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Irish Upset Falls Short in Five-Set Thriller Against No. 8 UNC

Oct. 14, 2016

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By Robby Hamman

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Notre Dame (15-4, 6-1 ACC) and No. 8 North Carolina (15-2, 7-0 ACC) entered Friday’s matchup as the final two teams remaining unbeaten in the conference and the play on the court lived up to the billing. With the score tied at 13-13 in the fifth and final set, UNC found a way to win the final two points and escape Purcell Pavilion with a 3-2 victory.


The two teams came out firing in the opening set, exchanging blows for the majority of the frame. With the score tied at 16-16 the Irish reeled off five straight points to grab control of the set at 21-16. Notre Dame went on to win the first set by a score of 25-18 to take a 1-0 lead in the match. North Carolina responded immediately in the second set, jumping out to an 8-0 lead and never looking back, as it took the frame 25-19.

The Tar Heels continued to ride its momentum out of the intermission, as they scored the first four points of the third set and never allowed Notre Dame to get closer than two points, as they went on to take the set 25-19. Notre Dame dug deep in the fourth, refusing to let the match slip away. After North Carolina tied the set at 9-9, the Irish caught fire and scored nine of the next 11 points to take a commanding 18-11 advantage in a set they went on to win 25-16 to force the decisive fifth frame.

As in the second and third stanzas, the Tar Heels built a quick lead in the shortened fifth set, holding a 6-1 advantage early. The Irish battled back and answered with a 6-0 run to retake the lead at 7-6. From that point on the two sides matched each other shot for shot, with neither team able to take control of the set, as the score was tied at 13-13. Then UNC’s Taylor Leah recorded back-to-back kills to deliver the visitors a 15-13 win that gave them the match at 3-2.


Sophomore Ryann DeJarld was all over the court for the Irish defense, as the Chicago native recorded a career-high 40 digs in the match. The 40 digs rank second in the Notre Dame record book for a single match performance since the 2001 rule changes. The 40-dig performance also ranks second in the ACC for the 2016 season.


In a match that featured plenty of great defense and scrambling, the Irish managed to record a higher hitting percentage than the Tar Heels on the evening. Notre Dame hit .169 for the match and held the ACC’s most efficient attack to a mark of .155. The Irish also outblocked the Tar Heels, who entered as the top blocking team in the league, 11.5 to 10.0.


  • The loss snaps Notre Dame’s win streak of seven matches, the team’s longest of the season.
  • The Irish are 5-6 against the Tar Heels in the all-time series.
  • The Irish move to 8-2 when playing away from Purcell Pavilion in 2016.
  • Notre Dame has now won the opening set in eight straight matches.
  • Katie Higgins led the Irish in kills with 11, marking the fifth time she has finished a match with 10+ kills.
  • Jemma Yeadon earned her team-best seventh double-double of the season with 10 kills and 11 digs.
  • Sam Fry recorded her seventh match of double-digit kills with 10 and also added a team-high seven blocks.
  • With 45 assists, Caroline Holt surpassed the 40 assist mark in a match for the sixth time this season.
  • Senior Haley Bonneval provided a spark off the bench and recorded a season-high eight kills.


The Irish host NC State at 1 p.m. in Purcell Pavilion on Sunday, Oct. 16 before hitting the road next weekend, as the team takes on Pitt at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 21 and then plays at Virginia Tech at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23.

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Robby Hamman joined Fighting Irish Media as athletics communications assistant director in September 2016, coordinating efforts for the volleyball and men’s lacrosse program. Hamman is a 2010 graduate of Bethel College, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in sport management and business administration, and earned his master’s degree in business administration from Defiance College in 2013.