Nov. 1, 2015
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The University of Notre Dame volleyball team showed plenty of toughness and a lot of fight Sunday afternoon but couldn’t pull off the road upset at North Carolina, as the Irish fell to the Tar Heels, 3-1 (27-25, 25-17, 23-25, 25-20), at Carmichael Arena.
After suffering a heartbreaking 3-2 loss at NC State Friday night, the Irish were quite competitive against a veteran and talented UNC squad that sits third in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings after advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals last season.
The Irish competed valiantly in an opening frame that saw 11 ties and five lead changes. Notre Dame went down 10-4 early and trailed by four at 16-12 before roaring back to tie the set at 17 on a service ace by sophomore setter Maddie Dilfer.
From there the set went back and forth, with the Irish eventually holding two set points at 24-23 and 25-24. However, the Tar Heels fought it off both times with a kill by Taylor Treacy tying the frame at 25 before an Irish attack error and a service ace by Heather Gearhart gave UNC the thrilling 1-0 lead.
Set two saw the home squad pull away midway through the frame, taking a 13-12 lead and turning it into a 19-12 advantage. In all, the Tar Heels scored 12 of the final 17 points to go up 2-0 entering the break.
Down but not out, Notre Dame pulled out an exciting third set by scoring two of the final three points by way of the kill after a Tar Heel timeout at 23-22. Sophomores Sam Fry and Sydney Kuhn combined for nine kills and just one error on 27 swings in the third frame.
UNC finished off the match by pounding home 17 kills in the fourth frame. The Tar Heels hit .270 while the Irish had just 10 kills in hitting .111.
Kuhn and Dilfer both recorded double-doubles in the match, as Kuhn finished with 13 kills and 10 digs while Dilfer posted 42 assists, 11 digs, three blocks and two kills. It was the fifth double-double on the year for Kuhn and the fourth for Dilfer.
Elsewhere, Fry had another 10+ kill, 5+ block performance with 11 kills and five blocks, while sophomore defensive specialist Natalie Johnson tallied 17 digs.
Freshman libero Ryann DeJarld recorded 28 digs to give her 28 or more digs in three matches this year. She now has three of the top 11 dig totals by an Irish player in a single match in the rally-scoring era (2001-present).
For North Carolina, libero Sheila Doyle had a remarkable 35 digs to go along with four assists and two service aces to lead her squad. Taylor Treacy (18K, 5B), Taylor Leath (15K, 2B, 5D), Leigh Andrew (12K, 10D) and Victoria McPherson (11K, 3B) all posted solid matches for the Tar Heels.
Notre Dame (6-18, 1-11 ACC) returns home to met Virginia Tech (November 6, 7 p.m. ET) and Pittsburgh (November 8, 1 p.m. ET) next weekend.
–Russell Dorn, Athletics Communications Assistant Director