Nov. 15, 2015
By Russell Dorn
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Facing off against a team in the Miami Hurricanes that entered the match 11-1 at home in 2015, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team showed improvement but couldn’t overcome a powerful Hurricane offense in a 3-1 loss (25-16, 21-25, 25-18, 25-18) at Knight Complex.
The Hurricanes (18-8, 11-4 ACC) displayed steady offense for virtually the entire match, as they tallied 60 kills and just 16 errors on 131 swings for a .336 attack percentage. In the first three sets Miami hit .375, .324 and .389, respectively.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, had 38 kills and 19 errors on 132 swings for a .144 attack percentage. The Irish hit .357 in their set two win, but just .194, .125 and -.061 in the other frames.
The Irish led in service aces (7-6) and blocks (8.0 – 6.0), but trailed in assists (57-34) and digs (64-45).
Miami’s three-headed monster of Kelsie Groot (14K, .387 A%, 4D), Olga Strantzali (14K, .545A%, 6D, 2SA, 3B) and Alexis Mourning (13K, .476 A%, 4B) were virtually unstoppable, as they combined for 41 kills and just seven errors on 74 swings (.460 A%). Elsewhere, setter Haley Templeton had 51 assists, seven digs, two blocks and four kills (.667 A%) and libero Kalysta White had 24 digs and two service aces.
For Notre Dame, freshman Meg Morningstar had her best match in ACC play with eight kills (.727 A%) and six blocks. Sophomore Maddie Plumlee led the way with nine kills. Sophomore setter Maddie Dilfer totaled a double-double with 30 assists, 12 digs and three service aces and sophomore Sydney Kuhn totaled seven kills, eight digs and two service aces. Freshman Rebecca Nunge totaled five kills and six blocks.
Miami hit .375 with 11 kills (two errors) to control the opening frame. The Irish didn’t help themselves by totaling six unforced attack errors (.194 A%), three service errors and a ball-handling error in the set. The Hurricanes aced Notre Dame on three occasions. Groot posted five kills on six swings (.833 A%) to lead the Canes.
The Irish stormed back in set two by limiting the errors they made in set one. Notre Dame attacked at a .357 clip (12K, 2E) and didn’t have any other errors in the frame. The Irish also had four blocks to none for the Canes.
Notre Dame rallied from 11-7 and 12-8 deficits, eventually tying up the set at 13 on a block by Morningstar and Nunge. Miami regained the lead at 17-15, but Notre Dame took off from there, scoring 10 of the final 14 points of the set with seven points coming by way of the kill. Four different players recorded kills and sophomore Natalie Johnson had a service ace during the Irish scoring surge. A Plumlee kill followed by another Morningstar and Nunge combined block and a Kuhn kill tied the match at one set apiece entering the locker room.
Miami regained the lead in the match with a win in set three. The Canes and Irish were tied at eleven before the home team started taking over. Miami scored five of the next six points to claim a 16-12 lead. Later in the set up 17-15, Miami ran off seven points in a row behind the serving of Taylor Scott to make it set point at 24-15. Three points later Strantzali pounded home her sixth kill of the frame (1.000 A%) to give her team a 25-18 set victory. Miami hit .389 for the set after hitting .375 and .324 in the first two frames.
The Canes finished off the Irish in set four by totaling 14 kills, four blocks and two service aces. The Irish struggled offensively with just five kills for a negative attack percentage (-.061). Miami pulled away midway through the frame by taking a 7-6 lead and turning it into a 15-7 advantage. Notre Dame trimmed the margin to two at 18-16, but the Canes finished off the match with a 7-2 run that was punctuated by a Scott kill after a kill by Groot.
Notre Dame (6-22, 1-15 ACC) closes out its 2015 home schedule next week when Georgia Tech and Clemson come calling. The Irish and Yellow Jackets are set for a 7 p.m. (ET) Friday match while the Tigers head to town for a 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday showdown. Fans can follow both matches through WatchND in addition to live stats.
Russell Dorn, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2011 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame volleyball, rowing and baseball programs. A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, Dorn graduated from Furman University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in history before earning his master’s degree in sports communications from Georgia State University in 2011.