Nov. 29, 2003
PALO ALTO, Calif. – The 20th-ranked University of Notre Dame volleyball team (23-6) dropped its final regular-season match, a 3-0 (30-28, 30-24, 30-24) decision against #6 Stanford (23-6) Saturday afternoon in the Maples Pavilion. The Irish now will await the announcement of the NCAA Championship bracket on Sunday.
Notre Dame fell victim to a hot-hitting Cardinal attack that registered 61 kills on .333 hitting. Junior OH Ogonna Nnamani, a first-team All-American last season, was outstanding, finishing with 23 kills on a .409 attack percentage.
Notre Dame held leads in every game, but could not convert enough late opportunities to avoid its first two-match losing streak of the season.
The Irish hit well over the first two games – boasting a .297 percentage heading into the locker room – but managed just 13 kills and 10 errors in the final frame.
Sophomore OPP/MB Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.), playing for the first time in her career on the outside, led the Irish with 10 kills on 19 swings, a .368 percentage. The former middle blocker also had five digs and three blocks.
Senior OPP Katie Neff (St. Louis, Mo./Cor Jesu Academy) and sophomore MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) each provided nine kills, while junior MB/OPP Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) had seven in her first career match at middle blocker. Senior co-captain S Kristen Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.) had five kills on nine errorless attempts, as well.
Defensively, Notre Dame was led by sophomore L/OH Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.), who had 10 digs. The Irish had 10.5 blocks, below their nation-leading average of 3.76. Brewster and Kristen Kinder were each in on five.
The first game was close throughout, featuring 13 ties and five lead changes. The final deadlock was at 22-22, when the Cardinal sprinted to a 29-26 advantage to gain three game points. Kills from Brewster and Neff forced a Stanford timeout, but the game ended on the following point thanks to Nnamani’s ninth kill.
Notre Dame came out strong in game two, taking a 6-3 advantage prior to an 8-1 Stanford run. The Irish could not come within fewer than four points the remainder of the frame. Stanford had 25 kills and hit .372 despite six Notre Dame blocks.
The final game was tight, with Notre Dame leading 21-20 before Stanford tied the frame for the 10th time and went on a 9-2 run to secure a number of match points, setting up a six-point victory.
Stanford has won all six meetings with the Irish. No team has played Notre Dame more times without losing.
Notre Dame now will await the announcement of the field for the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship, slated to be televised by ESPNews on Sunday at 8 p.m. (EST). The Irish will be looking for one of the 33 at-large berths into the event. Not only the entire 64-team bracket, but also the 16 host sites for first- and second-round play – scheduled for Dec. 4-7 – will be revealed on Sunday. Notre Dame was one of those host sites a year ago.