Nov. 15, 2003
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – The 12th-ranked University of Notre Dame volleyball team (22-3, 11-0) clinched a share of its eighth BIG EAST title in nine years in the league with a 3-0 (30-22, 30-25, 30-20) win vs. West Virginia (6-20, 2-9) Saturday morning in the WVU Coliseum. The Irish will have a chance to post an undefeated league record for the seventh time on Sunday, with a match at second-place Pittsburgh (21-4, 10-1) which will determine the No. 1 seed in next weekend’s BIG EAST Championship, to be held in the Joyce Center.
The Irish were strong offensively, hitting .358 behind the setting of senior co-captain Kristen Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.). She finished with 35 assists, while also accounting for five kills on nine attempts and registering eight digs and three blocks.
Sophomore MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) was the most effective hitter for the Irish, cranking 12 kills while making only one error on 19 swings, a hitting percentage of .579. Senior OPP Katie Neff (St. Louis, Mo./Cor Jesu Academy) did not make an error, slamming nine kills on .429 hitting, her top mark of the season. Sophomore MB Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) had her second-best hitting percentage of the season, a .625 mark accrued from converting eight attack attempts into six kills. Junior OPP/OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) added 10 kills.
Senior OH Jessica Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.) was outstanding defensively, registering 20 kills. She now owns two of the top five digging performances in three-game matches in Irish history, having set the school record with 28 vs. Valparaiso in September. Kinder has had 20 or more digs four times this season. Sophomore L/OH Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) added 15 digs, marking the ninth time she has had 15 or more in a match this season. The two combined for 58 percent of Notre Dame’s 60 digs.
The nation’s leading blocking team, Notre Dame had 11 on Saturday, just under its average of 3.69. Sophomore MB Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas) led the way with a season-high six blocks, while Brewster, who ranks second in Division I in individual blocking, was in on five.
Notre Dame served well, registering six aces and only five service errors. Loomis led the way with a pair.
All 13 healthy Irish players saw action on Sunday, marking just the third time this season that occurred.
Notre Dame improved to 10-1 against the Mountaineers and 98-4 all-time in regular-season BIG EAST Conference tilts.
Notre Dame’s 22-3 start is the second-best through 25 matches in school history. The ’94 squad also was 23-2 en route to a 33-4 mark and a berth in the round of 16 of the NCAA Championship.
The winner of Sunday’s match between the Irish and the Panthers will secure the top seed in next weekend’s BIG EAST Championship, to be contested in the Joyce Center. Miami and Villanova are the other two qualifiers, having secured the third and fourth seeds, respectively. The Wildcats will take on the winner of Sunday’s match in one conference semifinal at 1 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, while the Hurricanes will face the second seed at 3:30 p.m. (EST) in the other semifinal. The title match is Sunday at 2 p.m. (EST).