Sept. 1, 2016
By Michael Scholl
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The Notre Dame volleyball team is off to its best start in five years and will look to continue the momentum at home this weekend, playing host to the Shamrock Invitational. No. 24 Purdue, Coastal Carolina and Howard join the hosts in the field.
The Irish captured the Golden Dome Invitational last weekend in Purcell Pavilion, their best start since 2011. Notre Dame has also won 12 straight sets on its home court. Head coach Jim McLaughlin is quick to remind the team it's only the beginning.
"At this point we passed one test, and we've got lots more tests along the way," he told senior associate athletics director John Heisler in a UND.com column earlier this week. "The best thing about the first weekend is that it makes training more meaningful."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
WHAT: 2016 Shamrock Invitational
WHO: Notre Dame, No. 24 Purdue, Coastal Carolina & Howard
WHERE: Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center - Notre Dame, Ind.
WHEN: Friday, Sept. 2
Match 1 - Purdue vs. Howard (4:30 p.m. on WatchND)
Match 2 - Notre Dame vs. Coastal Carolina (7 p.m. on ACC Network Extra)
Saturday, Sept. 3
Match 3 - Coastal Carolina vs. Purdue (10 a.m. on WatchND)
Match 4 - Notre Dame vs. Howard (12:30 p.m. on ESPN3)
Match 5 - Howard vs. Coastal Carolina (4:30 p.m. on WatchND)
Match 6 - Notre Dame vs. Purdue (7 p.m. on ESPN3)
Tickets for all matches are available at UND.com/BuyTickets or in-person at the Murnane Family Ticket Office on match day. Saturday night's showdown between the Irish and Boilermakers is "Jam the Joyce" with tickets just $3.00 and the first 750 fans receiving rally towels.
SCOUTING THE IRISH
The Irish opened the season 3-0, sweeping Seton Hall, Cleveland State and Western Michigan to win the Golden Dome Invitational. Junior Caroline Holt (Bloomington, Ill./Central Catholic/Loyola Chicago) earned tournament MVP honors after averaging 11.67 assists over three matches, a mark which leads the ACC after the first week of action. She was joined on the Golden Dome All-Tournament Team by junior middle blocker Sam Fry (Cincinnati, Ohio/Ursuline) and freshman outside hitter Jemma Yeadon (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island). Fry led the team with 2.78 kills per set, while adding 11 blocks and six service aces. Yeadon played in the just the two matches on Saturday, recording 2.67 kills per set and 21 digs. Leading the Irish defense was sophomore libero Ryann DeJarld (Chicago, Ill./McAuley), whose 4.33 digs per set rank fifth in the ACC, while she’s matched Fry’s six service aces.
SCOUTING THE CHANTICLEERS
Coastal Carolina visits South Bend also having won their season opening tournament after a 3-0 mark at the FIU/Miami Invitational. The Chanticleers secured sweeps of Florida A&M, Florida International and Miami. Leah Hardeman paces Coastal with 3.33 kills per set, in addition to 22 digs which tie for the team high. Natasa Savovic also has 22 digs through three matches. Kate Federico and Sara Boothe have shared setting duties at 6.22 and 4.78 assists per set, respectively. Friday night will be the first-ever meeting between Notre Dame and Coastal Carolina in volleyball.
SCOUTING THE BISON
Howard travels to the Shamrock Invitational with a 4-0 mark following three wins over George Mason, Georgetown and American to win the District of Columbia Volleyball Challenge, followed by a 3-1 decision over UMBC on Tuesday. Khaila Donaldson leads Howard with 3.06 kills per set, followed closely by Jessica Young at 2.50 per set. The attack runs through setter Tamia Dockery, who is averaging 9.62 assists per frame. Morgan Marlbrough anchors the defense at 4.25 digs per set. Notre Dame and Howard have never met in volleyball.
SCOUTING THE BOILERMAKERS
Purdue travels north to its in-state rival with a 2-1 mark in the Mortar Board Premier at Mackey Arena last weekend. The Boilers defeated Wyoming and Washington State before dropping a five-set match to No. 24 Kentucky. Azariah Stahl paced the Purdue attack with 4.50 kills per set while adding 2.08 digs per set. Danielle Cuttino contributed 3.50 kills per set, while the offense runs through setter Ashley Evans who posted 11.17 assists per set. Defensively, Natalie Haben anchors the back row with 3.67 digs per set. Separated by 109 miles of Indiana highway, Notre Dame and Purdue are meeting for the 21st time, with the Boilers holding a 13-7 edge in the series. Purdue has won the last three meetings, which have come the last three seasons. Prior to that, the teams had not met since a four-set Irish victory in 2003.
-- 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.