Nov. 5, 2017
By Robby Hamman
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Notre Dame (17-8, 7-7 ACC) got back on track on Sunday afternoon, picking up a thrilling 3-2 (25-12, 20-25, 25-12, 24-26, 15-13) road win at Wake Forest (11-15, 3-11 ACC). The victory improves the team’s record to an impressive 8-4 in matches away from home in 2017.
Senior Sydney Kuhn had a monster performance against the Demon Deacons, tallying a career-high 20 kills to lead the Irish to victory. Sophomore Jemma Yeadon (14) and junior Rebecca Nunge (12) also finished with double-figure kills. Senior Natalie Johnson thrived from the service line, matching her career high for aces with six.
In the victory, junior Ryann DeJarld moved up to second place (1,655 digs) on the Notre Dame career all-time digs list, passing Christy Peters (1,640 – ’95). DeJarld finished with a team-high 31 digs in the match.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Notre Dame set the tone for the first set from the service line, as the Irish totaled a remarkable seven aces in the first frame to gain the early lead. Johnson led the charge with five aces and Yeadon added two. Notre Dame cruised to a 25-12 victory in the first and never trailed. The key stretch for the Irish came on a 9-1 run, which gave the squad a 20-8 lead.
The Irish held a 9-7 advantage in the early stages of set number two but then the Demon Deacons put together their first big run of the afternoon to take control of the set. Wake Forest won nine of 10 points to build a 16-10 advantage. Notre Dame tried to fight back into the stanza, twice cutting the Wake Forest lead to three points, but were unable to complete the comeback, as the hosts took the second by a score of 25-20 to level the match at 1-1.
The third set was dominated by Kuhn for the Irish, as the senior posted seven kills in the first 18 points of the frame to give Notre Dame an insurmountable 14-4 lead. Similar to the first frame, the Irish breezed to a 25-12 victory in the third to go back on top in the match at 2-1. Notre Dame did not make a single attacking error in the third and recorded its best hitting percentage of the day with a mark of .324.
Notre Dame appeared to be poised to finish the match in four sets, as the squad had the upper hand for nearly the entire frame. The Irish led by as many as five points in the set and had three match points at 24-21. However, the Demon Deacons rallied and won the final five points to come back and take the stanza 26-24 and send the match to a decisive fifth set.
Wake Forest jumped out to a three-point advantage in the fifth, leading 6-3, but Notre Dame answered by taking five of the next six points to take its first lead of the set at 8-7. The Irish methodically built its advantage to three and had three more match points at 14-11. The Demon Deacons managed to fight off the first two match points to close the gap to one at 14-13 but then Nunge put down her 12th kill of the day to deliver the Irish the fifth set at 15-13 and send the team home with a 3-2 triumph.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Kuhn had a performance to remember on Sunday afternoon, reaching the 20-kill mark in a match for the first time in her four-year career. The senior posted a hitting percentage of .304 (15-3-56) over five sets to carry the Irish attack. Kuhn also tied her season-high for digs with 17 and added two blocks, an ace and an assist.
STAT OF THE MATCH
For the third time this season the Irish reached double figures in aces in a match, as four Irish student-athletes combined for 10 against the Demon Deacons. Johnson, the ACC leader in aces per set entering the weekend, paced the Irish with six, while Yeadon produced two and Kuhn and Sam Fry each totaled one.
NOTES OF THE MATCH
- The Irish improve to 4-3 against Wake Forest in the all-time series with Sunday’s win.
- Notre Dame is 3-3 in five-set matches this season.
- The Irish recorded 10+ team blocks in a match for the 15th time this season, ending Sunday with 13.5.
- Johnson tied her career high for aces in a match, totaling six against the Demon Deacons.
- Johnson has now recorded at least one ace in 10 consecutive outings.
- DeJarld has posted 30+ digs in back-to-back matches for the first time in 2017 and has achieved the feat five times this season.
- Yeadon’s 14 kills mark the 21st time this season that the sophomore has notched 10+ kills in a match.
- With 20 kills and 17 digs, Kuhn now has seven double-doubles in 2017.
- Holt notched her ninth double-double of the 2017 season, finishing the day with 44 assists and 15 digs.
- Rebecca Nunge reached double figures in kills for the 10th time this season, as she had 12 at Wake Forest.
- Fry led the Irish in blocks with seven on the day.
Notre Dame returns home for a four-match homestand, its final of the season. The Irish host Virginia Tech at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 10 inside Purcell Pavilion.
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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.