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Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Observer

Irish host Clemson, visit Virginia as they look to end skid

Senior libero Hattie Monson intently watches play during Notre Dame's 3-2 defeat of Wake Forest at Purcell Pavilion on Oct. 14, 2022.

Notre Dame volleyball will look to avoid its mid-season losing streak reaching eight games on Friday night, hosting Jackie Simpson Kirr and the Clemson Tigers at Purcell Pavilion at 6:30 p.m. After a hot start to the season against non-ACC opponents, the Irish and Salima Rockwell have stumbled, going winless in seven tries since Oct. 13 and currently sitting at 10-12 (4-10 ACC).

On the bright side, the Irish face a potential “get right” spot this weekend with a home game against the Tigers and a road tilt at Virginia on Sunday. Clemson is above .500 on the year (15-11) but below that mark in conference play with a 6-8 record. Virginia comes into the weekend with a 9-15 overall record and a 2-12 mark in 14 conference games.

Last weekend, the Irish traveled to Clemson for a road match. Rockwell thought the contest was extremely close despite Notre Dame's 3-1 loss. Teams play each other twice within one week infrequently, but that is the situation in front of the Irish.

“[Tuesday] was a lot of defense,” Rockwell said on Wednesday, speaking about her club’s week of preparation leading up to a rematch. “[Practicing] what they did against us and how we’re going to defend them a little bit differently.”

Junior outside hitter Sydney Palazzolo continues to shine during her first year with the Irish, leading the ACC with 3.93 kills per set. Graduate student setter Nicole Drewnick (seventh in assists with 708) and senior libero Hattie Monson (10th in digs with 320) provide a solid supporting cast for Palazzolo. Those three will be key for Notre Dame as it looks to right the ship with the season winding down.

Adria Powell is averaging just 1.76 kills per set this season but shined in last weekend’s matchup between Clemson and Notre Dame. She finished the day with 14 kills and a .481 hitting percentage, both of which led her team.

“We’ll try to minimize those with our shot selection,” Rockwell said.

For head coach Shannon Wells and the Cavaliers, Abby Tadder leads the way with 243 kills on the season (2.93 per set). Veresia Yon also has over 200 kills while hitting at a team-best .327 clip. During Notre Dame's win over Virginia last month, sophomore outside hitter Lucy Trump stepped up with 18 kills. If she can find some late-season magic, the Irish attack would get a lot more dangerous.

The Irish host only one more home game during the regular season after Friday’s tilt, against Wake Forest on Nov. 17. Notre Dame currently holds a 6-4 home record and a 3-7 away record heading into this weekend’s action. Clemson is 4-4 as visitors, while Virginia sits at 5-6 on its home court.

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