Irish set for home-and-home with Wolverines
Meagan Bens | Friday, September 14, 2018
After competing in the Holiday Inn-University Plaza Invitational last weekend, Notre Dame will travel north to face No. 19 Michigan on Friday and then host the Wolverines at home Sunday.
The Irish (6-2) and Wolverines (9-0) resume their rivalry after last playing in 2009. Notre Dame holds the historic advantage in the matchup with an all-time 8-5 record against Michigan, including a 5-1 mark when playing at home and an even 3-3 record in Ann Arbor.
Facing three teams last weekend, the Irish walked away with two wins. The one loss was to Western Kentucky, the team they fell to in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season. Head coach Mike Johnson said the game served as a lesson for upcoming matches.
“Certainly you never want to lose. The thing for us, we are just learning about preparation and learning that our preparation in practice will lead to our results during game day,” Johnson said. “So you have to prepare for every opponent well or you run the risk that someone will send you home sad. I have a lot of respect for that team. As we learn more about ourselves and execute more on daily basis, then I really like our team.”
In the first two matches, junior outside hitter Jemma Yeadon had her fourth double-digit kills performance in six matches against Western Kentucky, with 14 kills. Yeadon went on to lead the attack with 12 kills against Miami of Ohio, along with senior libero Ryann DeJarld’s team-best 19 digs. During the last match against Chattanooga, the freshmen made an impact with freshman hitter Sydney Bent’s seven kills and freshman setter Zoe Nunez’s team-best 19 assists.
“Three out of the four freshmen started again,” Johnson said. “Sydney played all around and did a good job in Chattanooga. They will continue to compete for positions, and we will wait to see where things fall.”
While the Irish offense has been effective, the team’s defense has been even better. Notre Dame currently holds the second-best hitting percentage allowed this season (.094), trailing only their upcoming opponent (.093) by the slimmest of margins. Playing their home-and-home series against a Big Ten opponent in Michigan, who is currently undefeated, head coach Mike Johnson said he is not concerned with statistics or how the rivals stack up on paper.
“It’s early in the year, and we are still working on us,” Johnson said. “Michigan is a good team, and they play the game well. We are certainly ready for things they can do. Volleyball is volleyball at the end of day, and we are just continuing to improve our ability to play the game.”
Although Michigan is the only team that has a quick turnaround in the schedule with Notre Dame, Johnson said it prepares them for future conference matchups.
“It is a little bit of a precursor in conference life — you play a team and time passes, make the adjustments and you’re quickly playing again,” Johnson said. “Michigan is just a microcosm of that. Two days apart, learn more about them and have the opportunity to make adjustments for next game. It’s a good warm-up for that.”
The Irish will take on the Wolverines at 7 p.m. Friday in Ann Arbor and will return to Purcell Pavilion to play them at 1 p.m. Sunday.