Irish Top Ball State, 3-1

NOTRE DAME, Ind. —  Sydney Bent recorded a game-high 16 kills with a .324 hitting percentage to lead the University of Notre Dame volleyball team to a 3-1 victory over Ball State Saturday night in the final game of the Northern Kentucky University Invitational. After dropping the first set, 25-19, the Irish rallied with 25-16, 25-22 and 26-24 set wins to take the match.

Sophomore Charley Niego collected 13 kills and 16 digs to record her third double-double of the weekend and fourth of the season.

Freshman Caroline Meuth tied Niego for the team-high with 16 digs while junior Madison Cruzado and sophomore Zoe Nunez each added 12 digs. Nunez also notched 43 assists over the four sets of play for her third double-double of the season.

Sophomore Lauren Wenzel had eight total blocks to pace the Irish defensively. As a team, the Irish recorded 13.5 blocks while Ball State had five.

Niego and Nunez were both named to the NKU Invitational All-Tournament Team for their efforts over the weekend.


First Set
Ball State opened up a 7-3 lead to open play and force an Irish timeout. After the break, the Irish rattled off four straight points, including a pair of aces by Niego, to even the score at 7-7. The sides worked to a 13-all tie before the Cardinals used a 4-1 spurt to lead 17-14. The Cardinals closed the frame on a 6-2 run to earn the 25-19 victory. Bent paced the Irish with four kills in the frame.

Second Set
The Irish erased a 7-5 deficit with a 5-0 run to earn a 10-7 lead and force a Cardinals timeout. Notre Dame earned three of the next four points after the break to extend its lead to 13-8.  The Cardinals took the next two points before the Irish rattled off another five-point run to take control at 18-10. Notre Dame maintained a healthy advantage the rest of the way to earn the 25-16 set win. The Irish limited the Cardinals to a -.028 hitting percentage in the frame.

Third Set
A pair of kills by Meuth helped the Irish jump out to a 5-1 lead to open the third set.  Notre Dame stayed in control to hold a 12-7 lead before the Cardinals used a 4-1 spurt to get within two points. Notre Dame responded with three straight points, including an ace by Cruzado, to earn a 16-11 lead. Ball State answered the Irish with a 4-0 run to make it a 16-15 score, and eventually tied the frame at 19-19. The Irish closed the set on a 6-1 run to take the frame, 25-22, and a 2-1 lead in the match. Bent and Niego each recorded two kills in that set-defining stretch, and the Irish hit .275 in the stanza as a whole.

Fourth Set
Ball State bounced back to open the fourth frame with a 10-4 lead and force an Irish timeout. The Irish used a 4-1 spurt to get within three at 14-11, but the Cardinals answered by earning the next two points to lead 16-11. Notre Dame stormed back to tie the set, 18-18, with four different players recording kills in a 7-2 run. The Irish took a 24-22 lead after a kill by Bent, but the Cardinals converted the next two points to make it 24-24. After a Ball State service error, Bent’s game-high 16th kill clinched the 26-24 set victory and match for Notre Dame.

Notre Dame returns to Purcell Pavilion to host the Michigan Wolverines this Wednesday (Sept. 18) at 7 p.m. ET. That contest is set to be televised live on the ACC Network. For tickets, click here.

For a behind the scenes look at the Notre Dame volleyball program follow the Irish on Twitter (@NDvolleyball), Instagram (@ndvball) and Facebook (/NDVolleyball).