Notre Dame earns berth to NCAA Championship
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, May 18, 2018
The Irish concluded the 2017 season with their first appearance in the NCAA Championship during head coach Jim McLaughlin’s tenure.
The Irish (22-10, 12-8 ACC) opened the season with the second best start in program history, starting the season 6-0 before losing to No. 24 Ohio State in a home and home series. The squad then proceeded to sweep the Shamrock Series, claiming victories over Michigan State, Southern Illinois and Central Michigan before starting ACC play. Although the Irish lost their first three conference matches, the squad bounced back to establish a winning record in ACC play, highlighted by their winning 6 of the last 7 matches.
The Irish would go to finish the season ranked fith overall in the final ACC standings, and first overall in lowest opponent hitting percentage with .156 and digs per set with 18.17.
The Irish posted wins over three top 25 ranked opponents, claiming victory over then No. 24 Ohio State, No. 25 Michigan State and No. 21 Florida State.
Although posting a near identical record to the 2016 season (22-10, 13-7 ACC) the Irish were able to qualify for the NCAA Championship tournament, marking the program’s 19th appearance in the tournament and their first tournament since 2012.
The Irish fell to Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in the first round of the NCAA Championship tournament, losing 3-0 and ending their second straight 20-win season.
Sophomore Jemma Yeadon lead the way for the Irish this season in points followed by Fry and Nunge. Yeadon accumulated 520 points on the season — which ranked fourth in the ACC for points this season. Fry recorded 369 points and Nunge tallied 330. Junior Ryann DeJarld led the ACC in digs per set with 6.12 while, senior Natalie Johnson led the ACC in aces per set.
The trio of Yeadon, DeJarld and Fry earned post season honors for the Irish by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), and earned AVCA All-East Coast Region Team. DeJarld also earned honorable mention All-American honors. The same trio of Yeadon, Fry, and DeJarld also earned All-ACC honors, with Yeadon and Fry earning second team honors and DeJarld earning first team honors — becoming the first player in program history to earn ACC first team honors.
The Irish will graduate six seniors: Sydney Kuhn, Sam Fry, Caroline Holt, Natalie Johnson, Maddie Plumlee and Taylor Zwickl. Seniors Kuhn, Fry, Johnson and Holt have earned a place in program record books. Kuhn ranks ninth in program history in total digs with 1040, tenth in total kills with 950, and ninth in total points contributing 1151 over her four-year career. Fry finished her career ranked second in total blocks with 498, fourth in blocks per set and sixth in career points with 1481. Johnson ranked seventh in program history with 1166 career digs. Holt amassed 2064 assists in two years at Notre Dame, which ranked her fifth overall in program assists and second in assists per set at 10.53.