Aug. 25, 2016
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The Notre Dame volleyball team opens its 2016 campaign Friday-Saturday, Aug. 26-27, hosting the Golden Dome Invitational. The host Irish will take the court along with Cleveland State, Seton Hall and Western Michigan.
Head coach Jim McLaughlin enters his second season at the helm of the Irish program in 2016, knowing the second year brings higher expectations with it.
"We should win at the highest level," McLaughlin says. "That's the expectation and they're not shying away from it. You can't come to Notre Dame and shy away from the expectations."
Regardless of the expectations, the time has come for the Irish to take the court this weekend. McLaughlin expects his team to put in the work necessary to meet the rising standards.
"There are no limits," he said. "What they have to understand is there is a lot of work. We can get what we want if the work is realized. That's the hard part. The theme, the foundation is to get better in everything we do."
To purchase tickets for this weekend's matches or the entire home slate, visit UND.com/BuyTickets. Commemorative poster programs and schedule coasters will be available while supplies last.
WHAT: 2016 Golden Dome Invitational
WHO: Notre Dame, Cleveland State, Seton Hall & Western Michigan
WHERE: Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center - Notre Dame, Ind.
WHEN: Friday, August 26
Match 1 - Western Michigan vs. Cleveland State (4:30 p.m. on WatchND)
Match 2 - Notre Dame vs. Seton Hall (7 p.m. on ACC Network Extra)
Saturday, August 27
Match 3 - Seton Hall vs. Western Michigan (10 a.m. on WatchND)
Match 4 - Notre Dame vs. Cleveland State (12:30 p.m. on ACC Network Extra)
Match 5 - Cleveland State vs. Seton Hall (4:30 p.m. on WatchND)
Match 6 - Notre Dame vs. Western Michigan (7 p.m. on ACC Network Extra)
SCOUTING THE IRISH
Notre Dame enters the 2016 campaign looking to improve on McLaughlin’s first season and boasts an impressive mixture of returners and newcomers to take the next step as a program. Junior middle blocker Sam Fry (Cincinnati, Ohio/Ursuline) leads the returning group on the attack after posting 2.92 kills per set and a .231 hitting percentage during a sophomore campaign which saw her earn second team All-ACC honors. Classmate Sydney Kuhn (Wichita, Kan./Papaun Mt. Carmel Catholic) ranked just behind Fry with 2.22 kills per set, while adding a team-best 29 service aces. The Irish will see a new face setting-up the attack, as Maddie Dilfer departs after leading the team with 8.58 assists per set last year. Junior Taylor Zwickl (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) is the leading returner thanks to 153 total assists last year, while McLaughlin added a pair of setters in junior transfer Caroline Holt (Bloomington, Ill./Central Catholic/Loyola Chicago) and freshman Hanna Klein (Pacific Palisades, Calif./Marymount). Defensively, sophomore libero Ryann DeJarld (Chicago, Ill./McAuley) returns following a team-leading 4.04 digs per set a year ago. All told, Notre Dame returns another three players who recorded at least 100 digs last year, including Kuhn at 2.40 per set, libero Natalie Johnson (Pasadena, Calif./Mayfield Senior) at 2.15 per set and libero Kelly Byrne (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Marymount) at 1.66 per set.
SCOUTING THE PIRATES
Seton Hall travels to Notre Dame for the first time since the teams were members of the BIG EAST Conference, returning five starters including two-time BIG EAST Libero of the Year Tessa Fournier. The senior was also a unanimous preseason all-conference selection after leading the league in digs (5.16 per set). Sophomore setter Sophia Coffey is already among SHU’s all-time top 10 in assists, recording 1,056 helpers during her rookie campaign.
Notre Dame and Seton Hall met 19 times as members of the BIG EAST from 1995-2012. The Irish took all 19 of those meetings. Last year, Notre Dame was defeated by the Pirates for the first time, as the Hall took a three-set match, 25-12, 25-17, 25-22.
SCOUTING THE VIKINGS
Cleveland State embarks on 2016 looking to defend the Horizon League title behind the return of three All-Horizon selections a season ago. Grace Kauth was a first team honoree after ranking second on the team in both kills (3.58/set) and digs (2.64/set). Alexis Middlebrooks was an AVCA Honorable Mention All-Region selection and first team all-conference after leading CSU in blocks (1.16/set) and hitting percentage (3.29). Rachel Stover was a Horizon League All-Newcomer Team designee after recording 153 kills and 66 blocks during her rookie season.
Notre Dame and Cleveland State have split four previous meetings on the court. Lats year, the Irish and Vikings met in Murfreesboro, Tenn., at the Blue Raider Bash with CSU taking a dramatic five-set win (25-18, 21-25, 21-25, 25-22, 15-13). That was the first meeting since 1994.
SCOUTING THE BRONCOS
Western Michigan visits South Bend having been picked second in the MAC West Division behind preseason all-division pick Sydney LeMay. LeMay led the team with 2.81 kills per set last season, pacing the Broncos to a 15-18 mark and a 10-6 record in Mid-American play. Notre Dame and Western Michigan have played 18 times, splitting the series 9-9. The teams last met in the Golden Dome Invitational in 2014, with the Broncos sweeping the match (25-22, 25-20, 25-21).
-- ND --
Michael Scholl joined Fighting Irish Media as athletics communications assistant director in August 2016, coordinating efforts for the volleyball and baseball programs at his alma mater. The South Bend native earned a degree in political science from the College of Arts & Letters in 2009 before going on to work in athletics communications at Providence College, Vanderbilt and Cincinnati. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in sport administration at the University of Cincinnati.