Sept. 28, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 17th-ranked University of Notre Dame volleyball team (10-2, 2-0) turned in its best hitting performance of the season en route to a 3-0 (30-20, 30-23, 30-14) victory over Georgetown (4-11, 0-2) Sunday afternoon in the Joyce Center. The Irish finished with a .358 team attack percentage, including a .706 mark for sophomore Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.), in improving to 51-0 at home in BIG EAST matches since joining the league in 1995.
Notre Dame’s offense, under the guidance of senior S Kristen Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.), was sharp in the first game (16 kills, 5 errors, 41 attempts, .268), but became deadly in the final two frames. The Irish had 40 kills and eight errors on 79 swings in games two and three combined, for a .405 attack percentage. Kinder finished with 39 assists.
Kelbley registered 12 kills and no errors on 17 attempts, putting up a hitting percentage over .700 for the second time in her career. Her career-best mark was against Providence on Nov. 1, 2002, when she had seven kills and no errors on nine swings in just one game, for a .778 mark. It was the best individual hitting match for any Irish player with a minimum of 12 kills since Kristy Kreher hit .765 (13-0-17) on Nov. 4, 2001 at Pittsburgh.
Kelbley leads the Irish this season with a .342 attack percentage and has been above .300 in 10 of 12 contests. In her career, she has hit better than .300 in 29 of 44 matches, while hitting the .400 mark 20 times, bettering .500 on 10 occasions, and hitting over .600 six times.
Sophomore MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) led all hitters in kills with 16, on .464 hitting. She also matched her career high with three aces and had a match-high 21 points.
Senior OPP Katie Neff (St. Louis, Mo./Cor Jesu Academy) finished with nine kills on .375 hitting, while junior Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) had 10 kills, extending her streak of consecutive matches with double-digit kills to 18.
The Irish blocked well again, notching 12 on the day to improve their season average to 3.33 per game. Notre Dame entered the weekend averaging 3.11 blocks per game, which was good enough for first in the BIG EAST Conference and eighth in the nation. Eight different players were in on blocks Sunday, with Neff, Loomis, and Brewster each taking part in four.
Sophomore Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) led Notre Dame with 12 digs, while Kristen Kinder had 10. Henican has had nine or more digs in every match in 2003.
Notre Dame’s defense limited Georgetown to .079 hitting for the match. The Hoyas had just eight kills and 10 errors in game one (-.050 hitting) and had a .057 attack percentage in the third game. Georgetown MB Sara Albert came into the week leading the BIG EAST in hitting percentage (.390), after doing the same a year ago and finishing fifth nationally in ’02. On Sunday, Albert hit .056, with five kills and four errors on 18 attempts.
Notre Dame broke open a close first game by scoring six straight points after holding an 18-16 advantage. The Irish then went on to win by 10. Kelbley was precise early, registering kills on each of her first five swings of the match.
The Irish won the first five points and opened up a 15-8 lead and never looked back in game two. Brewster had nine kills in the frame, while Kelbley had kills on each of her six swings. Through two games, Kelbley was hitting .786 (11 kills, 0 errors, 14 attempts).
The third game was more of the same, with Notre Dame winning the first six points and leading 12-3 before pulling away for a 16-point victory. The win was the most lopsided of the season. After having not accomplished the feat in the previous 80 games (dating back to last season), Notre Dame won by 14 or more points three times in seven games over the weekend. The Irish won the second game 30-16 and the fourth game 30-15 on Friday vs. Villanova.
After one weekend of play, Notre Dame, which has won seven regular-season titles in eight years in the league, stands in a four-way tie for the top spot in the BIG EAST Conference, as Miami, Virginia Tech, and Syracuse, are all 2-0, as well. Pittsburgh won its only league match of the weekend. St. John’s and Connecticut have not played a BIG EAST match thus far, but will both play host to the Irish next weekend. Notre Dame will be in Jamaica, N.Y. to face the Red Storm on Saturday, Oct. 4 at 2 p.m. (EDT) before challenging the Huskies in Storrs, Conn. on Sunday at 1 p.m. (EDT).