Dec. 3, 2003
By Steve Garcia
As the Notre Dame volleyball team awaits the opening of play in the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship this weekend, sophomore Lauren Brewster already has set her hopes very high.
“Our goal all season has been to go further into the NCAAs than we did last year,” Brewster says. “If we concentrate on each individual game and keep our focus, there is no reason we cannot reach the Sweet 16 and beyond.”
This would not only make the team’s season, but would be merely icing on the cake for Brewster. The Tennesseean from Brentwood High School is having a season to remember. Brewster has turned into one of the dominating middle blockers in the country and understands her crucial role on the team.
“I knew I would be seeing a lot of time on the floor this year,” says Brewster, who has started 28 of 29 matches for the Irish this season. “The other girls would be expecting me to be a consistent force in the middle.”
What a force she has become. Brewster ranks first in the nation in blocking with an average of 1.81 per game. She leads the team not only in blocking but in attack percentage (.353), and points (487.5, 4.83 per game), and is second in kills (356, 3.52). She was named BIG EAST Player of the Week three times in October and leads the Big East in blocking and hitting percentage while ranking fourth in points.
Brewster attributes much of her success, especially in blocking, to the hard work she and her teammates did in the off-season.
“Since last season, we have worked really hard to improve our blocking. We have incredible athletes with incredible work ethic.”
The coaches have focused on making Notre Dame’s middle a force to be reckoned with, and it has shown on the court with the Irish leading all Division I schools in blocking this season.
Brewster clearly demonstrated her unparalleled blocking prowess this season in both the Utah and Purdue contests in which she was part of a career-high 13 blocks twice in a three-match stretch. Prior to that, no Notre Dame player had been in on 13 blocks in a match since Molly Stark had 15 on October 2, 1993.
“I just play with an amazing group of athletes,” quotes the humble Brewster who has led this ‘group of athletes’ in blocks 17 times this season.
Her ability in blocking has made a place for her in the record books. As a freshman, Brewster started off by setting a Notre Dame season record for block assists (161) and was able to establish a new freshman record for total blocks in a season with 175. Despite being only a sophomore, she is challenging the school records in block average, total blocks, and block assists this season, having already posted numbers among the top three in the Irish annals in each category. She is obviously a key component in the Irish defense which threatens to set new school records in block average and lowest hitting percentage.
Brewster not only has outstanding ability and incredible potential, but also possesses a genuine love for playing the game of volleyball. She lists Pepperdine as her team’s main rival, and ranks Notre Dame’s victory over the Waves last season as one of her fondest memories.
“We always come out ready to play against Pepperdine. The crowd really gets into it. Every point is crucial-it’s so much fun!” Brewster comments.
It’s always more fun when you’re on the winning end, and Brewster has had a lot of fun in her career, winning four state championships in high school, and having a solid two years at Notre Dame. However, there is more fun to be had, according to Brewster, and if she continues to be the force she has been for the Irish this year, the future of Notre Dame volleyball is looking very bright.