Irish look to maintain momentum against Orange
Observer Sports Staff | Wednesday, September 30, 2020
The Notre Dame volleyball team will face off against Syracuse on Friday in Purcell Pavilion. The Irish will be hosting Syracuse for a two game series. This is the second game of the season for Notre Dame. After sweeping Louisville 3-0 Friday, the Irish are ready to take on the Orange in their home debut.
With only two seniors on the team, this will be a trying series for the Irish. Senior setter Monroe Olsen and senior middle blocker Hannah Thompson are going to lead the team throughout the season. The pair didn’t contribute much in 2019, with Olsen totaling 10 digs and 10 kills in 36 sets, while Thompson had 20 kills and 15 blocks in 25 sets. However, the two are the most experienced players on the team in terms of years in the program and will be expected to serve as the leaders of this team.
This is head coach Mike Johnson’s third season at the helm for the Irish. Johnson guided his team to the NCAA Tournament last season. He coached a record number of All-ACC team nominations in his first season with the Irish. Having coached a number of his players for multiple seasons, it is going to be exciting to see what Johnson can piece together this year. Syracuse is going to have a lot to handle in terms of team strategy and chemistry.
Johnson will be relying on a number of key players in the upcoming series against the Orange. On the offensive end, junior setter Zoe Nunez is the main facilitator for the Irish and had 32 assists against Louisville. Last year, she earned All-ACC first team honors. Her role as a setter is going to be important in leading the charge against Syracuse. Playing alongside Nunez will be junior outside hitter Charley Niego and sophomore outside hitter Caroline Meuth. The duo each had huge performances in Notre Dame’s matchup against Louisville, totaling 11 and 10 kills respectively. Niego and Meuth were also key contributors for the Irish last season. Niego earned All-ACC first team honors, while Meuth earned All-ACC second team honors. The hitting pair has already shown they can work effectively with their setter.
Looking at the team’s defense, freshman libero Hattie Monson figures to be the stalwart. The Lisle, Illinois, native came to South Bend ready to play. In her first career game for the Irish, she recorded 20 digs. Monson certainly has the potential to develop into a star for the Irish. In 2019, she was named a PrepVolleyball.com First Team All-American and an Under Armour Second Team All-American. Guided by the likes of junior libero Lexi Saulny, Monson is expected to grow into her role as a primary defensive contributor and is poised to have a strong series against the Orange.
Going into this series with a 1-0 record, the Irish will be looking to start a winning streak. This series will be the season opener for Syracuse. The Irish can expect a focused Orange team. With that, stay tuned to watch this Notre Dame team fight to defend their home court.