After dropping the first two sets, the University of Louisville volleyball team came back to defeat Notre Dame 3-2 (27-29, 20-25, 25-17, 25-20, 15-12) at Sacred Heart Academy on Wednesday night.
“Notre Dame makes you earn every single point. They play great defense and they’re a very disciplined team,” said head coach Dani Busboom-Kelly. “When you start making errors, the game gets out of hand real quick. I’m really proud of our group for sticking in there and trusting what we do.”
The Cardinals had to move the match to Sacred Heart Academy after a power outage left the UofL campus and Cardinal Arena in the dark. Despite the distraction, the Cardinals kept their 7-0 unbeaten mark in the ACC while moving to 14-4 on the season. UofL hit .247 for the match with nine blocks, three aces and 87 digs. Melanie McHenry paced the Cards with 19 kills and 19 digs. Emily Scott had a season-high 15 kills and three blocks with Megan Sloan connecting for 17 kills and three blocks. Amanda Green had 13 kills and 13 digs. Setter Wilma Rivera had 62 assists and Molly Sauer had a match-high 28 digs. Notre Dame hit .203 with five aces and 11 blocks. The Irish were led by freshman Charley Niego’s 21 kills.
Louisville and Notre Dame began the match by trading points back and forth until the teams were tied at 11. The Cardinals began to breakaway, taking the next four points to mount their biggest lead of the first set, 15-11. The Fighting Irish continued to stay close, coming back to take their first lead of the set at 24-23. While Louisville came within a point of clinching the set, Notre Dame tied and took the next two points to win the first set, 29-27. Melanie McHenry and Megan Sloan combined for 13 kills while McHenry and Molly Sauer each tallied seven digs.
After Louisville jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set, a service error gave the Irish their first point of the set. The teams tied at ten before Notre Dame built their biggest lead of the set at 20-16. Louisville was unable to overcome the deficit and dropped the second set 25-20. Sloan had the team-high four kills while Sauer added four digs in the second set.
With the match on the line, the Cardinals came out firing, jumping to a 5-0 lead before the Irish claimed a point. After increasing the lead to 10 points at 14-4, Notre Dame began an offensive attack that saw Louisville’s lead get cut to 21-16. The Cardinals got the final point of the set on a Notre Dame service error to claim the victory 25-17. The Cardinals posted their best hitting percentage of the night in the third set at .457.
Despite falling behind early in the fourth set at 6-2, the Cardinals rallied to tie the set at 12. From there, the Cardinals continued to build their lead, reaching 19-14 before forcing Notre Dame to call a timeout. While the Irish made it close at 23-20, back-to-back kills by Emily Scott and Amanda Green put the set away for the Cardinals, 25-20. Louisville posted another strong hitting percentage at .343 while holding Notre Dame to .195. Green tallied five kills for Louisville while Sauer added seven digs.
In another back-and-forth set, Louisville and Notre Dame traded points until the Cardinals found a short run to take the four-point lead at 10-6. The Irish fought and pulled within a point for the final rallies, but an Irish service error and a McHenry kill sealed the match for the Cardinals, taking the set 15-12.
Louisville continues its homestand on Friday when it hosts Virginia Tech at 7 p.m. at Cardinal Arena.