Sept. 3, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 25th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s volleyball team (1-1) took its first loss of the season Friday night, falling 30-19, 30-28, 30-24 to #2 Nebraska (1-0) in the Joyce Center in front of a crowd of 1,609 that ranks as the fifth-largest volleyball crowd ever in the venue – the second-largest for a match not played directly before a football pep rally. The teams, who both struggled offensively, will meet again Saturday night at 7 p.m. (EST) on the same floor. Notre Dame had chances in the first two games, as they forced the Huskers to take a timeout when four straight Irish points cut the lead to 16-15 in game one, but Nebraska would take control from there. The second game featured 13 ties, the last of which came at 28-28 when Irish freshman S Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) made a diving dig that springboarded into the Huskers’ backcourt. Nebraska junior OH Jennifer Saleaumua then slammed a kill down the line, and after a timeout, an attack error from the Irish gave the Cornhuskers game two. Defensively, the Irish held Nebraska to a .188 attack percentage, marking the second time in as many matches this season the Notre Dame defense has limited its opponent to a hitting mark below .190. Freshman OH/OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) led the Irish floor game with 12 digs after she registered 14 in her collegiate debut on Wednesday. Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) set a career high with eight digs two days ago against Loyola University Chicago and then bettered that mark vs. the Huskers, ending up with nine. Tarutis also finished with nine digs, after she had 14 on Wednesday. Notre Dame had 10 blocks, but the Huskers finished with 13 to do what only a pair of squads did in all of 2003 – outblock the Irish, who finished with the nation’s best average in the category. It was a matchup of the only two teams to lead NCAA Division I in blocking in the last four seasons. Senior OH/MB/OPP Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) was in on half the Irish blocks to lead her team. She had a pair of solo blocks after registering four on Wednesday. Brewster, who was first in the country in individual blocking in ’03, and junior captain OH Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) were both in on four, while Stasiuk took part in three blocks. Junior MB/OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) was Notre Dame’s most effective offensive weapon, as she finished with 10 kills on .381 hitting. Loomis had seven kills. The Irish, who had more kills than errors in just one game, finished with 33 kills (matching their fewest in ’03) and 28 attack errors for a .039 hitting percentage. That mark was the lowest for Notre Dame since they hit .037 in losing 3-1 to Northern Iowa on Oct. 17, 2001. The Irish managed only 29 assists, as Tarutis and junior Kelly Burrell (Phoenix, Ariz./Xavier College Prep School) had equal totals – 11 – for the second match in a row. Brewster led the match off with a service ace, as Notre Dame won the first three points. After the Irish were up 11-10, Nebraska took advantage of a Notre Dame service error and an attack error to take the lead for good. Brewster and Kelbley both had a pair of service aces in the opening game, but the Irish – who had 11 on Wednesday – did not register another ace the rest of the match. Notre Dame had 17 kills in game two, surpassing its combined total in the other two frames. Kelbley led the way with seven kills and just one error on 12 swings. Nebraska got seven kills from junior MB Melissa Elmer and six from freshman OH Sarah Pavan, who ended up with a match-high 16. Elmer finished with 11 kills on .562 hitting. Game three featured five early ties, but Pavan ignited a streak of six straight points with a kill at 7-7, and Nebraska controlled the rest of the game. Notre Dame got within three at 19-16, but could not come any closer. The Irish had just seven kills (nine errors) in the game, but they held NU to 13 kills and 13 errors (five on Notre Dame blocks). Two players had double-doubles for Nebraska, as Saleaumua ended with 10 kills and a match-high 16 digs, while sophomore S Dani Busboom notched 35 assists and 12 digs. Freshman MB Tracy Stalls had seven kills and seven blocks in her collegiate debut. The contest snapped Notre Dame’s 10-match regular-season home winning streak, while the 19-point victory for Nebraska is tied for the largest margin of win for a team against the Irish in the Joyce Center since the 30-point scoring format was adopted in 2001. The other 19-point Notre Dame defeat came in the second round of the 2002 NCAA Championship against Michigan State. Two of the five largest volleyball crowds in the Joyce Center have come against the Huskers, as 3,102 watched Nebraska beat Notre Dame in 2000. The Cornhuskers beat the Irish for the fourth straight time, and they now hold a 3-2 edge in matches played at Notre Dame. It was the sixth time in a row that both teams were nationally-ranked when they played. Only one time in nine matches between the schools has the outcome not been determined after three games. The Huskers became just the third team ranked among the nation’s top two to play volleyball in the Joyce Center. NU was the highest-ranked team to play at Notre Dame since #2 Florida beat the Irish in four games on Sept. 8, 1997. Saturday’s match, like Friday’s, will feature live internet audio available to subscribers of College Sports Pass on www.und.com, as Dr. Lorne Oke and Stephen Hinkel call the action.