WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – On just a couple hours of rest and facing off against a team that bested No. 11 Purdue earlier in the day, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team rose to the occasion Friday evening against Saint Louis, as it defeated the talented Atlantic 10 foe, 3-1 (25-21, 21-25, 26-24, 25-21), to finish off a Friday sweep at the Purdue Active Ankle Challenge.
After Notre Dame and Saint Louis split the opening sets, the Irish offense turned it on in the final two frames to clinch victory. The Irish had 14 kills and just two errors (.364A%) in the third set, before blasting 19 kills to just four errors (.469A%) in the final frame.
Grad student Nicole Smith
recorded 10 kills in the final two sets as she finished with a team-high 16. Smith added six digs, five blocks and a service ace.
“I’m really proud of the team and I told them that afterwards,” said head coach Debbie Brown. “It was a really difficult schedule playing at noon and five. We love to win, but we weren’t very pleased with how we played against Morehead State this afternoon. We had too many unforced errors and didn’t play crisp volleyball. With just a couple of hours to get food and regroup for our second match I thought it was incredible the focus we came out with against Saint Louis. The highlight for me was how we finished the match. We turned it up and made clutch plays when we needed to make clutch plays. That was a big win. Saint Louis just beat Purdue, it beat Missouri and it has played a strong schedule. So we just beat a strong team for sure.”
Senior Jeni Houser
recorded 11 kills and hit .474 on the night as she moved into ninth place in school history for career matches with 10+ kills (68).
One of two setters that see action, freshman Maddie Dilfer produced 25 assists, nine digs and a team-high two service aces. Fellow freshman Sam Fry had eight kills and seven blocks, while freshman libero Natalie Johnson tallied a team-high 14 digs to go along with seven assists and a service ace.
Notre Dame had another big blocking match with 13, to give it 26.5 for the tournament.
The match featured 31 ties and seven lead changes.
The Irish (3-7) will enter Saturday on top of the tournament standings after beating Morehead State earlier in the day. In the first match Friday, the Billikens took down the Boilermakers, 3-2.
Notre Dame closes out the tournament with a Big Ten Network showdown with the host Boilermakers at 8 p.m. Saturday. Fans can also watch the match on BTN Plus and BTN2Go.com, listen through Purdue’s online radio broadcast or follow live stats. Links for all of these avenues are available on UND.com.
The Irish got off to a great start in their second match of the day as they jumped out to a 6-1 lead on their way to a 25-21 victory in set one. Notre Dame, which led from beginning to end, led by four or five points for much of the early set, but Saint Louis trimmed the lead to two (16-14) after a kill from Lauren Leverenz. A couple of points later, Notre Dame ran off three points in a row to push its lead to 21-16. The Billikens cut the margin to two at 23-21, but back-to-back kills from Hanna Muzzonigro
and Katie Higgins
gave Notre Dame the 1-0 lead. The Irish posted three service aces on the set. Fry (3K) and Smith (4K) led Notre Dame on offense.
Saint Louis came roaring back in set two as it tied the match at one with a 25-21 victory of its own. The two squads were tied at nine early in the match, but Saint Louis went on a 10-3 run to jump out to a 19-12 lead. The Irish made a late comeback to trim the lead to 22-18, but a Meredith Boe kill tied the match at one. Notre Dame hit just .023 for the set and put down only nine kills. Meanwhile, Saint Louis tallied 17 kills.
A wild third set that featured 16 ties and four lead changes came up all Irish as they took a 2-1 lead in the match with a 26-24 win. Notre Dame couldn’t be stopped on offense as it hit .364 for the set. A back-and-forth frame came down to the very end. Notre Dame had set point at 24-23, but Nenye Okoro tallied a kill to tie the frame at 24. However, back-to-back kills from Smith and sophomore Katie Higgins
gave the Irish the match-changing set.
The Irish offense took it up a notch in the fourth-and-final set as they hit .469 and pounded home 19 kills. Freshman Sydney Kuhn
(6K, .667A%) was especially accurate. Saint Louis clung to a slim lead for much of the set, but Notre Dame took over at the end. Trailing 21-20, the Irish proceeded to claim the match’s final five points behind the serving of Johnson and back-to-back, match-ending kills from Houser.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director