Irish look to continue undefeated start
Meagan Bens | Friday, August 31, 2018
Starting the season with a 3-0 record after their Golden Dome Invitational, the Irish will host Oakland on Friday at 6 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.
In addition to contributing to the winning streak, the squad’s freshmen have made their debut and a lasting impression on head coach Mike Johnson. Against Northern Kentucky, setter Zoe Nunez recorded 32 assists and 15 digs for her first double-double career, and she also earned ACC Volleyball Co-Freshman of the Week. In total, Nunez recorded 84 assists, 22 digs and 8 blocks at the Golden Dome Invitational.
“They are some young kids and they bring some enthusiasm and energy,” Johnson said. “And they don’t play like freshmen. They are learning just like all freshmen are learning, but they went hard and they can get better and they will get better. If they keep working right, they can be special.”
Along with the freshmen finding their roles on the team, senior Ryann DeJarld and junior Jemma Yeadon were placed on the Preseason All-ACC Team. The pair helped to bring stability to the team, Johnson said.
“Both have just been playing a lot they are able to help the team and guide us,” Johnson said. “Ryann brings an intensity every day that I appreciate. She is as competitive as they come. She pushes people. Jemma has a spirit that she is only starting to tap into, and I think there is way more in there and you are going to see a player who could make it big time.”
With Oakland in view and the team continually building upon the young talent it has, Johnson said he is not focused on who the team is playing, but rather how it plays.
“I’m familiar with them, but I don’t think we have played them at my time at Notre Dame, but they are coached by a friend of mine,” Johnson said. “I think they have some good pieces and players and they are usually well coached and looking forward to a good match.”
Even though Johnson said every year the Irish field a different team, and that he does not like to compare a current team to the last one, he said there is the expectation to improve upon the last season. Last year was the first time since 2012 the Irish have returned to the NCAA championship, finishing with a 22-10 record.
“This is the University of Notre Dame, where you can truly be the best of the best academically and athletically,” Johnson said. “That’s what we are striving towards. This is one of the greatest universities in the world, and we have to have a volleyball program that represents that. There was a three-week stretch, fencing wins a national title, women’s basketball wins, hockey is in title game. When I see that, I say this is ND. So why not us. Ask me where we are going to fall this year, I don’t know. All I know is if we keep getting better every day, we can be really good. The expectation is very high and it should be.”