Sept. 15, 2016
By Robby Hamman
NOTRE DAME, Ind. --The Notre Dame volleyball team wraps up its non-conference portion of the schedule over the weekend with the Spartan Classic hosted by Michigan State. The Irish play Maryland Eastern Shore and Michigan State on Friday, Sept. 16 before taking on DePaul on Saturday.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
WHAT: 2016 Spartan Classic
WHO: Notre Dame, DePaul, Maryland Eastern Shore & Michigan State (host)
WHERE: Jenison Field House – East Lansing, Mich.
WHEN: Friday, Sept. 16
11:30 a.m. – Notre Dame vs. UMES | Live Stats | Live Stream
5 p.m. – DePaul vs. UMES
7 p.m. – Notre Dame vs. Michigan State | Live Stats | Live Stream
Saturday, Sept. 17
11:30 a.m. – UMES vs. Michigan State
1 p.m. – Notre Dame vs. DePaul | Live Stats | Live Stream
6 p.m. – DePaul vs. Michigan State
Head Coach Jim McLaughlin
On factors that have led to a 7-2 start...
“The girls are making progress so we are getting a little bit of a return and they understand that they are getting a return. They are accepting the challenge every week to get better. They are more mindful and have been training with more intensity, which helps them retain what they are doing. They have been controlling their thoughts and bodies better and are seeing things better. It’s just a process of improvement. They also understand that we have to make a lot of progress and that’s the deal.”
On the final tune-up before ACC play…
“We are building towards conference play. The tests are different every week, we had to take some tests on the road and for the most part we have passed those tests. We just need to see some improvement in some areas and cleanup some areas. If you’re not making improvements or controlling some problems then those problems will stay with you so we need to address those areas.
On playing a true road match against No. 22 Michigan State…
“We need to focus internally and not look sideways. We have to control what we can control and understand our routines and what we want to do. We need to play with emotion but not let the emotion overboil you. The attention has to be on what is happening in the moment. If we can do that we really have a chance to perform at a higher level but getting our fundamentals in place is critical. I want to see stronger, better fundamentals that are more consistent.
NUMBER TO KNOW: 8
With a win against Maryland Eastern Shore in the first match of the Spartan Classic the Irish would have a record of 8-2 on the season, which would be the program’s best start since 2005.
SCOUTING THE IRISH
Notre Dame is off to its best starts in seven seasons, posting a 7-2 record. The last time the Irish won seven of its first nine contests came in the 2010 season. Notre Dame is coming off a sweep of the Art Carmichael Invitational, defeating Stony Brook (3-0), San Diego State (3-0) and Rhode Island (3-1) in Kingston, Rhode Island last weekend. Sophomore libero Ryann DeJarld was named the MVP of the tourney after posting 40 digs in three matches (4.00 per set). The attacking trio of Sam Fry, Rebecca Nunge and Jemma Yeadon has combined for 193 kills (2.57 per set). Junior setter Caroline Holt has made an immediate impact since transferring to Notre Dame this season, as she ranks 21st in the nation and 2nd in the ACC with 11.1 assists per set.
SCOUTING THE HAWKS
Maryland Eastern Shore enters the weekend with a 7-5 mark in the 2016 campaign. The Hawks are coming off a tough weekend, dropping three matches to Washington State, Idaho and George Washington at the Cougar Challenge in Pullham, Washington. Maryland Eastern Shore is led by sophomore Lucia Babic, who has a team-best average of 2.46 kills per set with an impressive .300 attacking percentage. The defense is anchored by sophomore Zuzana Ondruskova, who is leading the Hawks in digs with an average of 3.14 per set. This weekend’s matchup will be the first between the Hawks and Irish in program history.
SCOUTING THE SPARTANS
Michigan State, ranked 22nd in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll, is off to an 8-1 start on the season, including wins in its last three outings. The Spartans only defeat of the season came at the hands of No. 7 Florida by a score of 3-0. Michigan State has excelled from the service line, recording 1.80 aces per set to rank 26th nationally. Junior setter Rachel Minarick is coming off an MVP performance at the Western Kentucky Invitational, averaging 9.27 assists per set over the three matches. Senior Chloe Reinig has been a force at the net through nine matches, leading the Spartans in kills with an average of 3.11 per set. Friday’s meeting will be the 12th between the Irish and Spartans. MSU holds a 7-4 advantage in the all-time series, however, Notre Dame was victorious in the most recent matchup claiming a 3-1 win on Sept. 17, 2014 at the Gamecock Invitational.
SCOUTING THE BLUE DEMONS
DePaul comes to the Spartan Classic with a 5-4 record. The Blue Demons went 2-1 last weekend at the DePaul Invitational, defeating USF and Albany before falling to UIC. 8-of-9 matches have gone 4+ sets for DePaul this season, including six straight. Brittany Maxwell averages a team-best 3.62 kills per set for the Blue Demons and has an impressive attacking percentage of .347. Former Big East foes, DePaul and Notre Dame will meet for the 19th time on Saturday afternoon. The Irish lead the series with a mark of 14-4 and have won each of the last 10 meetings. Notre Dame was victorious in the most recent installment, rolling to a straight-set win on October 12, 2012 in Chicago.
-- ND --
Robby Hamman joined Fighting Irish Media as athletics communications assistant director in September 2016, coordinating efforts for the volleyball and men’s lacrosse program. Hamman is a 2010 graduate of Bethel College, where he earned bachelor's degrees in sport management and business administration, and earned his master's degree in business administration from Defiance College in 2013.