Nov. 19, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - After a pair of tough setbacks in the Sunshine State last weekend, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team is back home in the comforts of Purcell Pavilion where it will close out the season with four consecutive matches starting with Atlantic Coast Conference foes Virginia Tech (7 p.m. Wednesday) and Virginia (4:30 p.m. Friday).
"Last weekend was a little indicative of how we have played all season," said head coach Debbie Brown. "We were up and down. We had some sets where we played very well and some where we got beaten pretty decisively. It's been a little bit of an enigma because it's never been the same thing. Sometimes we pass really well and other times we won't. We've had the same problems with hitting as well. We were obviously disappointed in the matches, but we are taking the rest of the season one day at a time, one practice at a time. We want to finish as strong as we can."
Wednesday's opponent Virginia Tech (21-9, 9-7 ACC) has had a solid year thus far as they sit fifth in the ACC standings and are fighting for an at-large spot in the NCAA Championship.
A big reason for their success is an efficient offense, which is third in the ACC with a .254 attack percentage while generating 13.45 kills per set, good for fourth in the conference. Leading the charge is senior middle blocker Victoria Hamsher, who is tops in the league in hitting (.410 attack percentage). Junior Kathryn Caine isn't far behind as she is fourth in the conference with a .340 hitting percentage.
Last time the two teams met, the Irish had a season-high 18 blocks, but hit just .116 as they produced only 39 kills in a 3-1 loss. Notre Dame actually kept Hamsher in check as she attacked at a -.133 clip with only four kills, but Caine went off, tallying 16 kills with just two errors to hit .483.
Fans that arrive early will receive a free t-shirt, while a special deal will allow fans to receive four tickets, four hot dogs and four drinks for only $20.
Friday's opponent Virginia (15-13, 8-8 ACC) is battling to secure a winning record overall and in league play. The Cavaliers sport three standouts that have tallied over 325 kills in Tori Janowski, Haley Kole and Jasmine Burton. Janowski (fourth) and Kole (eighth) both find themselves near the top of the ACC. Setting this impressive trio up is sophomore Lauren Fuller, who is second in the ACC with 11.17 assists per set.
Last time the two squads met up, the Irish had an impressive first set, but couldn't maintain the momentum as they went on to lose 3-1. Virginia powered home and impressive 65 kills while hitting .363. Notre Dame, meanwhile, could only muster 45 kills in 119 opportunities.
Admission is free for fans for the 4:30 p.m. match that will give interested parties time to jump from volleyball, to the pep rally at 5:45 p.m. at Compton Family Ice Arena and back to Purcell for the men's basketball game at 9 p.m.
Both matches can be followed through gametracker. In addition, Wednesday's match against VT will be on ESPN3 with Ryan Camden and Jimmy Moley on the call. Friday's match versus UVA will be a WatchND broadcast. Links for gametracker and both video broadcasts are on UND.com.
As the Irish close out the 2013 campaign, several student-athletes continue to work their way up the school record books.
Junior Jeni Houser is 31 kills away from becoming the 21st player in school history to reach 1,000 kills.
Senior setter Maggie Brindock went over 3,000 career assists this weekend (3,045) and is 49 away from tying for fifth place in school history.
Senior Andrea McHugh is eight service aces away from 100 for her career and is also moving up the career digs ledger as she sits in ninth place with 1,233. She is 40 away from tying for eighth place.
McHugh has also played in 439 sets in her career. She'll break into the top 10 by playing in just two sets and 12 more sets would put her into a tie for sixth place.
For more information on Notre Dame volleyball check out its Facebook (/NDVolleyball) and Twitter (@NDVolleyball) pages.
-- Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director