Nov. 22, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 17th-ranked University of Notre Dame volleyball team (23-4) advanced to the title match of the BIG EAST Championship for the ninth consecutive season with a 3-1 (30-19, 30-22, 23-30, 30-20) victory against Miami (22-9) in a rematch of last year’s conference final Saturday afternoon in the Joyce Center. The Irish will go for their eighth league tournament title on Sunday against conference co-champion Pittsburgh at 2 p.m. (EST).
Notre Dame sophomore MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.), who was named a first-team all-BIG EAST selection on Friday, continued her outstanding play, leading all players with 16 kills on .500 hitting. Brewster, who ranks second in the nation in the category, also was in on 11 blocks, including eight in the opening game. In addition, she matched her career high with six digs. It was her fourth double-double with kills and blocks this season.
Brewster’s 11 blocks were one shy of her total in last year’s BIG EAST title match against Miami, which stands as the most for an Irish player in a BIG EAST tournament contest. Lindsay Treadwell (1997 vs. Villanova) and Malinda Goralski (2000 vs. Connecticut) also had 11 blocks in a conference tournament match.
In three career BIG EAST Championship matches, Brewster has 39 kills on .438 hitting, as well as 28 blocks (2.33 per game) and 61 points (5.08 per game).
Senior co-captain OH Jessica Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.) posted her second double-double of the year, with a season-high 13 kills on .345 hitting and 16 digs. She also registered six assists, four blocks, and a service ace.
Senior co-captain S Kristen Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.), who led the Irish to a .275 hitting percentage, was an offensive weapon, as well, converting a season-high eight kills on .500 hitting, while matching her season-best total with 15 digs.
Junior OPP/OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) had a strong all-around game, as well, with 13 kills, eight digs, eight blocks, and a service ace. She matched her season high in blocks.
Notre Dame’s defensive effort was strong all the way around, with 17 blocks (4.25 per game) and 76 digs (19.00 per game) en route to holding the Hurricanes to .144 hitting — the lowest mark for an Irish opponent in six matches. The dig total was the second-highest ever for Notre Dame in a BIG EAST Championship match, trailing a 91-dig performance in 1998 vs. Connecticut.
Four Notre Dame players had 12 or more digs, while seven were in on blocks. Sophomore L/OH Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) had 16 digs, marking her sixth consecutive match with 15 or more. Freshman DS/L Danielle Herndon (Plant City, Fla./Durant H.S.) had a dozen.
Notre Dame started strong, building a 7-2 lead on the strength of four blocks. After a Hurricane spurt tied the game at 10-10, the Irish took control, winning 12 of the next 15 points. The Irish turned in one of their top defensive games of the season, compiling 25 digs and eight blocks in limiting the Hurricanes to a .040 attack percentage (11 kills, nine errors). Notre Dame hit .371 in the game. Brewster dominated, with kills on all five of her attack attempts, as well as eight blocks and four digs. She would also convert her first two second-game swings for kills, to begin the match with kills on seven consecutive attempts.
Miami jumped out to a 12-6 lead in the second game, but the Irish then put together four different runs of four or more consecutive points en route to an eight-point triumph. Henican had eight digs in the game, while Kristen Kinder added seven.
Game three was tight, with nine ties before the Irish surged ahead by two points at 17-15 for their largest lead of the game. Miami responed by winning five points in a row and closing out the game on a 7-2 run. Miami had three different players have five kills each in the game — Valeria Tipiana, Robin Lewullis, and Elizabeth Tyson — while Leyre Santaella Sante had four. The ‘Canes, who hit .357 in the game, did not have more than 13 kills in any other frame.
Notre Dame started fast in the fourth game, using a 9-3 run to take an 11-5 advantage. The Hurricanes never got closer than a three-point margin as the Irish went on to victory. Notre Dame hit .308 in the game and held Miami to .093 attacking.
The Irish improved to 61-0 all-time against BIG EAST competition in the Joyce Center since joining the league in 1995. Notre Dame is 56-0 in regular-season play and 5-0 in the conference tournament. The Irish are 17-1 all-time in the BIG EAST Championship.
Sunday will be a tussle between the two most dominating teams in BIG EAST history. Notre Dame and Pittsburgh have combined to win 17 of the previous 21 BIG EAST Championships.