Notre Dame volleyball looks ahead to weekend series with Toledo
J.J. Post | Friday, September 15, 2023
Notre Dame volleyball looks to continue their strong start to the season this weekend, facing off with Toledo twice. The Irish will host the Rockets on Friday before traveling to Ohio on Sunday for a rematch.
Toledo will be looking to shake off a rough start to 2023 that has seen the squad amass a 2-7 record. The Rockets will enter South Bend on a three-match losing streak, having most recently been swept at the North Dakota State tournament in Fargo, North Dakota.
The senior duo of Taylor Alt and Jada Bouyer will likely lead the way for Toledo, with the pair representing half of the four Rockets who have played in every set this season. Alt and Bouyer have combined to account for just over 40% of all Toledo points in 2023.
Fifth-year libero Ryann Jaqua can be expected to anchor the Rockets defensively. Jaqua’s 162 digs lead the team by a significant margin. Her serve receive percentage of .972 also leads all qualified players on the roster.
For the Irish, it looks likely Friday will be another display of the Sydney Palazzolo show. The junior outside hitter has been a revelation in South Bend since transferring to Notre Dame from High Point. She’s led the team in kills in each of the first six games. Her kill total (114) more than doubles the second-highest total on the roster. She’s averaging more kills per set than any other player in the ACC. Palazzolo has been efficient in her attacks as well, as her successful attack percentage of .256 is the second-highest on the team, trailing only graduate student setter Nicole Drewnick.
Drewnick, the graduate student setter, has been another major success story in the portal for the Irish. Arriving from Georgia Tech, the fifth-year player has thrived in her first year as a full-time college starter. She’s recorded 248 assists, good for eighth in the ACC on a per-set basis.
Behind the standout transfer pairing defensively is someone who’s been a mainstay in South Bend for years, Hattie Monson. The libero hasn’t missed a start since arriving on campus in 2020 and has continued her successes in 2023. Her 100 digs are the most on the team by a wide gap — no other player has more than 43. A vocal leader, her presence on the court has been a boon for an Irish lineup featuring several new faces.
If the Irish can sweep the Rockets, they’ll be on pace for their best start to non-conference play since 2019. The first showdown between the two teams will begin at 6:30 p.m. in South Bend on Friday.