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Notre Dame volleyball team sweeps aside Bloomfield
Editor's note: The following story has been changed to reflect the correct spelling of Notre Dame's Karsen Powers.
Notre Dame volleyball coach Tara Stroup had a message for her team before it faced visiting Bloomfield.
"We have had several close games, and probably some of them that were too close, closer than they should have been from what we're capable of," Stroup said. "And I told them that tonight before we started that we need to not worry about the score, not worry about who's on the other side. We need to play our game and make good passes, take good swings."
The Bulldogs executed that brilliantly in a 25-6, 25-8 victory over the Wildcats.
"I'm happy with it," Stroup said.
Senior middle Miranda Fowler put Notre Dame up 6-2 with a kill before rotating back to serve in Game 1.
Fowler served the next 12 points for the Bulldogs, including three aces in that span, before finally missing long. She finished the night with four aces.
Bloomfield's first five points of the match came on Notre Dame errors. The Wildcats did not record a kill until the score was 25-5 in Game 1 thanks in part to Notre Dame's defense.
"I think our defense and our passing has really come [a long way]," Stroup said. "Madeline Rosenquist and Karsen Powers ... just play defense. Karsen's passes tonight were just right on the money, and we get those passes we can run our offense.
"But it's a sad thing when our passing is bad because then we can't swing. I feel like that's improved a lot, so we're playing a lot more solid and getting a lot more kills."
Notre Dame's offense was both efficient and balanced Thursday night, even without senior Sarah Lawrence, who missed the game with a torn abdomen muscle. She is expected back within a couple weeks.
Senior Myriah Bernard finished with 10 kills on 11 attempts. Kelsey Luster had five kills and Taylor Feeney, who filled in for Lawrence on the front row, had three.
"This is the best-hitting team I've ever coached, hands down," said Stroup, who already has called this year's team her hardest working. "Some years you have one really strong hitter. You're lucky to have two, and we have four or five on this team."
Fowler, who is usually at the top of the kill totals for Notre Dame, had six kills in eight attempts.
"It's great because it's not like if you're having an off night you don't have to be like, 'Oh I have to do this,'" Fowler said. "Some teams, they have one good hitter and all the pressure is on them. It's great to not have the pressure, and you know that somebody next to you is going to do just as good or better than you did. It's great."
Notre Dame setter Taylor Ward finished with 19 assists.
Notre Dame led 12-4 in Game 2 before junior Kaitlin Welter, who filled in for Lawrence in the back row, served 10 consecutive points.
Notre Dame improved to 16-1-1 on the season.
"I feel like we're playing a lot better," Fowler said, comparing her team's performance now to the beginning of the season. "This is our only game this week, so we've been working really hard, and I think we're improving."