarld have each posted 21 aces on the year, tying the two for first in the league. Notre Dame has produced five or more aces in 11-of-14 matches this season.


Notre Dame is off to its best start since the 2005 season, posting an 11-3 record. Notre Dame enters Friday’s match on a three-match winning streak, including two wins in the opening weekend of ACC play over Louisville and Miami. The Irish are winners of seven of their last eight matches with five of those victories coming in straight-set fashion. Junior outside hitter Sam Fry leads the Irish attack, totaling a team-high 128 kills on the season to average 2.72 per set. Freshman Jemma Yeadon is second on the squad with 116 kills in 2016.


Duke is 8-4 on the season and coming off a 2-0 weekend as it recorded wins over Wake Forest (3-1) and Virginia (3-2). The Blue Devils rank second in the ACC in opponent hitting percentage, holding the opposition to a clip of just .165. A major reason for the great defensive numbers is the team averages 16.96 digs per set, also ranking second in the league. The Duke defense is led by senior Sasha Karelov, who averages 4.65 digs per set this season, placing her second in the conference.


The Irish lead the Blue Devils 6-5 in the all-time series but Duke has won each of the last four meetings. Notre Dame’s last victory in the series came by way of a 3-1 decision in September 2006.


Wake Forest enters Friday with a 5-8 record on the season and 1-1 mark in the ACC. In the opening weekend of conference action Wake Forest fell to Duke by a final of 3-1 before rebounding to defeat Virginia 3-1. The Demon Deacons’ attack is led by the duo of Caroline Rassenfoss and Kylie Long, as the pair ranks fifth and sixth in the league in kills per set, respectively.


The Demon Deacons hold a 3-1 advantage over the Irish, winning each of the last three matchups. The Irish won the first meeting between the two sides in October 1982.

— ND —

Robby Hamman joined Fighting Irish Media as athletics communications assistant director in September 2016, coordinating efforts for the volleyball and men’s lacrosse program. Hamman is a 2010 graduate of Bethel College, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in sport management and business administration, and earned his master’s degree in business administration from Defiance College in 2013.