Oct. 19, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Down 2-0 against Boston College, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team showed that Fighting Irish spirit, as the home squad rallied all the way back for a thrilling, 3-2 (23-25, 19-25, 25-22, 25-18, 15-7), victory over the Eagles Sunday afternoon at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame (5-14, 2-6 ACC) has displayed a knack for overcoming 2-0 deficits over the last couple of years and Sunday was no different, as the Irish came back on BC for the second time in as many matches against the Eagles. Last November 9, Notre Dame won in Chestnut Hill, 3-2, after trailing 2-0.
Sunday definitely wasn’t easy, as an improved Eagles squad that already boasts three Atlantic Coast Conference wins gave Notre Dame everything it wanted. After the Irish made a spirited comeback by winning sets three and four, the Eagles broke the huddle in set five looking to clinch an ACC road win.
In the final frame, the Eagles jumped out to a 5-3 lead on a kill from Kam McLain. However, the Irish wouldn’t let their comeback come up short. After a kill from freshman Maddie Plumlee made the score 5-4 in favor of BC, the Winona Lake, Indiana product went back to serve. What followed was a remarkable 8-0 run that featured two Plumlee service aces and two Sam Fry kills to put Notre Dame comfortably ahead, 11-5. Later in the set, Katty Workman trimmed the Irish lead to five at 12-7, but the Eagles self destructed from there with a service error and two attack errors to give Notre Dame a 15-7 win in set five and an improbable 3-2 win overall.
“During Saturday’s practice we talked about playing for each other, the seniors and Deb (head coach Debbie Brown),” said Fry. “That was really important and I think that helped us win. We came out with more of an attacking mentality and to play to win instead of playing not to lose.”
“The fifth set was really fun and it was a great team effort in staying focused especially in serving, defense and making sure we didn’t let any technique or skill slip,” said Plumlee. We made a decision to compete and to show fight out on the court. That’s something we learned today and something we are going to carry forward in our future matches.”
With the win, the Irish continue their winning ways against the Eagles, as they up their all-time lead to 14-1, including 3-0 over the last two years when both teams have been part of the ACC.
A 2-0 comeback in volleyball requires a complete team effort, and the Irish surely got it Sunday. Three players reached double figures in kills, five hit over .270 and four student-athletes totaled four or more blocks, as the Irish piled up 18 on the day to vastly out-block the Eagles, who had just five.
“In practice recently we’ve worked on blocking a lot because we’ve struggled in that area recently,” said Fry. “Blocking is really important because it helps out the defenders and helps with the team’s momentum.”
Senior Jeni Houser led the Irish with 13 kills and just missed a double-double with nine digs and five blocks. Fry flirted with a triple-double as she totaled 12 kills (.318 A%), seven digs and nine blocks. Lastly, grad student Nicole Smith had 12 kills (.290 A%) and four blocks.
Elsewhere for the Irish, sophomore middle blocker Katie Higgins had eight kills, a team-high .400 attack percentage and seven blocks, and freshman libero Natalie Johnson claimed a match-high 17 digs. Seeing action in four sets, Plumlee had her best collegiate match with five kills, two service aces, three digs and three blocks.
A thrilling match from beginning to end, the contest featured 22 ties and eight lead changes.
The Irish ended up hitting .266 for the match, while limiting the Eagles to a .148 attack percentage. Notre Dame had two more assists (50 to 48) and nine more digs (57 to 48) than BC. After an unfortunate 15 service errors in Friday’s loss to Clemson, the Irish cut that number down to 11 while producing six aces.
Notre Dame hit over .300 in three of the five sets, including a match-high .417 in the opening frame. Meanwhile, the Irish limited the Eagles .128 attack percentage or below over the final three fames, including -.100 in the deciding fifth set.
Boston College featured five players with eight or more kills, including four with 10-plus kill efforts. Workman led the way with 15 kills, 12 digs and three blocks, while Julia Topor had 12 but 11 attack errors. Topor also had four service aces and five digs. McLain added 10 kills and Sol Calvete pounded home 11.
Notre Dame hits the road next weekend to the Commonwealth of Virginia known as the Mother of Presidents for showdowns with Virginia Tech (7 p.m. Friday) and Virginia (7 p.m. Saturday).
- With 13 kills on the match, Houser moved into 13th place in school history with 1,194 for her career … she sits 21 kills out of 11th place.
- Houser also moved into seventh place in school history in 10+ kill matches (71).
- The Louisville, Kentucky native tied her career high with nine digs … she also had nine against No. 12 Minnesota to start the season.
- Fry tied her season-high with nine blocks … she had two solo and seven assisted … she also set a new season high with seven digs.
- Johnson matched her season high in digs for the third time with 17.
- Another freshman – Jo Kremer – topped her season high in digs with eight.
- Notre Dame’s 18 blocks topped its previous season-high (13.5 vs. Morehead State) by 4.5 blocks.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director