The team looked pretty good which you can watch on the ACC Network (ESPN App). I enjoyed the cohesion compared to last year with a new coach. All three matches used a tight rotation of 8-9 players. It is still a very young team which actually went younger after the 1st match against Seton Hall.
The first match was the only one which started a senior (Katie Higgens) who didn't play the next 2 matches. Not sure if she got hurt, but in her place ND started Freshman Jemma Yeadon, who didn't play at all against Seton Hall, and she was awesome. She has major hops despite being only 5-9 and recorded a double-double (kills & digs) her 1st match against Cleveland State. She ended up 1 of the 3 Irish on the 8 player all tournament team.
Still the best newcomer was Carolyn Holt (junior transfer from Loyola U) who was named MVP for the tourney. She had 30 assists the 1st game but improved to 38 and 37 as she set up several great kills with excellent passes. She also had 32 digs, which only the Libero starter Ryann Dejarld had more (39). The other all tourney team player was junior Sam Fry, who was ND's best player last year (2nd team all ACC). Still the others who played all made good contributions as it was a great team effort.
The question might be regarding the quality of the opponents but 2 of the teams they played they lost to last year,: Cleveland State, at the Middle Tennessee Blue Raider bash in five sets and Seton Hall at their place. 3-0. This time they were home and the only set that was close was the 2nd set against Western Michigan which the team showed great heart fending off 2 set points and winning 29-27.
Hope this gives some indication they can compete in the ACC this year as last year was tough. They still have 9 more matches before the conference schedule begins with 3 invitationals. The next one is next weekend at Notre Dame which Purdue will be the 1st ranked team they play (preseason 20 AVCA). The next 2 invitationals are at Rhode Island (no top teams) and at Michigan State which is preseason ranked 27. The Purdue and MSU marches should give a strong indication of how good they team may be. Still the ACC starts against perennial Volleyball power and AVCA 23 ranked Louisville at home on September 23.
By the end of the month, we will see if the 2nd year of McLaughlin's tenure shows a big improvement. Still after 3 matches so far so good.
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