Oct. 22, 2003
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Sophomore MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) had another huge night, posting a career-high 20 kills and 10 blocks to lead the 14th-ranked University of Notre Dame volleyball team (15-2) to a four-game road victory (30-27, 26-30, 30-21, 30-26) against defending Atlantic Coast Conference champion North Carolina (15-7) in front of a hostile crowd Tuesday evening in the Carmichael Auditorium. The winning streak is the fifth of eight or more matches for the Irish since 1999.
Brewster, who won back-to-back BIG EAST Conference Co-Player of the Week awards prior to last week’s idle Irish slate, continued her sizzling play, leading all players in kills, hitting percentage (.361), and blocks. It marked the third time this season, and second time in four matches, that she matched or tied her career-best total in kills. She has had 10 or more kills in 13 of 17 matches this season and has hit .360 or better in four consecutive tilts. Overall, she has posted an attack percentage of .300 or higher on 11 occasions this season and leads the BIG EAST in hitting percentage in league matches (.462).
Ranked fifth in the nation in blocks heading into the match, Brewster had two solos and eight assists to hit double digits for the third time in ’03. She is now averaging 1.73 blocks per game.
The nation’s leader in team blocking, Notre Dame had a strong night at the net, delivering 17 blocks in four games to up its Division-I-best average to 3.59. Senior Katie Neff (St. Louis, Mo./Cor Jesu Academy) was in on seven blocks, while senior OH Jessica Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.) and sophomore MB Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) each took part in five.
A pair of Irish players had outstanding defensive nights, combining for 43 of the team’s 64 digs – 67 percent. Jessica Kinder led all players with 24, while sophomore L/OH Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) had 19. It was the fourth time this season Kinder had 19 or more digs, including a school-record effort (in a three-game match) of 28 last month against Valparaiso. Henican has had a dozen or more digs in 11 of the last 12 matches. Since being moved from outside hitter to libero on Sept. 17, she is averaging 4.04 digs per game.
Also providing offensive pop were Kelbley and junior OPP/OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.). Kelbley had 14 kills, while Loomis added 10.
Playing directly in front of a raucous Tar Heel student section, the Irish struggled offensively in the first game, committing 11 errors on .102 hitting, but still prevailed. Brewster got going early with six kills in the opening frame, while Loomis and Kelbley had four each.
North Carolina’s offense found a rhythm in the second game, cranking 20 kills on .333 hitting en route to a four-point victory to even the match. All six Tar Heel errors in the set were the result of Notre Dame blocks.
The Irish responded in game three with a solid hitting performance. Led by senior S Kristen Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.), Notre Dame had 15 kills and just two errors – a .342 hitting percentage. Brewster had five kills on six swings in the frame.
The fourth game was close throughout, but the Irish eventually captured it, based greatly on the struggles of the Carolina attack, which hit .049 in the game.
Notre Dame will continue a three-match east-coast swing on Thursday, taking on Rhode Island. The Irish and Rams will meet for the first time since 1990.