Oct. 18, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – With 1,522 rowdy fans on hand Friday night at Purcell Pavilion to cheer on the Irish, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team was out to prove that its 3-0 sweep of Georgia Tech last weekend was no fluke. Showing a strong competitive drive and a real will to win, the Irish knocked off the Miami Hurricanes, 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-22, 25-20), behind a combined 44 kills from juniors Toni Alugbue and Jeni Houser and senior Sammie Brown.
On the night head coach Debbie Brown celebrated an unnumbered birthday, the Irish looked inspired and confident against the `Canes, showing no fear against a team that entered the match tied for first in the ACC and had only lost four times on the year.
“Based on the travel Miami had to put in this week, tonight was a time to take advantage of every opportunity we had,” said Brown. “The team is developing a bond and feeding off each other and using the momentum in our favor.”
Notre Dame (8-10, 2-5 ACC) took big leads in multiple sets only to watch the `Canes (13-5, 6-2 ACC) trim the lead time and again. However, where the Irish of previous matches this season may have faded, the new Irish rebounded to close out sets one, three and four in convincing fashion to seal the win.
“I think it helped to get that first win out of the way last weekend,” said senior Andrea McHugh. “Tonight we were just really determined to get a win streak going and really make a statement.
“We had a mentality that we wanted to win and we just put it all out there. It came down to us coming together and playing as a team and working our hardest out there.”
Alugbue led the way for Notre Dame with 16 kills, while Brown recorded a double-double with 15 kills and 13 digs. Houser rounded out the trio with 13 kills and a team-high seven blocks. McHugh tied for the match high with 21 digs, while senior setter Maggie Brindock totaled 45 assists, seven digs and three blocks.
Both teams struggled offensively for much of the match, as they combined for 31 blocks. Miami hit .146, while Notre Dame wasn’t much better at .161. Savannah Leaf paced the `Canes with 17 kills and 21 digs, while Emani Sims had six kills and a team-high nine blocks.
The Irish must now prepare for No. 19 Florida State, who hasn’t played since a 3-1 victory over Miami Wednesday night. The Seminoles (13-5, 6-1 ACC) enter Purcell Pavilion at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday for the first-ever Block Out Cancer match. All proceeds from the match will be donated to Saint Joseph’s Regional Medical Center’s Women’s Task Force and its Secret Sisters Society Fund. Fans can buy pink Block Out Cancer shirts for $10 at the door and also bid on the jerseys Notre Dame will wear in the match online at UND.com. For those not attending the contest, links to gametracker and WatchND.tv are available on UND.com.
“Florida State is a really good team and we are all excited to play them Sunday,” said McHugh. “It’s going to take a lot of focus. Defense, blocking and hitting will all have to be there for us.”
“FSU is really good,” said Brown. “We will have to come in here and continue to play at a high level. We know there are no easy matches in the ACC and we will have to work for every point. I like the way the team is responding right now though.”
The Irish seemed to carry the momentum from the Georgia Tech win nicely into set one as it got control and then fought off a Hurricane rally with spirited play to win, 25-23, and take a 1-0 lead in the match. Alugbue and Brown were virtually unstoppable as they combined for 13 kills and hit .667 for the frame to help the Irish to a .433 attack percentage. Notre Dame also did a nice job at the nets on defense as it totaled four blocks.
Notre Dame took the first big lead of the match with a 6-1 run early in set one. A pair of kills by Andie Olsen got the run started before a double block by the Oakland, Calif., native and Nicole Smith pushed the lead to six at 11-5. Miami stormed back though behind the powerful right arm of Leaf, who totaled four kills in five points to trim the lead to 11-10. Later in the frame, the Irish took a 14-13 lead and turned it into a 21-15 advantage behind a pair of double blocks from Olsen and Houser and four kills from Alugbue. After another Miami comeback behind two double blocks from Sims and Alex Johnson made the score 22-21, a kill from Sims and a service ace from Leaf tied the set at 23. However, the Irish wouldn’t be denied in the first set as a kill by Brown and a solo block by Houser gave Notre Dame a 1-0 lead.
A tight second set that saw nine ties and three lead changes went the way of the Hurricanes as they made a run late to win 25-23. A one or two point margin throughout much of the frame, Miami made its move with a 4-0 run late. Trailing 20-19, Alex Johnson got the rally started with a kill off a pass from Blair Fuentez. A kill by Alexis Mourning forced an Irish timeout, but the run didn’t stop there as Morning and Johnson teamed up for a block before Misty Ma’A and Mourning paired up for another to push the lead to 23-20. Trailing 24-21, Notre Dame trimmed the margin to 24-23 behind two Olsen kills, but Ma’A closed out the frame as she pounded home a kill off an assist from Fuentez.
The `Canes controlled the net in set two, blocking seven Notre Dame attacks and limiting the Irish to a .052 attack percentage. Johnson and Morning had four blocks each in the frame, while the former had a set-high five kills.
Notre Dame rebounded in set three, claiming a 25-22 win to go up 2-1 in the match. Houser finally broke out in set three, totaling seven kills, including the clincher, after being held to just three in the first two sets combined. Alugbue contributed four kills in 12 attempts to hit .333 for the frame.
Another close set saw 10 ties and a pair of lead changes and was tied all the way until 21 all when the Irish took over. An attack error on Johnson got Notre Dame started and a Brown service ace gave the Irish a 23-21 lead. After a Miami timeout, a solo block by Alugbue gave Notre Dame set point. After a kill by Johnson trimmed the margin to 24-22, Houser emphatically ended the frame with a powerful kill on the right side.
Notre Dame secured its second win in a row with a 25-20 victory in the fourth set. A close set early, Notre Dame busted it open midway through the frame behind the serving of Hanna Muzzonigro and four attack errors from the ‘Canes gave the Irish a 17-10 advantage. Later in the set, Alugbue pounded home a kill and Brindock served up an ace to push the lead to 21-14. Notre Dame reached match point on a kill by Brown and won the contest on Miami’s eighth service error of the night.
The Irish didn’t hit well in the fourth frame (.037), but Miami hit worse as they had only nine kills in 30 chances for a -.033 attack percentage.
— Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director