Oct. 2, 2014
Syracuse @ Notre Dame
: Free / WatchND: Free
Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 – 7 p.m. (ET)
Records: Notre Dame (3-10, 0-2 ACC), Syracuse (7-7, 0-2 ACC)
No. 25 Duke @ Notre Dame
: Free / WatchND: Free
Saturday, Oct. 5, 2014 – 1 p.m. (ET)
Records: Notre Dame (3-10, 0-2 ACC), Duke (10-3, 2-0 ACC)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After a five-match road swing, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team is back at the friendly confines of Purcell Pavilion to open the home portion of its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule this weekend, with matches against former BIG EAST rival Syracuse (7-7, 0-2 ACC) and No. 25 Duke (10-3, 2-0 ACC) on the docket. The Irish kick off the weekend with a 7 p.m. Friday match against the Orange before welcoming in the Blue Devils for a 1 p.m. Sunday contest.
Tickets are still available for both matches and can be purchased online at UND.com/tickets, by phone (574) 631-7356 or by stopping by the ticket office before each match. Free t-shirts will be handed out at Friday’s match (while supplies last), and the first Irish Spikers clinic is set for after Sunday’s contest.
Notre Dame (3-10, 0-2 ACC) had a tough ACC weekend, as Miami and then-No. 6 Florida State swept the Irish in the Sunshine State. The Irish didn’t play particularly well against the Hurricanes, but came out with renewed energy versus the talented Seminoles squad, giving FSU all it wanted despite the sweep. Notre Dame had set point seven times in a 34-32 first-set loss, and also hung close in sets two and three.
Freshman libero Natalie Johnson turned in a solid match against Florida State, posting a season-high 17 digs. The Pasadena, California native also had a service ace to up her team-high total to nine.
Junior setter Hanna Muzzonigro also turned in a career best (34 assists) to go along with five kills (.444 A%), six digs, a service ace and one block.
After a couple of tough matches, senior Jeni Houser got back on track with an 11-kill performance, as she attacked at a .435 clip. The Louisville, Kentucky native continues to work her way up the Irish career kills list, as she sits 31 away from cracking into the top 15.
Syracuse is coming off a pair of ACC road sweeps of its own, as it fell to NC State and then-No. 12 North Carolina on Tobacco Road. In the non-conference portion of the season, the Orange swept the Windy City Invitational at Chicago State before getting swept by Ohio State, Xavier and Ohio at the Millennium Hotel Invitational hosted by the Musketeers. `Cuse also went 2-1 at both of its home tournaments – the Big Orange Tournament and the Otto Invitational.
Junior outside hitter Silvi Uattara, a preseason all-ACC selection, leads the Orange in kills (189), kills per set (3.57) and digs (145) and is near the top of the Syracuse leaderboard in digs per set (2.74) and blocks per set (0.74). Middle blocker Lindsay McCabe is hitting a team-best .289 while boasting team highs in blocks (73) and blocks per set (1.38).
Notre Dame owned the series from 1990-2010, as the Irish won 17 decisions in a row over the Orange, including posting a 16-1 record in BIG EAST play. However, Syracuse began turning the tide a bit last season, as it swept the Irish at the Carrier Dome before winning 3-1 at Purcell Pavilion in the last match of the season for both teams.
After winning the ACC a year ago and qualifying for the NCAA Tournament, Duke has picked up right where it left off this season. The Blue Devils already have a win over then-No. 14 Michigan State (3-2) in East Lansing, Michigan, and also have victories over West Virginia (3-1), Oklahoma (3-0) and ACC foes Georgia Tech (3-1) and Miami (3-0). Duke also took a set at then-No. 1 Stanford in mid-September. In addition to the loss to the Cardinal, Duke has suffered setbacks at Michigan and at Santa Clara.
Preseason all-ACC selections Jeme Obeime (3.47 KPS, .302 A%) and Emily Sklar (3.88 KPS, 2.33 DPS) lead the Blue Devils. Elsewhere, libero Sasha Karelov tops the ACC with 5.31 digs per set, while setter Kelsey Williams boasts a 10.87 assists per set average and is earning more playing time than preseason all-ACC setter Maggie Deichmeister.
The Irish lead the all-time series, 6-2, but fell to the Blue Devils, 3-1, at Purcell Pavilion last season after winning five in a row in the series from 1988-2006.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director