Aug 30, 2013
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - After a promising European trip and an enthusiastic preseason, the opening match of the 2013 season wasn’t supposed to go like this for the University of Notre Dame volleyball team. This in this circumstance being a 3-0 sweep (25-15, 25-16, 25-15) to the University of North Carolina Friday night at the Blue Raider Bash inside Alumni Memorial Gym on the campus of Middle Tennessee State.
“I’m most disappointed that it really wasn’t even competitive,” said head coach Debbie Brown. “North Carolina was very good. They passed well and their hitters were smart. I give them a lot of credit. But we never put pressure on them to see what would happen. It was disappointing that we didn’t compete with them.
“We were very uncharacteristic in our errors tonight. We are usually a very good serving and passing team but we weren’t able to hit the zones on our serves and our passing wasn’t great, which caused our offense to break down. We were completely out of sync. I always had the confidence in the team that we would turn it around, but we just didn’t.”
While the Tar Heels showed steady play on offense, hitting at a .293 clip and totaling 41 kills spread out fairly evenly through the three sets, the Irish struggled in many facets of the game, especially on the offensive end where they hit just .011 for the match. Notre Dame totaled 24 kills and coupled that total with 23 errors. Juniors Toni Alugbue and Jeni Houser led the way with five kills each for the Irish.
North Carolina, meanwhile, had six players total five or more kills, led by Leigh Andrew’s 11 (.318 A%) and Kayla Berringer’s eight (.500 A%).
The Tar Heels helped the Irish out with eight service errors, but Notre Dame had five of its own to keep momentum from swinging to the side of the Irish.
“We have a lot higher expectations as a team than what we showed tonight,” said senior Andrea McHugh. “The way we came out shocked everyone. Our practices have been much better than this. We have been competing hard and playing at a high level.
“We need to reflect tonight on what each of us can do personally to make the team play at a higher level. Once we get to the gym tomorrow it’s time to play.”
With the loss, Notre Dame falls to 5-2 against North Carolina all-time and to 27-7 in season openers. The Irish will have a chance at redemption in just under a month when they head to Chapel Hill Sept. 28 to meet UNC in the ACC opener for both squads.
The Irish get back to action at the Blue Raider Bash Saturday when they meet host MTSU at 12 p.m. (ET) and San Francisco at 6 p.m. (ET).
"I think the learning that has to take place needs to happen fast," said Brown. "We get to come back tomorrow morning and it's a new day. We need to prove to ourselves that tonight was a fluke. It's good sometimes when you can play right away so you can try to put nights like this out of your mind. We are at a great tournament with great teams so we have our work cut out for us. We need to be pushed and we need to rise to the occasion. I'm very much looking forward to getting back in the gym tomorrow. It's a new day and a new match."
-- Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director