Irish set to host multiple matches this weekend
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, October 5, 2018
After winning two matches against Clemson and Georgia Tech last weekend, the Irish will battle two more conference opponents, Wake Forest and Duke, at home this weekend.
Ranking fourth in the conference with a 9-5 overall record and 3-1 ACC record, Notre Dame swept Clemson (9-9, 0-5 ACC) 3-0 this past Friday. Opening with a 25-20 set, the Irish carried the momentum into the subsequent sets, winning 25-21 in the second set and battling back and forth in the third and coming out on top, 25-23.
Freshmen outside hitters Charley Neigo and Sydney Bent and junior outside hitter Jemma Yeadon totaled 37 of Notre Dame’s 47 kills throughout the three sets. Another freshman, setter Zoe Nunez, made her mark by leading the team with 40 assists.
Traveling to Atlanta to face the Yellow Jackets (12-6, 1-4) on Sunday, the Irish kept their composure to walk away with the 3-2 win. Notre Dame took the first two sets before Georgia Tech came back to tie the match at 2-2, but the Irish led to earn the 15-12 win. The win was the the first the Irish have not recorded via sweep this year, as eight out of Notre Dame’s nine wins have come in straight-set sweeps during the 2018 season.
Freshman faces Niego, Bent and Nunez showed up again, Niego recording a career-high 23 kills, Bent posting 17 kills and Nunez notching a career-high of 64 assists through the five sets. Niego became the first player to earn both ACC Player and Freshman of the Week honors since 2010. The freshman outside hitter earned the accolades after totaling 36 kills and a .307 hitting percentage in the two matches. Niego has been a key addition to the squad this season, as she is second on the team in kills with 141, second in digs with 145 and has now reached the double-digit kill mark in six matches this season, including four of the last five.
In addition to the freshman making an impact on the court, senior middle blocker Meg Morningstar has posted a team-high of 72 blocks, averaging 1.47 blocks per set, and ranks 15th nationally. The team ranks second in the ACC conference and 15th national with an average of 2.77 blocks per set. The Irish defense as a whole is holding opponents to a hitting percentage of just .147, which tops the ACC and ranks ninth in the country. A large reason for that has been the play of the back-line, as Notre Dame leads the ACC in digs per set with an average of 16.96.
Coming off back-to-back conference victories, the Irish will face the Demon Deacons, who are 6-10 overall and 1-3 in the ACC. Wake Forest (6-10, 1-3) picked up its first ACC victory of the season Sunday, defeating Boston College 3-2. The upcoming match marks the eighth meeting between the two squads, with Notre Dame winning the past three contests, most recently a 3-2 road victory in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, last November. The Irish lead the all-time series 4-3.
After Wake Forest, the Irish will quickly turn around to face Duke on Sunday, with each program each having won seven matches against each other. Last time they met, Notre Dame lost to Duke (7-6, 1-3) 3-1 on the road at the Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The Irish take on the Demon Deacons on Friday at 7 p.m. before hosting Duke on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.