Irish come close, but can’t shake losing streak
Andrew McGuinness | Tuesday, November 14, 2023
The struggles for Notre Dame volleyball in ACC play continued over the weekend. Though the Irish had winnable matchups against an decent Clemson and struggling Virginia squad, they were unable to get back in the win column. The Irish have now dropped nine consecutive contests dating back to Oct. 13.
The three sets the Irish won over the two contests were their most in any two-game span since the streak began. Sunday’s match at Virginia was the first time the Irish had won two sets in a match since Oct. 20 at Virginia Tech. That match was also the last time Notre Dame held the lead in a match before Sunday.
Notre Dame delivered a stellar second set in Friday’s matchup with the Tigers, limiting Clemson to just 13 points. Clemson managed just a 29% hitting percentage in that set. However, the Tigers were at 66% or better in the other sets, repeating a similar theme throughout the season. The Irish have shown promise, but they haven’t been able to sustain it. It showed as Clemson kept the Irish at arm’s reach in the third set and pulled away in the middle of the fourth.
The Irish played even better two days later in Charlottesville, Virginia. After dropping the first set by just two points, Notre Dame won consecutive sets for the first time since that Oct. 13 win, which also came against the Cavaliers. The Irish won a nail-bitter of their own in the second set, going a couple of extra points to secure the victory, before their defense came through again in holding Virginia to just 19 points in the third set.
However, Salima Rockwell’s squad couldn’t finish the job in the big moments. Notre Dame led the fourth set 22-21 and were even at 23. Kills from Virginia’s Brooklyn Borum and Veresia Yon extended the match. The Irish rallied from 14-11 down in the match-deciding fifth set to even the score at 14 apiece. Once again, Virginia took the last two points. A kill by Yon and an attacking error by Irish junior setter Phyona Schrader ended the contest.
Notre Dame got the typical stat-sheet-stuffing performances from junior outside hitter Sydney Palazzolo, graduate student setter Nicole Drewnick and senior libero Hattie Monson. Sophomore outside hitter Lucy Trump stepped up Sunday, leading the Irish with 15 kills. But the Irish are down to just two regular season contests, and only one at home, to avoid ending 2023 on a skid.