Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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50 JANUARY 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED ND SPORTS BY DAVID MCKINNEY T he Notre Dame volleyball team's 2017 season came to an end in early December, but it achieved something the program had not done in five years. After finishing the regular sea- son with a 22-9 overall record and a 12-8 mark in ACC play, the Fighting Irish earned their first bid to the NCAA Tournament since 2012. The appearance was thanks in large part to the efforts of third-year head coach Jim McLaughlin. He has now coached 20 teams into the postseason during his 28-year career, with six of those squads advancing to the national semifinals and two winning the NCAA championship. On Dec. 1, Notre Dame headed to Lexington, Ky., to take on Western Kentucky in their first-round matchup. The Hilltoppers, who entered the match with a 30-3 record, got off to a hot start and never let up en route to a 3-0 victory over the Irish. Despite the loss, McLaughlin said he couldn't be prouder of his team, particularly the seniors who — at long last — got to play in the NCAA Tour- nament. "They've become good volleyball players, but they're great people," he said. "It's fun to be around them. They've learned how to work and treat people right." Additionally, McLaughlin said watching this group of seniors interact with the younger players on the team was extremely special to him. "They're good teammates," he said. "They say and do things that make each other better." The match marked the final time that seniors Sydney Kuhn, Sam Fry, Caroline Holt, Natalie Johnson, Mad- die Plumlee and Taylor Zwickl would suit up for the Irish, and McLaugh- lin said the six of them will be sorely missed come next season, in practices and in games. "They represent our university at the highest degree in everything that they do," McLaughlin said. "It's fun being in the gym, as hard as it is. It's hard what we do. It's really neat to be around this group." Looking ahead to 2018, the Irish will return a solid crop of young, promis- ing players, including rising senior Ry- ann DeJarld and rising junior Jemma Yeadon. DeJarld had a huge season as a ju- nior, ranking fourth nationally and set- ting the single-season school record for digs with 747. The Chicago native played every set for the Irish in 2017 and finished second on the team in aces with 41. Yeadon was also an integral part of Notre Dame's run to the postseason in 2017. The Mercer Island, Wash., native led the Irish in kills by a wide mar- gin with 453, with the second-highest number being 276 by junior Rebecca Nunge. Yeadon appeared in 116 of the 122 Irish sets during the season and reg- istered a hitting percentage of .944. ✦ Junior Ryann DeJarld set a single-season school record and ranked fourth nationally with 747 digs while helping the Irish reach the postseason for the first time in five years. PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH MEDIA Volleyball Advances To The NCAA Tournament Irish Roundup HOCKEY (16-3-1, 10-0-0 BIG TEN) After suffering a 6-4 loss to Nebraska-Omaha at home Oct. 26, No. 3 Notre Dame has been on a tear, winning 13 straight games while posting four shutouts. On Dec. 8-9 it swept then No. 12 Wisconsin for the first time ever in Madison, 3-2 — after trailing 2-0 in the third and final period — and 6-2. In game two, sophomore Cal Burke scored a hat trick, while junior Dennis Gilbert added two goals. Following Christmas break, the Irish will play at Michigan Jan. 5 and 7. They will then face the Badgers again, at home Jan. 19 and in Chicago Jan. 21, before closing the month at No. 7 Minnesota Jan. 26-27. MEN'S GOLF Taichi Kho, a Notre Dame golf signee in the class of 2018, earned a spot in the 2017 UBS Hong Kong Open Nov. 23-26. He nabbed a spot in the European Tour event thanks to a 9-under-par performance in a qualifying tournament. Playing against some of the top golfers in the world, he missed the cut and didn't play into the weekend. However, the future is bright for Kho at Notre Dame. He will arrive in South Bend as the reigning Hong Kong Junior Open champion. He has also competed in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championships, and has a No. 1 finish in the Mission Hills Jack Nicklaus Junior Championship. TRACK AND FIELD Several Irish athletes turned in impressive performances at the season-opening Blue and Gold Invita- tional Dec. 1 in South Bend. Most notably, graduate student Jacob Dumford crossed the finish line first and set a new school record in the 1,000 meters with a time of 2:21.45. On the women's side, senior Samantha Murray took home first place in the 600-meter race with a personal-record time of 1:32.26. The next event for the Irish will be the Wolverine Invitational Jan. 13 in Ann Arbor, Mich. — David McKinney

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