Irish split opening weekend of conference play
Observer Sports Staff | Monday, September 24, 2018
The Irish traveled to North Carolina to open ACC play against North Carolina and North Carolina State this weekend, where they split their games.
The Irish (7-5, 1-1 ACC) opened the weekend with a sweep of the Tar Heels (4-7. 0-2 ACC) on Friday behind freshman right-sided hitter Sydney Bent and junior outside hitter Jemma Yeadon’s strong offensive performances with 15 and 14 kills, respectively. Senior libero Ryann DeJarld’s 16 digs also helped jumpstart the Irish.
After the Irish jumped out on the Tar Heels early with a 25-11 victory in the first set, North Carolina quickly responded, going toe-to-toe with the Irish in the second set, until the Irish were able to separate halfway through the set. Three key kills down the stretch from Yeadon helped to hold off Tar Heels in a 25-20 set victory, allowing the Irish to continue their hot start. The third set mirrored the second with Notre Dame finishing off the game with a 25-22 victory and completing the sweep in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. This shutout — the seventh of the season for the Irish — marked the first conference win for the team under new head coach Mike Johnson.
With one day of rest, Notre Dame took on NC State (7-5, 1-1 ACC) in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Irish looked again to strike early in the first set, leading the Wolfpack 21-19, but a late 5-0 push by the Wolfpack halted this effort and handed the Irish their first set loss of the weekend.
After finding themselves down late in the set, the Irish tried to battle back from a 21-16 deficit, once again in a close affair in the second set. While Notre Dame managed to bring the score within one point at 21-20, however, the set eventually ended with a Wolfpack win, 25-22. The Irish fought back through 10 ties and five lead changes in the third set to avoid the sweep. As they looked to tie the match in the fourth set, the Irish once again found themselves up 22-19. However, a 6-0 run by NC State shut out their comeback hopes and handed the Irish their first conference loss of the season. Notre Dame was once again led by Yeadon’s 18 and freshman outside hitter Charley Niego’s 16 kills, along with a career-setting performance from freshman setter Zoe Nunez with 48 assists.
Looking ahead, the Irish will continue their ACC road tour as they take on Clemson and Georgia Tech this upcoming weekend, as the Tigers and the Yellow Jackets are looking to bounce back from losses to earn their first ACC win. Following those two matchups, the Irish will return home for two home games.