Dec. 5, 2003
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The 21st-ranked University of Notre Dame volleyball team fell to #19 Louisville 3-0 (32-30, 30-21, 30-21) in the opening round of the 2003 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship. The Irish, who were making their 12th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, finished the season 23-7.
Notre Dame held early leads of at least five points in the opening two frames before Louisville rallied to take control.
The Cardinals hit exceptionally well – drilling 21 kills in each game and posting a .302 attack percentage – and became just the second team to outblock Notre Dame this season, ending with a 10.5-8.0 advantage. Meanwhile the Irish struggled offensively, hitting just .152 for the match.
The match was one of just two first-round contests between ranked teams in this year’s NCAA Championship.
Sophomore MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) led Notre Dame with 16 kills, while classmate OH/MB Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) added 11 and senior OPP Katie Neff (St. Louis, Mo./Cor Jesu Academy) had eight. Brewster had 52 attack attempts, the most by an Irish player this season in any length match.
Sophomore L/OH Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) had 17 digs to lead the Irish. Freshman DS Danielle Herndon (Plant City, Fla./Durant H.S.) added 11, while senior co-captain OH Jessica Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.) had 10.
The Irish came out hitting on all cylinders, taking a 10-4 lead to open the match and maintaining it until Louisville responded with a 10-1 run after trailing 22-17. The Irish came back with five consecutive points to take a 28-27 advantage. The Cardinals then won points at 28-28, 29-29, and 30-30 to gain game points, of which they finally converted the third to capture the opening frame. Neff led the Irish with six kills on .455 hitting.
Notre Dame again was strong early in the second game, jumping out to a 6-1 lead before Louisville tied the match at 10-10 and took the lead for good at 12-11. The Cardinals hit .500 in the game, slamming 21 kills on 36 attempts while making just three errors. Brewster had seven kills in the game, but the rest of the Irish managed just six, as Notre Dame hit .140 as a team.
Louisville took control early in game three, leading 14-7 en route to another nine-point victory. The Irish hit just .117 in the frame.
Notre Dame did not manage a victory in the NCAA tournament for just the fourth time in 13 appearances, losing its opening match in straight games for just the second time. The Irish have now lost five of their last six NCAA tournament matches away from the Joyce Center.
The Irish lost nine consecutive games to end the season and dropped five of their final seven matches after opening 21-2