Oct. 10, 2004
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – Junior captain and libero Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) broke a 12-year-old school record with 37 digs, while her classmate, OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.), had 25 kills to lead the University of Notre Dame women’s volleyball team (8-5, 3-0 BIG EAST) to a 30-24, 30-27, 26-30, 30-23 victory against Seton Hall (6-14, 0-2 BIG EAST) Sunday afternoon in the Walsh Gymnasium. The Irish, who turned in their top offensive performance of the season, will finally return home from the longest midseason road trip in school history when they play host to Illinois State on Wednesday at 7 p.m. (EST) in the Joyce Center.
Henican dug just four Pirate attack attempts in the first game, but then scrambled for a dozen in game two, 11 in the third game, and 10 in the final frame to end up with a total 11 better than her previous career high (26 vs. Sacramento State in the Cal Poly Invitational on Sept. 11). Her performance – an average of 9.25 digs per game – broke the school record of 36 digs, done by Christy Peters on Sept. 5, 1992, against Kentucky in a five-game match. The previous Irish record for digs in a four-game match was 35 by Jessica Fiebelkorn, set that same month, on Sept. 18, 1992, at Purdue. No player had managed even 30 digs in any-length match since a 31-dig performance by Peters in 1993 at Arizona State.
The Irish captain now has 239 digs this season for an average of 4.78 per game. In eight matches as Notre Dame’s libero – helping the Irish to a 7-1 record – she is averaging 5.45 digs (158 in 29 games) and has helped Notre Dame to a +2.38 dig advantage over their opponents (16.41-14.03). Henican helped Notre Dame outdig Seton Hall by a 76-67 margin. Though the captain had nearly half of the Irish digs, freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) added 14,
Meanwhile, setters Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) and Kelly Burrell (Phoenix, Ariz./Xavier College Prep School) led the Irish offense to its best match of the season. Notre Dame had 17 or more kills in every game (including 20+ in two) and hit .340 or better in three games to end up with a season-best match attack percentage of .315, the top mark for the Irish in their last 18 matches (since hitting .358 at West Virginia on Nov. 15, 2003). Tarutis and Burrell had four hot hitters to work with, as a quartet of Notre Dame players finished with 14 or more kills and .300+ hitting marks. Tarutis ended up with 46 assists, her best output in a four-game match, while Burrell had 16, her third-best sum of the season.
Kelbley led the way by becoming the first Irish player in nearly four years to notch 25 kills in a match. She took the lion’s share of swings, ending with just eight attack errors on a career-high 56 attempts for a .304 percentage and 26 points. Like Henican, Kelbley started slowly, converting 10 attempts into only three kills in the first game. But she rebounded to have eight kills on .353 hitting in the following frame and then notch seven kills apiece in each of the final two games, hitting better than .305 on both occasions.
It marked the second time in four matches that Kelbley set her career high (after tying it once earlier this season). She had 24 kills at Michigan on Sept. 28 to better her previous best output by two. The last time an Irish player had 25 or more kills in a match was Oct. 29, 2000, when Christi Girton notched 31 in a five-game victory at Connecticut.
Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) was strong, as well, ending up with 16 kills on .316 hitting. She has been in double digits in kills in every match but one in 2004, hitting 15 or more on five occasions. Stasiuk came up just one shy of her season high, ending with 15 kills on .344 hitting, while senior OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) added 14, making just a single error for a .361 mark. Junior MB Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas/Lutheran South Academy) had a season-best five kills for the second time in as many days.
Cooper led the blocking effort by taking part in five of Notre Dame’s 11 blocks, with a pair of solos and three block assists. Brewster added four block assists.
Seton Hall won the first point of the match, but that would be their lone lead in the opening game, as the Irish opened up a 10-5 advantage with a pair of service aces by Henican. Notre Dame eventually led by as many as seven (22-15) en route to winning the first game. The Irish had 20 kills and only four errors in the frame for a .381 hitting mark. Five different players registered multiple kills, including five each from Stasiuk (on seven errorless swings) and Brewster.
Notre Dame got out early again in game two, taking four early leads of five points each before Seton Hall rallied. The Pirates went on a 5-1 run to tie the score at 15-15, and the game would remain close from then on. The Pirates took their first lead at 23-22 and then went up 24-23 before the Irish won seven of the next 10 points (three on kills by Kelbley) to win a game that featured 10 ties. Notre Dame finished with 22 kills on .340 hitting in the game, as Loomis and Brewster both had five kills and no errors and Kelbley notched eight.
The Pirates did what they had never done previously in the third game – claim a game victory against the Irish. Notre Dame had won all 29 games in the 10 meetings against Seton Hall until game three on Sunday. The frame was a tight one, featuring 13 ties. The Pirates edged ahead at 16-15 and would never surrender that advantage, surviving three more ties before going on to victory. The Irish came back to knot the score at 24-24, but a Notre Dame service error and a pair of kills from Seton Hall put the Pirates back in control.
The fourth game was tight early, but Notre Dame went ahead 5-4 and then never trailed after that, eventually prevailing by seven points. It was the best hitting game for the Irish in the match, as Notre Dame finished with 17 kills and just three errors for a .424 hitting percentage. Kelbley had seven kills, while Stasiuk and Brewster added four apiece.
Notre Dame has won all 10 meetings with Seton Hall, which came into the weekend with a nine-match home winning streak before losing to Syracuse on Saturday.