Sept. 16, 2017
By Robby Hamman
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Notre Dame wrapped up its non-conference schedule in fashion on Saturday, winning its third match of the weekend to take the Shamrock Invitational title. The Irish defeated Central Michigan inside Purcell Pavilion by a score of 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-16) to improve to 10-1 on the season and 7-0 at home.
Notre Dame’s 10 wins are the most regular season, non-conference victories the program has posted since it recorded 11 during the 2005 season. The Irish also went a perfect 9-0 over their three tournaments, marking the first time the squad went unbeaten in non-conference tournaments in the regular season since doing so in 1995.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Irish could not have asked for a much better start to the match, jumping out to an 11-3 lead early in the first set. The Chippewas responded, cutting the lead to one point at 15-14. However, that would be as close as Central Michigan would get in the opening frame, as Notre Dame claimed nine of the next 10 points to put the set away. The Irish took the first frame 25-17 to open a 1-0 lead in the match.
Notre Dame carried its momentum from the first set into the second stanza, building a seven-point advantage early with a 14-7 lead. The lead ballooned to as many as eight points in the second set, as the Irish led the Chippewas 21-13. Notre Dame took the set by a score of 25-18 to take control of the match at 2-0. Rebecca Nunge did a bulk of the damage for the Irish, hammering out six kills in the frame.
The Irish came out of the 10-minute intermission determined to end the match in three sets. Holding a one-point lead at 10-9, Notre Dame won 11 of the next 15 points to take a commanding 21-13 lead. The Irish slammed the door shut on Central Michigan, as Lauren Woodard posted a kill to deliver the 25-16 third-set win that sealed the sweep at 3-0.
SHAMROCK INVITATIONAL MVP
Senior middle blocker Sam Fry was dominant in the attack and on defense for the Irish over the three matches of the Shamrock Invite, earning Most Valuable Player honors. Fry finished with 29 kills and a ridiculous hitting percentage of .510 in the three Notre Dame victories. The senior also posted a team-high 14 blocks over the three matches to cement her MVP status.
ND STAT OF THE MATCH
Notre Dame posted its second-highest output of the season in aces on Saturday evening, dishing out eight over three sets. Freshman Madison Cruzado led the charge with a career-high five aces for the Irish, all coming in the opening set of play. Caroline Holt added two aces and Sydney Kuhn chipped in one.
HEAD COACH Jim McLaughlin’s TAKE
On finishing the non-conference portion of the schedule with a 10-1 record…
“There were lessons along the way in every match. We are going to continue to learn. We did what we were supposed to do in the preseason and now we have to keep getting better when we start the ACC. I like where we are at but we have to rest a little bit.”
On finishing strong in the third match of the weekend…
“I was a little worried. The emotions were higher against Michigan State and playing that match first as emotional as it was, we came back and played steady. We weren’t on our ‘A’ game but we played steady and I think that was good for us. Those matches are hard. There were parts of the match that we can continue to learn from. I think we did some things well but we also have to clean up some things.”
On Madison Cruzado’s serve…
“I’ve been coaching 28 years as a head coach and I don’t think I have ever seen anybody that scored 19 points off her serve in a three-game match. She hit it at about 40 miles per hour with no spin and it was moving and dropping. It was a really tough serve to deal with and she just kept hitting it. She’s got a really nice serve that says a lot about her.”
NOTES OF THE MATCH
- The Irish are 7-0 at home in 2017, marking the best home start since beginning 13-0 at home in 2005.
- Notre Dame’s 10-1 start to the season is the program’s best since also posting a 10-1 mark in 2005.
- The Irish have dropped just four sets in their 10 wins in 2017.
- Notre Dame improves to 1-2 against Central Michigan in the all-time series.
- Six of Notre Dame’s wins have been sweeps this season.
- The Irish posted 12.0 team blocks against the Chippewas and have now recorded 10+ team blocks in six matches this season.
- Yeadon has recorded at least 10 kills in all nine matches she has played in during the 2017 season.
- Cruzado notched a career-high five aces to lead the Irish and combined for eight aces in Notre Dame’s two Saturday matches.
- Fry posted a hitting percentage of .583 in the win (8-1-12).
SHAMROCK INVITATIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
(MVP) Sam Fry – Notre DameJemma Yeadon – Notre DameRyann DeJarld – Notre DameKolby Meeks – Southern IllinoisAlyssa Garvelink – Michigan StateHolly Toliver – Michigan StatePaige Carey – Central Michigan
Notre Dame begins the Atlantic Coast Conference portion of its schedule by opening up league play at Louisville at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 22.
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Robby Hamman joined Fighting Irish Media as athletics communications assistant director in September 2016, coordinating efforts for the volleyball and men’s lacrosse program. Hamman is a 2010 graduate of Bethel College, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in sport management and business administration and earned his master’s degree in business administration from Defiance College in 2013.