Oct. 4, 2003
JAMAICA, N.Y. – For the second consecutive match, the 17th-ranked University of Notre Dame volleyball team (11-2, 3-0) turned in its best hitting performance of the season, defeating St. John’s (18-5, 0-1) in straight games (30-24, 30-24, 30-19) Saturday afternoon. The Irish offense, under the guidance of S Kristen Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.), hit .369 on the day. Kinder had 45 assists.
Leading the way offensively for the Irish was junior OPP/OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.), who hit .500 while leading all players with 16 kills and 18 points. Loomis has hit .500 or better in matches three times this season and on five occasions in the past calendar year. She has had 10 or more kills in 19 consecutive matches, dating back to last season.
Sophomore MB Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) had 11 kills and just two errors on 21 attempts for a .429 hitting percentage, while senior OPP Katie Neff (St. Louis, Mo./Cor Jesu Academy) had 10 kills. Senior OH Jessica Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.) hit well, with eight kills and just one error on a .368 percentage.
After using a new 6-2 rotation for the first 10 matches of the season, the Irish switched back to their traditional 5-1 offense last weekend and have seen the move pay dividends. Notre Dame has a combined .319 attack percentage over the last three contests after hitting .231 on the season up to that point. After hitting over .257 on just two occasions in the first 10 matches, the Irish have turned in back-to-back attack percentages over .355. Notre Dame hit a then-season-high .358 vs. Georgetown last Sunday.
The Irish have averaged nearly three more kills per game since the change (17.70 compared to 15.02) and are getting 15.70 assists per game (up from 13.23) over the last three matches. The BIG EAST leader in team assists, Pittsburgh, is averaging 15.53 on the year. Kinder is setting 13.50 assists a game.
Notre Dame headed into the match ranking third in the nation in blocks per game, at 3.33. The Irish hit their average, recording 10 in the three games on Saturday. Sophomore Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.), the BIG EAST leader in the category, was in on seven of the blocks, while Kristen Kinder took part in four after being involved in just four all season prior to Saturday.
Sophomore OH Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) led all players with 14 digs, marking the eighth consecutive match in which she has registered at least a dozen. Freshman L Danielle Herndon (Plant City, Fla./Durant H.S.) contributed 11.
St. John’s entered the contest leading the BIG EAST Conference in two categories — hitting percentage (.272) and opponent hitting percentage (.143) — and ranking among the top three in another trio — assists (2nd, 14.88), kills (2nd, 16.42), and service aces (3rd, 2.26). The Red Storm did not hit their season averages in any of those categories, posting numbers considerably off in a pair. The Irish hitting percentage was .226 above what SJU opponents hit prior to Saturday, while the Red Storm managed just one service ace in three games.
St. John’s entered the weekend with three players ranked among the most accurate hitters in the league, all at better than .315. No Red Storm player with more than three attempts hit better than .286 on Saturday.
Early in the conference season, Notre Dame is the only team with a 3-0 league record and one of just four unbeaten squads. Miami and Pittsburgh are both 2-0, while Connecticut won Saturday in its BIG EAST opener.
One of the conference unbeatens will fall tomorrow. The Irish will travel to Storrs, Conn. to take on the Huskies in a 2 p.m. (EDT) match on Sunday. Live stats of the contest will be available at www.uconnhuskies.com.