NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame volleyball team rode a quick start out of the gate in its 2018 season opener against Weber State on Friday night and never looked back. The Irish blitzed the Wildcats 25-10, 25-23 and 25-11 to complete the three-set sweep on day one of the Golden Dome Invitational at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame (1-0) hit at a .265 clip for the match, and finished the night with 12 service aces. Irish head coach Mike Johnson earned his first official victory at the helm of the Notre Dame program with the win.
Jemma Yeadon led the way for Notre Dame with 14 kills and an ace, finishing one dig shy of a double-double with nine. Charley Niego shined in her Irish debut with 11 kills, while Rebecca Nunge chipped in seven kills, five digs and a team-high five service aces. Zoe Nunez notched a total of 27 assists in her first career Notre Dame appearance to go along with four digs, while libero Ryann DeJarld accounted for 14 digs and eight assists.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Irish raced out to an 8-2 advantage in the opening set, with the first four kills of the season registered by Charley Niego. Notre Dame upped the lead to 16-3 in the opening set after Jemma Yeadon notched four kills to power the attack for the hosts. At 20-5 Weber State (0-1) embarked on a brief rally to trim the deficit to 20-8, but Notre Dame maintained control from there. Rebecca Nunge picked up two key kills, and a Weber State service error gave the Irish a 25-10 set win and a 1-0 match lead.
Weber State was the aggressor at the outset of the second set, taking an early 4-3 lead before a Niego kill tied the match at 4-4. Three straight Nunge aces pushed the Irish out front 7-4. Notre Dame would score eight of 10 points in the second set to build an 11-6 advantage. The Wildcats dug in to close the deficit to a 14-14 tie that forced a Notre Dame timeout. After Weber State took its final lead of the match at 15-14, the Irish responded by upping the attacking intensity behind Yeadon and Nunge. The final four kills of the set came from the pair for the 25-23 Irish win and the 2-0 match lead.
Notre Dame broke out on a four-point run to open a 7-3 advantage in the third set. The Irish then followed with six of the next nine points to extend control at 13-6. Weber State regained serve following the Notre Dame jaunt and won two quick points to cut the margin to 18-11. An error returned service to Notre Dame and the Irish capitalized, scoring the final seven points of the match to close out the victory. Meg Morningstar held serve the rest of the way for Notre Dame, with three dynamic kills from Yeadon bringing the contest to match point. An attack error by Weber State clinched the Irish triumph.
PLAYERS OF THE MATCH
Freshmen Charley Niego and Zoe Nunez made impactful debuts in their first career Notre Dame match. Niego was the leading attacker for the Irish with 43 opportunities at the net, finishing narrowly behind Jemma Yeadon for the team kills lead. Nunez racked up 27 assists with a lone setting error to set the table for Notre Dame.
STAT OF THE MATCH
There was a total of seven ties and four lead changes during the three-set match, with all occurring in the second set that was won by Notre Dame 25-23. The Irish led 2-0 in the first set on their way to a 25-10 wire-to-wire set victory, and were up 3-0 at the start of the third set before icing the match at 25-11.
Notre Dame resumes the 2018 Golden Dome Invitational with a pair of matches on Saturday inside Purcell Pavilion. The Irish meet Toledo at 12:30 p.m. (ET) to close out the early session of games before capping the weekend against Northern Kentucky at 7 p.m.