Oct. 22, 2017
By Robby Hamman
CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Notre Dame (16-5, 6-4 ACC) pulled off its best comeback of the season on Sunday afternoon, defeating Miami (12-4, 6-4 ACC) by a final of 3-2 (23-25, 19-25, 25-13, 25-21, 15-13) in a thriller in Coral Gables. The last time the Irish came back from a 2-0 deficit to win was September 17, 2016, vs. DePaul.
Notre Dame's attacking trio of Jemma Yeadon, Rebecca Nunge and Sydney Kuhn led the team in kills. Yeadon finished with a team-high 19, while Nunge added 17 and Kuhn chipped in 15. Sam Fry also had an impactful performance, pacing the Irish in blocks with eight and putting down eight kills and two aces. Caroline Holt was excellent in distribution, as the setter doled out 56 assists. The Notre Dame back line was anchored by Ryann DeJarld, who finished with 22 digs.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Both teams' attacks came out firing in the first set, as the frame featured many short points that resulted in kills. The Hurricanes held a three-point lead late in the opener at 23-20 but the Irish received a kill from Jemma Yeadon and ace from Sam Fry to cut the deficit to one at 23-22. However, the Irish were unable to complete the comeback, as Miami did just enough to claim the first set with a 25-23 win to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
Miami carried its momentum from the first set into the second and commanded the action throughout the stanza. The Irish found themselves in an early four-point hole at 10-6 and never was able to recover. Notre Dame cut the Hurricane's lead to two points on two occasions but was unable to get any closer, as Miami took the second set 25-19 to go on top 2-0 in the match.
The Irish came out of the break fired up, winning the first five points to gain a quick 5-0 advantage. Notre Dame continued to put the pressure on the Hurricanes throughout the third, as its lead ballooned to 10 points at 21-11, forcing a Miami timeout. The Irish closed out the frame with ease, going on to win 25-13 and cut the Hurricane's match lead to 2-1. Notre Dame held Miami to a hitting percentage of just .061 in the third, its lowest of the match in a set.
Notre Dame picked up right where it left off in the fourth. After holding a 7-6 advantage, the Irish won six of the next seven points to take a commanding lead at 13-7. Unlike the third set, Miami managed to keep the fourth competitive, cutting the deficit to two at 14-12. Notre Dame would not allow the Hurricanes to get any closer the rest of the way, going on to win the set by a score of 25-21 to level the match at 2-2.
The final frame was a see-saw battle, as both teams appeared to be on the verge of taking control of the set on numerous occasions. The Hurricanes held a 7-5 lead and then the Irish came roaring back, reeling off five consecutive points, four coming on DeJarld's serve, to go on top 10-7. Sydney Kuhn was clutch in the run, hammering down three straight kills.
After the score moved to 11-8 in favor of the Irish the hosts answered with a 4-0 run of their own to take a 12-11 lead. However, the Irish were not to be denied on Sunday, as Notre Dame responded by winning four of the final five points to take the set 15-13 and complete the incredible comeback at 3-2. The two key plays in the final stretch came from a Fry and Holt block and an ace from Madison Cruzado that clipped the net and fell to the floor.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Nunge was such a consistent force for Notre Dame on Sunday, recording 17 kills on 39 swings while registering four errors for a hitting percentage of .333. The 17 kills represent a career high for the Newburgh, Indiana, native. Nunge also added four digs in the winning effort.
ND STAT OF THE MATCH
For the first time in nearly three years, the Irish had three players finish a match with 15+ kills. Yeadon (19), Nunge (17) and Kuhn (15) combined for 51 of the teams 65 kills in the comeback win. The last time Notre Dame accomplished the feat was on Nov. 14, 2014 in a five-set match against Wake Forest, as Fry, Nicole Smith and Jeni Houser each totaled 15 or more kills.
NOTES OF THE MATCH
- Notre Dame improves to 7-3 when playing away from home this season.
- The Irish have won six of their last seven matches, including three straight.
- Notre Dame matched its season-best hitting percentage on Sunday, posting a percentage of .280 (65-19-164).
- The Irish have finished with double-digit blocks 14 times this season after blocking 12.0 attempts in Coral Gables.
- DeJarld surpassed the 20-dig mark for the 16th time this season, finishing with a team-high 22 digs.
- Nunge recorded 10+ kills for the seventh time in 2017 on Sunday.
- Kuhn finished with double-digit kills for the eighth match this season, notching 15 against the Hurricanes.
- Holt has dished out 50+ assists on four occasions this season. Sunday's total of 56 was the second highest during her senior campaign.
- Yeadon has recorded at least 10 kills in all 19 matches she has played in during the 2017 season.
- Yeadon posted her 16th double-double in 2017 (19 kills, 18 digs).
- Fry has now blocked at least eight attacking attempts in five matches in 2017.
- Natalie Johnson finished with 10+ digs for the 12th time this season after posting 10 on Sunday.
- Kristin Baer matched her career highs in kills (5) and blocks (3).
- With two aces, Madison Cruzado finished with multiple aces for the third time this season.
Notre Dame returns home for a midweek matchup against Louisville at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 25 inside Purcell Pavilion. Purchase tickets here.
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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.