The Notre Dame volleyball team proved why they’re one of the favorites in the SOC I this year on Thursday, as they swept the Clay Panthers 25-16, 25-13, 25-18.
The Titans grabbed the momentum of the game from the outset, as they cruised to an easy first-game victory. According to first-year coach Kelsey Glockner, a quick start was a point of emphasis for Notre Dame on Thursday.
“We came out with our game plan and they were just so disciplined with what we set out to do. They set the tone, and it was a great first set,” she said.
That quick start extended into the second set, as the Titans quickly built a 16-5 lead. Much of that came thanks to the play of sophomore Lexi Smith.
“She’s definitely a team leader. She’s a phenomenal front-row player and we’re really big on role-playing — doing what’s best for the team,” Glockner said.
Though the set was all but lost, the Panthers didn’t back down. Lewis Taylor and Lynlee Wells each came up with kills to help Clay string together a small run to keep pace the Titans for the remainder of the game.
“We’re a young team. There’s just times where we do things really well, and times where we make too many mistakes. Sometimes, those mistakes are in a row,” Clay head coach Jill Tipton said.
The momentum Clay built was carried over to the third set, where the Panthers were able to jump out to a quick 8-4 lead.
“We got in a serve/receive rut. The girls have worked really hard on, when that happens, just focusing on the next play,” Glockner said.
It didn’t take long for the Titans to flip the script and work themselves out of the rut. After Smith recorded a kill to send the serve back to Notre Dame, she stepped behind the line and helped the Titans pieced together a 6-0 run to regain the lead.
From there, Notre Dame rode on the back of Emma Monroe. Down the stretch, she recorded a kill, a block and a couple of points to help the Titans wrap up the set and the match.
“She’s a silent leader,” Glockner said. “She’s a phenomenal defensive player.”
With the win, Notre Dame remains atop the SOC I at 4-0. Last season, the Titans finished second in the conference before reaching the regional semifinals in the postseason. This season, they’re looking for their first conference championship since 2005.
“Everyone is all on board to be where they need to be and to set to the hitters,” Glockner said.
The Titans take the court again on Tuesday, when they travel to Willow Wood to take on Symmes Valley.
As for Clay, they’ll host New Boston when they return to action on Tuesday.
“We have a young group. The more they play together, the more they’ll gell and be able to read each other better. That in itself will help us improve,” Tipton said.
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter