Nov. 2, 2004
Junior captain and libero Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) was named the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week on Monday after helping the Notre Dame volleyball team to a pair of 3-0 road victories in league action over the weekend. Henican, just the second libero ever to win the award, averaged 6.33 digs per game – including 26 against Villanova on Sunday – in leading a defensive effort that held opponents to a .116 attack percentage.
No libero had been named the BIG EAST Player of the Week since the inclusion of the position in the college game, beginning in 2002, until Allison Anderson of Boston College did so on Oct. 11 of this season.
The award made Notre Dame the first school to have two different players win the honor this season, as junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) is a two-time honoree. The Irish also are the lone team to have three different players be tabbed for conference weekly honors in 2004, as freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) was the Rookie of the Week in back-to-back weeks last month. Brewster won the player-of-the-week distinction last week, making Notre Dame the first school to pick up that honor in back-to-back weeks.
Against the Wildcats, Henican notched 10 digs in the first game, four in the second, and a dozen in the final stanza. The output, a match high, was just two shy of the Irish record for a three-game match, and it tied her output against Sacramento State last month as the second-highest sum in a 3-0 affair in the 25-year history of Notre Dame volleyball. Her 12 digs in the final game matched the high turned in by an Irish player in a single game this season; she also had a dozen in the second game vs. Seton Hall en route to breaking the program record for kills in any-length match (37). Henican accounted for nearly 45 percent of Notre Dame’s 60 digs, which equaled an average of 20.00 per game, the second-highest dig average for the Irish this season, behind a spectacular 26.67 mark (80 in three games) against Sacramento State on Sept. 11.
Villanova ended with 36 kills and 35 attack errors, and their hitting mark of .007 was the lowest for an Irish opponent this season. It marked the fourth time in six BIG EAST matches in `04 that Notre Dame held its opponent under .090 hitting. The last time the Irish turned in a more stifling defensive effort was Nov. 2, 2003, when Syracuse ended up with a -.008 mark (32 kills, 33 errors). The Wildcats hit negative in both of the final two games, making 13 errors compared to just 11 kills en route to a -.042 mark in the middle frame before notching just nine errors and hitting 12 errors for a -.059 attack percentage in the final game. Of the eight Wildcats that made at least one attack attempt, only one finished with a positive hitting percentage and five hit below -.025.
On Saturday against Georgetown, Henican posted a team-high 12 digs, and her passing was a major reason that the Irish offense was able to turn in a .339 attack percentage, its second-highest mark of the season.
Notre Dame’s serve-receiving unit, which is paced by Henican, also was exceptional over the weekend, as opponents managed just six service aces. Georgetown, which accounted for half of those aces, came into the match with the second-best ace average (1.80) in the BIG EAST, but they were held to only 1.00 per game. In 2003, the Hoyas led the conference in aces in league play, with an average of 2.05 per game. Georgetown’s Ashley Lancaster came into the week as the conference’s top server, averaging 0.42 per game, but she was held to only one ace, while Margaret Vernon – who was sixth in the BIG EAST at 0.35 was shut out. On the year, Notre Dame has surrendered just 70 aces in 69 games, an average of 1.01 per game that ranks as the second-best mark in school history, behind only last year’s school-record average of 0.94 (for which Henican was largely responsible).
On the season, Henican ranks third in the BIG EAST with a 4.54 dig average, and she has been in double figures in digs in 18 of 19 matches, leading the team on 17 occasions. In league matches alone, she is averaging 5.84 digs, the third-best mark in the conference. Henican is the leader of a defense that has held opponents to a .175 hitting percentage this season. In league play, Notre Dame’s opponents are hitting only .108 (putting the Irish first by a large margin in opponent hitting percentage) and averaging 12.95 kills per game.
Henican, one of only two Irish juniors to serve as solo team captains, is on pace to shatter the record for season dig average, and her career mark of 3.53 is the second-best mark in school history.
After starting the season at outside hitter, Henican has been Notre Dame’s libero in 14 matches in `04, helping the Irish to a 12-2 mark. She is averaging 4.82 digs in the gold jersey, while making just 0.29 reception errors per game (one every 3.4 games). The Irish are outdigging their opponents 15.59-15.06 (+0.53) with Henican as the libero, while those foes are hitting only .148 with 13.61 kills per game. Notre Dame is 1-4 with other players filling the libero position, and it is being outdug by 2.47 per game (18.57-16.10) and allowing its opponents 16.76 kills on .236 hitting.
Henican is the 15th different Notre Dame player to be tabbed the league’s player of the week since the Irish became a member of the BIG EAST in 1995. She joins setters Denise Boylan (’00) and Kristen Kinder (’03) as the only non-hitters to gain the distinction.
The award, as well as her prolific digging in conference action, have made Henican one of the prime candidates for the second BIG EAST Libero-of-the-Year award. Other top contenders are Anderson (1st with 7.71 digs in league action; 2nd overall with 5.16) and Pittsburgh’s Megan McGrane, who won the inaugural honor and ranked sixth in Division I in dig average last week (now 6.25; 2nd with 6.24 in conference matches).
Pittsburgh freshman outside hitter Diana Andreyko was tabbed rookie of the week by the conference on Monday.
Henican and Notre Dame (13-6, 6-0), who have won 12 of their last 15 matches and are receiving votes and listed 32nd in this week’s USA Today/CSTV Top 25 Coaches Poll, will return to action this weekend by beginning a five-match homestand. The Irish will play host to Connecticut (15-7, 5-1) on Friday at 7 p.m. (EST) and to Boston College (17-10, 3-3) on Sunday at 2 p.m. in a pair of key league matchups. The showdown with the Huskies, who had been unbeaten in conference action before last weekend, will feature live internet audio provided to subscribers of College Sports Pass, with Dr. Lorne Oke and Stephen Hinkel calling the action.