Nov. 16, 2003
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The 12th-ranked University of Notre Dame volleyball team (22-4, 11-1) was foiled in its bid for the outright BIG EAST Conference regular-season championship Sunday in a 3-2 (20-30, 30-26, 30-25, 13-30, 15-13) loss to Pittsburgh (22-4, 11-1). The teams finished as league co-champions, but the Panthers secured the No. 1 seed in next weekend’s BIG EAST Championship. The second-seeded Irish will take on third-seeded Miami (22-8, 9-3) in one semifinal at 3:30 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, with Pittsburgh and fourth-seeded Villanova (14-14, 7-5) playing at 1 p.m. (EST) in the Joyce Center.
The Irish won the first four points of the final game and led 7-4 before Pittsburgh rallied to tie the score 8-8. The Panthers edged ahead 12-10 and held on to gain their first win over Notre Dame since 1990, ending a string of 15 consecutive losses.
Notre Dame’s offense struggled much of the night, hitting over .230 in just one game and finishing at .215. Sophomore MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) posted her third double-double of the season with 21 kills and 10 blocks. Senior co-captain Kristen Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.) also had a double-double, with 51 assists and a season-high 15 digs.
Sophomore L/OH Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) paced the floor game with a career-high 25 digs.
The Irish posted a season-high 22.5 blocks, an average of 4.5 per game. Junior OPP/OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) and sophomore MB Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) were in on eight each, while senior OPP Katie Neff (St. Louis, Mo./Cor Jesu Academy) had six.
Loomis and Kelbley also contributed offensively, with 16 and 15 kills, respectively.
Pittsburgh took an 18-15 lead midway through the first game before the Irish went on a 15-2 run to win it.
After hitting .000 (10 kills, 10 errors, 40 attempts) in game three, Notre Dame had 13 kills and just one error on 19 swings in the fourth game for a .632 attack percentage. The 17-point win in the penultimate game matched the largest margin of victory for the Irish this season.