Oct. 30, 2004
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The resurgence in the offense continued, as the University of Notre Dame volleyball team (12-6, 5-0 BIG EAST) hit .339 en route to a sweep (30-24, 30-23, 30-22) of Georgetown (13-11, 1-5) Saturday afternoon in McDonough Gym. The Irish had five players with eight or more kills on .295+ attack percentages en route to their second-highest hitting mark of the season. It was the first time in eight matches in 2004 that the Hoyas had lost at home.
Freshman S Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) and junior S Kelly Burrell (Phoenix, Ariz./Xavier College Prep School) continued their recent success in leading the Irish offense, which had 53 kills and made a season-low 12 attack errors. The hitting mark has been topped only one time by this year’s Irish squad: last Sunday against St. John’s (.356). Tarutis and Burrell were outstanding early, helping the Irish to 19 kills and just two errors in the opening game for a .425 hitting mark, a season best in any single game in ’04. Notre Dame had 17 kills in each of the next two games, hitting .324 and .273, respectively. Tarutis ended with a match-high 31 assists, while Burrell added 10. It was the ninth time this season that both setters ended with double-digit assists, and Notre Dame is 7-2 in those contests. Tarutis also converted four attack attempts into a pair of kills.
The performance continued a trend of increased offensive efficiency and potency, which began seven matches ago. During that span, Tarutis and Burrell have led the Irish to 15.88 kills per game and a .265 attack percentage (413 kills, 140 errors, 1030 attempts) en route to a 6-1 record (20-6 in games). In the first 11 matches of the season, Notre Dame was averaging 14.49 kills per game on .210 hitting en route to a 6-5 record and just a 24-19 advantage in games won. In the recent stretch, the Irish have hit below .200 in just six of 26 games, meanwhile topping .300 on 13 occasions (half the time) and posting a trio of .400+ hitting marks.
Tarutis and Burrell had no shortage of hot hitters to work with, as each of the five starting hitters were strong. Junior OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) had a team-high 12 kills on .296 hitting to end a miniature slump in which she had hit below .200 in three consecutive matches and posted more than seven kills only once. Junior MB Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas/Lutheran South Academy) turned in Notre Dame’s top attack percentage, a .429 mark resulting from her career-best total of eight kills on just 14 swings. The hitting mark also was a career high for matches in which she had five or more kills.
Senior OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) continued to settle into a rhythm in the outside hitter position, as she ended up with 11 kills and just two errors for a .391 hitting percentage. Loomis moved back to outside hitter – where she played during her first two collegiate seasons – on Oct. 2 after being a middle blocker for the early portion of 2004 and an opposite last year. Of late, she has been outstanding, averaging 3.22 kills per game on .311 hitting (74 kills, 14 errors, 193 attempts) over the last six matches. Loomis had struggled early in 2004, averaging 2.33 kills on .180 hitting in the 12 matches prior to this recent stretch.
Freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) also ended with 11 kills, while notching a .348 attack percentage. It was the fifth time in the last six matches that she has had 11 or more kills after she had hit double digits in kills just four times in her first dozen collegiate tilts.
Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) hit efficiently, but saw her streak of matches with double-digit kills come to an end. She finished with nine kills and just one error for a .320 hitting mark. Prior to Saturday, she had posted 11 or more kills in 15 consecutive matches, the fourth-longest streak of double-digit-kill contests in Irish history. It was the ninth match in a row – and 15th time in the last 16 contests – that Brewster hit at least .250.
Notre Dame’s serve-receiving unit also was exceptional. In addition to consistent passing, which allowed Tarutis and Burrell to distribute the ball effectively, the group – which is led by Stasiuk Loomis, and junior captain L Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) – allowed only three service aces by the Hoyas. Georgetown came into the match with the second-best ace average (1.80) in the BIG EAST, but they were held to only 1.00 per game. In 2003, the Hoyas led the conference in aces in league play, with an average of 2.05 per game. Georgetown’s Ashley Lancaster came into the week as the conference’s top server, averaging 0.42 per game, but she was held to only one ace, while Margaret Vernon – who was sixth in the BIG EAST at 0.35 was shut out. On the year, Notre Dame has surrendered just 70 aces in 69 games, an average of 1.01 per game that ranks as the second-best mark in school history, behind only last year’s school-record average of 0.94 (for which Henican was largely responsible).
The Irish, who rank third in the BIG EAST in ace average (1.70), served well, ending up with six aces and just five errors. Stasiuk and Kelbley, who are fourth and fifth, respectively, in the league leaders, both served up a pair of aces, while Tarutis and Brewster added one each. It was the second match in a row that Notre Dame had more aces than errors after it had accomplished that feat just four times in the first 16 matches of the season. In the last two contests, the Irish have 11 aces and nine errors for an ace-to-error ratio of 1.22. That immediately followed a particularly rocky serving period (covering six matches), in which Notre Dame had 34 aces and 72 errors for a ratio of 0.472 or more than two errors for every ace.
Notre Dame nudged its conference-leading season block average (3.15) upward, finishing with 10. Brewster, who ranks second in the BIG EAST in the category, took part in half of those, while Cooper was in on four and both Stasiuk and Tarutis took part in three. The setter matched her collegiate high in blocks after having just 10 all season prior to Saturday.
Henican led Notre Dame’s floor defense with 12 digs. She has been in double digits in digs in 17 of 18 contests in 2004. Tarutis was next with eight, while Stasiuk added seven digs.
Georgetown senior middle blocker Sara Albert was effective, as she turned 18 attack attempts into a match-high 14 kills, while making just one error for a .722 hitting mark, the top percentage by any player against Notre Dame this season. Albert is the BIG EAST’s most efficient hitter, as she came into the match with a .381 season hitting percentage.
Notre Dame beat the Hoyas for the seventh consecutive time and 14th time in 15 all-time contests. The Irish have won 11 consecutive games.
Notre Dame will return to action on Sunday, when it travels to Villanova for a 1 p.m. (EDT) match.