Nov. 13, 2014
Notre Dame @ Wake Forest
: Free / Wake Forest All-Access: Paid
Friday, Nov 14, 2014 – 6:30 p.m. (ET)
Records: Notre Dame (6-18, 3–10 ACC), Wake Forest (13–13, 3–9 ACC)
Notre Dame @ Duke (Receiving Votes)
Live Stats: Free / ESPN3: Check Local Subscriber
Sunday, Nov 16, 2014 – 1 p.m. (ET)
Cameron Indoor Stadium
Records: Notre Dame (6-18, 3–10 ACC), Duke (18–6, 10–3 ACC)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Looking to carry the momentum of a thrilling 3-2 win over Louisville to the Tar Heel State, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team heads out for its last road trip of the season this weekend to meet Atlantic Coast Conference foes Wake Forest and Duke.
Notre Dame (6-18, 3-10 ACC) makes its first appearance at Reynolds Gymnasium on the Demon Deacons’ campus at 6:30 p.m. Friday before busing to historic Cameron Indoor Stadium for a 1 p.m. Sunday showdown with Duke (18-6, 10-3 ACC).
Wake Forest (13-13, 3-9 ACC) has lost eight of its last nine matches after beginning the year 12-5 with a non-conference schedule littered with low major opponents. The Demon Deacons won two of their first three ACC matches against Virginia Tech and NC State, but have hit the skids since, claiming only a 3-2 win over Georgia Tech last Friday night.
Despite the tough recent stretch, the Deacs have some talented student-athletes. Jazmen Russell leads the ACC in kills (420) and is second in kills per set (4.33), while Matalee Reed is fifth in the league in attack percentage (.366). Elsewhere, setter Danae Rosendall is ninth in assists per set (7.74) and libero Caroline Wolf is third in digs per set (4.30).
The two schools have met just twice before – in 1982 and last year at Purcell Pavilion. In a year full of frustrating matches for the Irish, the home loss to the Demon Deacons last October ranks right near the top after Notre Dame let a 2-0 lead turn into a 3-2 loss.
Ranked in the AVCA Coaches Top 25 poll for much of the season, the Blue Devils dropped out of the poll this week after a 3-2 home loss to Pitt. While still receiving votes, the Blue Devils are looking to get out of a recent funk that has seen them go 3-3 in their last six matches after starting the year 15-3. Included in the hot start was a 3-1 win over Notre Dame last month at Purcell Pavilion.
In that meeting, Duke jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead before losing set three to the Irish. Notre Dame tried to force a deciding fifth set, but Duke held on with a razor-thin 25-23 victory in set four. Notre Dame recorded 11 blocks in the match, but only produced 49 kills to 65 for the Blue Devils.
The Blue Devils still pace the league is several categories – hitting percentage (.272), assists per set (13.97), kills per set (14.78) and digs per set (16.78). Standout libero Sasha Karelov is far and away the most active libero in the league, as she averages 5.41 digs per set, 0.84 better than the next closest libero. Meanwhile, setter Kelsey Williams is the only setter in the ACC to average over 11 assists per set (11.61). She helps set up Emily Sklar, who sits third in the ACC in kills per set (4.12).
Notre Dame, meanwhile, looks to carry the momentum of Sunday’s big win over Louisville as it heads south. Trailing 2-0, the Irish won back-to–back sets to force their fifth five-set match in the last six contests. In that final frame, grad student Nicole Smith took over, as she recorded five kills in the last nine points to help lead Notre Dame to victory.
Heading into the match against the Demon Deacons, the Irish are looking to piece together just their second two-match winning streak of the season as well as claim their first true road victory. In non-conference action, Notre Dame won a pair of neutral site contests, but is 0-9 in other road matches. After getting swept in their first seven road matches, the Irish took both Virginia and Boston College to five sets before ultimately faltering late.
The Irish have been playing well as a team recently, as no individual has had to carry the load. Five different players have totaled 40 or more kills in the last six matches, while Notre Dame as a team is averaging 1.32 service aces per set, up from 1.13 for the year.
Fans can follow both matches through live stats and online video. Friday’s match is a paid stream through Wake Forest All-Access, while Sunday’s contest will be streamed live on ESPN3. Links for live stats and online video are on UND.com.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director