Irish bounce back from initial loss to win final two matches
Observer Staff Report | Monday, September 10, 2018
In a busy weekend, Notre Dame completed three games in a span of less than 24 hours. The Irish traveled to Bowling Green, Kentucky, to face Western Kentucky, Miami (Ohio) and Chattanooga in the Holiday Inn–University Plaza Invitational.
Friday night’s contest pitted the Irish against Western Kentucky (6-4), the team that knocked them out of the NCAA tournament last season. The Lady Toppers got off to a strong start to the match, gaining early leads and winning the first two sets 25-17 each.
The Irish, however, would not go down quietly. In the midst of another early deficit, Notre Dame rallied to win the second set 25-23. They then topped that performance in the fourth set, down 24-20 and facing defeat, the Irish stormed back to win 27-25 and take the fourth set.
In the fifth and final set, Western Kentucky again grabbed an early lead, but this time were able to stave off another Irish comeback with a 15-10 set and game victory. Senior libero Ryann Dejarld and senior middle blocker Meg Morningstar each led the team season highs with 23 digs and 10 blocks, respectively. Junior Outside Hitter Jemma Yeadon had 14 kills, tying her season-high in the season-opener versus Weber State, and freshman setter Zoe Nunez tallied 39 assists.
Despite the duration of the first match, the Irish responded only a few hours later with two strong performances. The first of their two Saturday games came against Miami (Ohio) (6-4). Notre Dame jumped on the Redhawks early in the first set, carrying the momentum throughout to win 25-19.
Jemma Yeadon emerged as the dominant figure in the second set, posting six kills in that frame alone to give the Irish a 25-16 victory and 2-0 lead on the match. Despite an attempted rally, Notre Dame handled business and swept Miami. Yeadon tallied 12 kills on the game, but freshman right side hitter Sydney Bent also stood out with a career-high 6 aces. Morningstar contributed 4 blocks and Nunez another 31 assists.
In the final game of their schedule, the Irish maintained their wave of dominance, sweeping their match against Chattanooga (4-6). It was an impressive performance over the Mocs as the Irish posted another 3-0 victory. Notre Dame controlled the first set, tying a season low of 10 points allowed. The Mocs gained their footing and were more competitive in the following sets, but Notre Dame handled business to win the second set 25-18 and the third 25-22.
Bench players played a key role in Notre Dame’s success. Bent continued her impactful day with a career-high seven kills, tying Morningstar’s seven kills to lead the team in that category. Nunez had a season-low 19 assists, which can be attributed to sophomore setter Monroe Olsen’s season-high nine assists. Junior outside hitter Lauren Woodard also was a factor, providing six kills in the win.
Morningstar and Nunez were both named to the all-tournament team. Morningstar had a team-leading 15 blocks for the weekend as well as 19 kills. Nunez supplied 89 assists, 22 digs and three blocks for the team.
The Irish travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the opening of a home-and-home series with Michigan on Friday.