NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame volleyball team opened the 2019 campaign with a 3-1 win over La Salle on day one of the 2019 Golden Dome Invitational Friday night at Purcell Pavilion. The Irish took the first set, 25-19, before La Salle evened the match with a 28-26 victory in set two. Notre Dame bounced back to earn 25-22 and 25-23 victories in the third and fourth sets to clinch the 3-1 win.
Sophomore Sydney Bent paced the Irish attack with 14 kills while classmate Charley Niego notched 12 kills and freshman Caroline Meuth earned 11 kills in her Irish debut. Bent and freshman Kiara Schmidt also tied for a game-high three aces each. Sophomore Zoe Nunez earned 38 assists across the four sets of play.
Defensively, Nunez also led the Irish with 15 digs while Bent collected 14 and junior libero Madison Cruzado tallied 13 digs. Kristin Baer led all players with seven block assists.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After the Explorers jumped out to a 3-2 lead in the opening set, the Irish earned three straight points and stayed in front for the rest of the frame. After back-to-back La Salle points cut the Notre Dame lead to 10-9, an 8-1 Irish streak put the hosts in firm control of the set. As a team, the Irish racked up 15 kills and a .355 hitting percentage in the frame, including six of Bent’s team-high 14.
The sides traded 3-0 spurts en route to a 7-7 tie to open the second set. After La Salle captured the next four points to earn an 11-7 lead, the Irish went on a 5-1 run to once again even the score at 12-12. The Explorers responded with a 7-2 stretch to take a 19-14 advantage, but the Irish clawed back with an ace by Nunez to make it 23-all. Notre Dame failed to cash in on three match-point opportunities before La Salle earned three straight points to take the second set, 28-26.
A 5-0 Irish run, which included two kills by Niego, turned a 5-3 Irish deficit into an 8-5 advantage. Notre Dame led the frame from that point on with help from four kills by Meuth and a pair of aces by Bent. La Salle cut the Irish led to two points on three occasions throughout the set, including 24-22, but an Explorers attack error sealed the 25-22 set win for Notre Dame.
A back-and-forth fourth set featured 14 ties and six lead changes. After the teams opened the frame in a 10-10 tie, a kill from Meuth and ace by Schmidt gave the hosts a 12-10 lead. La Salle answered to knot the set at 12-12. Neither team managed to earn more than a one-point advantage before four consecutive Irish points gave Notre Dame a 23-20 lead. La Salle earned three of the next four points before a kill from Hannah Thompson clinched a 25-23 set win and Irish victory.
Notre Dame resumes the 2019 Golden Dome Invitational with a pair of matches on Saturday inside Purcell Pavilion. The Irish meet Wright State at 12:30 p.m. (ET) before capping the weekend against Bowling Green at 7 p.m. For tickets to either match, click here.
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