Notre Dame volleyball has changed quite a bit since Hattie Monson first arrived in South Bend as a freshman in 2020.
The roster has churned — just one member of Monson’s original Irish squad is still with the team. Records have fluctuated, ranging from an NCAA tournament appearance in 2020 to a 12th-place ACC finish in 2022. A new coach has been attempting a rebuild. Through it all, there’s been one constant: Monson.
The senior libero has started in every game since joining the team in 2020. Monson leads the team in set appearances by a staggering margin; she has played 370 sets in a Notre Dame uniform, 100 more than her closest competitor for that title, fellow senior Lauren Tarnoff.
Monson is hard to miss on the court — and not just because of her uniquely colored libero jersey. She’s constantly covering ground, diving for balls from sideline to sideline. It’s not uncommon to see her punctuate lunges by sliding on her side or stomach to ease her crash to the court. If the Irish kept a stat for distance covered, she’d almost certainly be the perennial leader.
Now a three-year captain, Monson's rise to leadership as an underclassman isn’t one you see often in college sports, and it’s not a role she takes lightly. But before you see Monson on the court, you’ll hear her. As a libero, she’s already tasked with organizing her team’s defense. As captain, she adds making sure that her squad is mentally strong when they come together between serves to her list of duties. Whether the Irish win or lose a point, Monson is almost always in the team’s huddle with a smile and words of motivation at the ready.
Though she was officially named a captain as a sophomore, Monson noted her junior season was when she truly came into her own as a vocal presence on and off the court:
“Last year I tried to make my role as a talking leader be the forefront of how I lead,” said Monson. “I’ve always led by example. That's how I led my club teams, my high school team, my school teams growing up. And that's always what’s worked for me. But [head coach] Salima [Rockwell] challenged me to get out of my comfort zone a little bit because I have so many years under my belt in this game. These past few years, I've really focused on my vocal leadership … I feel like my leadership role has definitely changed throughout the years. I’m just really focusing on being a vocal leader, trying to inspire my teammates and get us on the same page every day.”
Impressive defensive stats have come hand-in-hand with Monson’s consistency. She’s on pace to lead the team in digs for the fourth straight year. She is also one of just 17 Notre Dame players with more than 1,000 career digs. Currently fourth on the all-time program leaderboard, Monson could climb even farther next year, having recently announced she’ll be returning for a graduate season with the team.
Despite her continual ascent up various Irish career leaderboards, Monson is more focused on making the team around her better.
“I would love to say that I don't think about it at all,” said Monson. “I have goals, individual things that I want to accomplish while I’m here. I'm just trying to be the best for my teammates every single day. And that just comes with hard work, getting extra reps every single day. The stats and accolades just come with it.”