Sept. 19, 2014
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Behind a season-high 13 kills and six blocks from freshman Sam Fry and 16 kills and four blocks from senior Jeni Houser, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team jumped out to a 2-0 lead over Morehead State and held on to defeat the Eagles, 3-2 (25-20, 25-18, 15-25, 22-25, 15-11), Friday afternoon at the Purdue Active Ankle Challenge.
Playing in their first five-set match of the season, the Irish (2-7) looked impressive in sets one and two against the Eagles, hitting .250 in the first frame and .333 in the second to jump out to a 2-0 lead. However, Morehead State (0-11) wouldn’t give up as it rallied to force a fifth and deciding set.
In the final frame, the Irish came out on fire and opened up an 8-3 lead over the Eagles on a kill by freshman Sydney Kuhn. Morehead State fought back with a 5-1 run to trim the Irish margin to just one. A couple of points later, the Irish took a three-point lead (12-9) on a kill from grad student Nicole Smith and a solo block by sophomore Katie Higgins that forced an Eagle timeout. Notre Dame made it 13-9 on a kill by junior setter Hanna Muzzonigro and finished off the match a couple of points later on Smith’s second kill of the set and Higgins’ second solo block of the frame.
Three blocks in the third set upped Notre Dame’s total to 13.5 for the match as Fry boasted six, Higgins had five and Houser tallied four to lead the way. The Irish also served well throughout the match as they produced six aces as opposed to five errors.
On offense, Houser recorded 10+ kills for the 67th time in her career, while Fry went over her previous season best of 11 kills in tallying 13. Smith finished with 11 kills to give the Irish three players with double-figure kill totals.
Freshman libero Natalie Johnson posted 13 digs and recorded a service ace.
Morehead State’s Laura McDermott posted 14 kills and hit .387, while teammate Hannah Sigala tallied match highs in kills (16), attack percentage (.423) and blocks (7).
The Irish get back into action tonight with a 5 p.m. match against Saint Louis (9-3). The Billikens claimed an impressive five-set win over No. 11 Purdue Friday morning.
The Irish trailed early in set one, facing deficits of four (10-6) and three (17-14). However, Notre Dame used the momentum gained from an untimely Eagle service error to make a comeback. Behind the serving of Dilfer, the Irish tied the frame at 17 and forced an MSU timeout. Tied at 18 and again at 19, Notre Dame gained a two-point lead after an attack error on the Eagles and a service ace from Johnson. After MSU trimmed the lead to one at 21-20, the Irish reeled off four consecutive points – highlighted by two Fry kills – to claim the set win. Houser led the Irish with five kills, while Smith and Fry posted four each. Despite the set being close throughout, it featured just three ties and one lead change.
Notre Dame took a 2-0 lead after a 25-18 victory in set two. The final score was not indicative of the competitiveness of the set as it featured nine ties and three lead changes. A back-and-forth set, ND led by just one at 19-18. However, a remarkable run at the end of the set for the second frame in a row put the Irish up 2-0. Within the 6-0 run were two block assists by Fry and Houser and one kill each by the duo to give the set its final two points. Houser had six kills in the set to up her total to 11, while Smith had four. The Irish attacked at a .333 clip.
Trailing 2-0, Morehead State breezed to a 25-15 win in set three after some early troubles. With the set tied at six, the Eagles went on a remarkable 17-4 run to take a 23-10 lead. Notre Dame scored five of the next six points to trim the lead to 24-15, but a kill from Alex Fitzmorris gave MSU the set. Morehead State hit .290 for the frame, while limiting the Irish to a .030 attack percentage.
Morehead State took set four, 25-22, to force Notre Dame into its first five setter of the 2014 season. The Irish led by four late in the set (20-16), but four consecutive points from the Eagles tied the match at 20. A couple of points later, a kill from Houser trimmed the Eagle lead to 23-22. However, a block by Fitzmorris and Sigala and an attack error on the Irish pushed the match to the fifth set. Notre Dame hit in the negatives (-.065) for the set, only totaling seven kills on 31 chances.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director