Irish prepare to honor seniors at final home match against Louisville
Meagan Bens | Friday, November 16, 2018
The Irish will return to Purcell Pavilion on Friday for their Senior Night against Louisville.
This past week, Notre Dame (15-11, 9-7 ACC) fell to NC State at home 1-3 and to Florida State 2-3 in Tallahassee, Florida. Head coach Mike Johnson said he appreciated the team’s effort to work around injuries to key players, including junior Jemma Yeadon.
“It was a tough weekend,” Johnson said. “Certainly was hard having some of our starters not playing in those particular matches, it made it tougher. Our philosophy is the next person steps up and is ready to go. We swung aggressively, I liked our mindset and how we approached the game.”
Entering the game Friday, Johnson’s focus isn’t on the overall numbers, but rather on how the team attacks every match.
“As a coach, you never really know exactly where you are, you are not trying to get to end of season and size it up ahead of time,” Johnson said. “You’re just worried about approaching [the] next game the right way and battling hard through it. We’ve battled with [adversity], but I couldn’t have been more proud of how they have attacked it.”
The Irish have faced the Cardinals (20-7, 13-3 ACC), previously this season on Oct. 10 and lost 2-3. Notre Dame took the first two sets 29-27 and 25-20 before Louisville came back to seize the next three frames 25-17, 25-20 and 15-12.
“They are a good team, we were right there in October,” Johnson said. “We’ve learned and grown since then and I’m guessing they have, too. It’s really just about playing well on our end, though.”
In addition to playing a familiar opponent, Johnson said the team will be fired up to play for the seniors on their night. Leading the team defensively, senior Ryann DeJarld has recorded a team-high 485 digs, while senior Meg Morningstar leads the team in total blocks with 142.
“I have great appreciation for the senior class,” Johnson said. “Looking over the course of their career and where the team was when they first arrived, then going through the transition to where they are today, they have had a big hand in moving the program forward and I appreciate them and their work.”
In addition to the senior leadership carrying the team, Johnson said the underclassmen have become a group on which the team regularly relies. Freshman Charley Niego leads the team offensively with 303 kills on the year, while freshman Zoe Nunez leads the team in both hit percentage at .286 and assists with 1,010.
“The freshmen are very good, and I am fired up about how they have performed because they have improved every single week,” Johnson said. “I appreciate their effort, and I am looking forward to them continuing to improve and keep going. The three freshmen are a big part of the team right now.”
Notre Dame will celebrate its seniors during the match against Louisville at 7 p.m. in Purcell Pavilion on Friday.