NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The Notre Dame volleyball team sent the senior class out in fashion on Senior Day in its regular season finale on Friday afternoon inside Purcell Pavilion, defeating Duke by a final score of 3-1.
Sophomore Charlie Niego turned in one of the program’s best individual performances of the decade, recording 20 kills and 20 digs for the first 20-20 outing since Kristen Dealy did so in five sets against Delaware on Sept. 17, 2010. Niego hit .415 for the match and added two aces to cap off her memorable day.
Two other Notre Dame players turned in 15-plus kill performances in the victory, as Caroline Meuth tallied 17 kills and Sydney Bent added 16. The Irish had three players with 15 or more kills in a match for the first time since the 2017 season.
Senior Kristin Baer led the Irish in blocks in her final match in Purcell Pavilion in her career, registering five on the day. Madison Cruzado paced the team in digs with 22 while Zoe Nunez dished out 50 assists, marking the most assists she has had in a match of four sets or less in 2019.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Irish came out firing from the opening serve, winning the first five points, all off kills, to jump out to a quick 5-0 lead and force an early Duke timeout. Notre Dame kept its foot on the gas for the rest of the set and won the opener by a score of 25-17, never trailing.
The Irish attack hit .327 in the opening frame off 19 kills. Bent led the Irish with seven and Nunez dished out 14 assists to lead the attack.
For the second straight set the Irish built an early five-point advantage, leading the Blue Devils 10-5 before the visitors took a timeout. After the stoppage Notre Dame scored the next four points to cap off a 7-0 run to make the score 14-5. Niego carried the Irish in the run with four kills. The Irish cruised the rest of the way to another 25-17 win to take a commanding lead in the match at 2-0.
Notre Dame once again impressed in the attack, hitting .347 for the set off 17 kills. Niego paced the Irish with seven kills in the frame. The Irish defense limited the Blue Devils’ attack to a hitting percentage of just .118, limiting Duke to just eight kills.
The Blue Devils showed some fight coming out of the break between the second and third sets, grabbing a six-point lead at 10-4. The Irish managed to chip away at the lead and draw within one at 21-20 but were unable to draw level and dropped the set with a score of 25-22.
The two sides traded points to begin the fourth frame with the score tied at 4-4. The Irish then completely took over the set, reeling off 11 straight points off Niego’s serve to take a commanding lead at 15-4. The Irish put an exclamation mark on its final regular season match, finishing with a flurry en route to the 25-10 win to take the match 3-1.
The Irish find out their NCAA Tournament fate during the NCAA Selection Show this Sunday, Dec. 1st at 8:30 p.m. ET. The program will air live on ESPNU.
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