By Matt Bradshaw —
No. 22 volleyball (14-4, 7-0) maintained their eight-game winning streak and unbeaten conference record with a thrilling comeback victory over Notre Dame (10-7, 4-3). U of L trailed by two sets and fought back for a 3-2 (27-29, 20-25, 25-17, 25-20, 15-12) win.
“Notre Dame makes you earn every single point,” head coach Dani Busboom Kelly said. “They play great defense and they’re a very disciplined team. So when you start making errors, the game gets out of hand real quick. I’m really proud of our group for sticking in there, trusting what we do.”
Power outages earlier in the day cancelled classes on campus and forced volleyball’s match to be played at Sacred Heart Academy. Still supported by a strong showing from Card Nation, Louisville overcame early errors with a solid performance from the front and back rows.
Junior Melanie McHenry led the team with 18 kills and 19 digs all-around. Junior Megan Sloan and freshman Emily Scott combined for 32 kills at the net.
Junior Amanda Green played well throughout and proved clutch late in the match with 13 kills and 13 digs. Senior libero Molly Sauer turned in a great performance in the back row per usual, digging 28.
The hard-fought first set served as a good indicator for how the match would play out. Each point was a battle and volleys became heated as the game carried on. McHenry led the Cards from the front row to a 15-11 lead.
Notre Dame’s blocking abilities were on full display and they hung with Louisville, making a 7-2 run to bring themselves level. Busboom Kelly called a timeout with the score 23-23.
U of L had two separate set points but were unable to take advantage. The Fighting Irish capitalized on their opponent’s attacking errors for two set points of their own. They converted on the second for a 29-27 victory.
ND carried their momentum forward from the previous set. After falling behind 8-7, the Cardinals trailed for the rest of the game and lost 25-20.
Louisville had a 33-23 advantage in kills but hurt their chances with numerous hitting and service errors. After their defeat in the first set, the team was clearly not playing up to their potential.
That changed in the third set as the Cards shot out to a 5-0 edge. U of L maintained a comfortable cushion in their lead and Notre Dame never came within four points. Louisville took the set 25-17.
Notre Dame worked their way to a 6-2 lead before U of L lessened the deficit to 10-9. Green ignited the front row with a pair of kills.
With the score tied 13-13, Scott started a 10-3 run with a kill down the middle. The Fighting Irish still refused to budge and fought back to come within three points. Louisville took the set 25-20.
The Cards held a 6-3 lead in the final set but, as was the case the entire match, Notre Dame kept themselves close. The away team made the score 12-11 and forced Louisville to call a timeout.
An Irish service error and two final kills from McHenry sealed the deal for U of L. They took the set 15-12 for the great 3-2 comeback victory.
Volleyball hosts Virginia Tech on Friday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m.
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Photos by Matt Bradshaw / The Louisville Cardinal