SU bends, but doesn't break, in win over Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish battled back in the final two sets, but the Orange held strong in a three-set victory and have now won seven of its last nine matches.

The Syracuse University women’s volleyball team returned to the court at the Carrier Dome for one last time this season, and made it count. The Orange grinded out a victory in a mid-week battle against familiar foe Notre Dame.

Syracuse (12-13, 7-6 ACC) succeeded in countering every shift of momentum for Notre Dame (10-14, 4-9 ACC). The Fighting Irish lived up to its name, and kept each set close. However, with two come-from-behind sets, the Orange escaped with a three set victory, by a score of 25-19, 25-23 and 25-23.

Junior outside hitter Nicolette Serratore paced the Orange throughout the match, contributing in multiple facets of the game. Serratore had 15.5 points, 12 kills, nine digs and led the team with three blocks. Freshman setter Erica Handley, on the heels of winning the ACC Freshman of the Week award, tallied 36 assists -- which equaled Notre Dame’s match total -- as well as four digs and two kills.

Syracuse set the tempo during the first set and won with relative ease, 25-19. The Orange distributed the ball and did not make many mistakes. Handley dished out 12 assists in the first set, while Serratore, Silvi Uattara, and Monika Salkute each notched three kills. The defining stat, however, was that Notre Dame committed nine attack errors. Syracuse committed only one.

In the second set, the tables turned for the Orange. Notre Dame came out of the gates strong and held a lead throughout most of the set -- its largest lead had been 22-15. But Syracuse buckled down and outscored the Fighting Irish 10-1 to win the second set in front of a number of potential recruits.

“We’ve been in those situations a couple times in the past few wins that we’ve had,” Serratore said. “We’re confident and we know that we just have to stay calm and get the win.”

In the third set, Syracuse trailed late again, this time down 20-17. It did not make much of a difference, though, as the Orange continued to stay resilient and successfully swept its longtime rival. It took several knockout punches for the Orange to leave victorious, but Handley believes the team’s fight was displayed tonight and will help them as Syracuse progresses through the final month of the regular season.

“I think we’ve really gotten more fight in us,” Handley said. “When we put it all together, we can win.”

Syracuse hits the road this weekend for its next match this Saturday, Nov. 10 at 4 p.m. against Boston College. The Eagles (8-16, 0-12 ACC) are still searching for its first conference win of the season, but the Orange, who are 7-2 over its last nine games, will arrive with plenty of momentum and look to reach an overall .500 record for the first time this season.

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