Nov. 7, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame women’s volleyball team (14-7, 7-1), which was playing without the injured OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.), lost 30-14, 30-22, 30-28 to Boston College (18-11, 4-4) Sunday afternoon in the Joyce Center. The loss dropped the Irish into a three-way tie for first place in the BIG EAST Conference standings, along with Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Notre Dame and the Panthers will face off on Friday at 4 p.m. (EST) in the Joyce Center in a contest to be played immediately before the football pep rally.
The Eagles used outstanding defense – averaging 4.67 blocks and 20.33 digs per game – to hold Notre Dame to a .080 hitting mark, while B.C. made only 10 attack errors en route to a .305 attack percentage. Leading the Eagles’ defensive charge were a pair of sophomores, libero Allison Anderson and middle blocker Shardai Davis. Anderson finished with a match-high 21 digs, while Davis took part in seven of B.C.’s 14 blocks, while also adding eight kills on .467 hitting.
The victory was the first ever against the Irish for Boston College, which had managed to win only a single game in 10 previous meetings. The Eagles also snapped a number of impressive streaks of Notre Dame home conference dominance. The Irish had been 58-0 in regular-season BIG EAST action in the Joyce Center since joining the league in 1995. Including time in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, Notre Dame had won 74 straight in regular-season conference play at home, dating back to a five-game loss to MCC foe Butler on Oct. 24, 1990. The Eagles also became the first league foe to sweep the Irish in regular-season play in the Joyce Center since Loyola Chicago did so on Oct. 10, 1984.
Notre Dame turned in its second-worst hitting performance of the season. The Irish had just 10 kills and eight errors in the opening game for a mark of .061, and it got no better in game two, as Notre Dame finished with 12 kills and 11 errors (nine on Boston College blocks) for a .020 attack percentage. The Irish were better at times in the final frame, which it appeared that they would claim, but a slow finish to the game gave them a .148 hitting mark.
In Kelbley’s absence, freshman OH Ellen Heintzman (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) made her sixth start of the season, but first since Sept. 19. She ended up with 11 kills to share team-high honors with junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.). Junior MB Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas/Lutheran South Academy) was just one off her career high, ending with seven kills on a team-best .211 hitting mark.
Junior captain L Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) led the Irish floor game with 15 digs, while freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) added 12 and rookie S Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) had 10.
Brewster, who had an Irish-best 14 points, also led the team by taking part in half of the eight Notre Dame blocks.
Boston College dominated the first game right from the beginning. The Eagles went up 12-4 early, causing Notre Dame to spend both of its timeouts in the first 16 points. B.C. continued to roll, allowing the Irish to win consecutive points just twice in the entire frame en route to a 16-point victory. It matched the largest margin of defeat in a game in Notre Dame history, equaling the score in the second game of a four-game loss against #16 Northern Iowa in 2001. The Eagles ended up with 14 kills and just one error for a .464 attack percentage, including five kills on as many swings from freshman OH Kelsey Johnson. Heintzman had five kills to lead Notre Dame.
The Irish led by as many as three (5-2) early in the second game, but B.C. then used a 6-0 run to take a 12-8 advantage. Notre Dame won the next four points to tie the score at 12-12, but a kill from Boston College senior OH Katie Andersen, who led her team’s balanced attack with 11 on the match, ignited a 6-1 run that put the Eagles ahead for good. Notre Dame got back to within three (19-16) at one point before B.C. converted on its third game point to take a 2-0 lead. The Eagles’ block was the big story in the game, as it accounted for nine of Notre Dame’s 11 hitting errors. Andersen had seven kills for the Eagles, who also had 24 digs.
Notre Dame appeared destined for an easy win in game three, as it came out of the locker room a different team. The Irish won four of the first five points and built a 9-3 advantage. B.C. then used an 11-2 spurt to take the lead at 16-13. Notre Dame would strike back, winning seven straight points to go up 20-16. The Irish held a 25-21 advantage when, after a timeout, Boston College won four straight points to force a tie. The Eagles broke a 26-26 deadlock with points on an Irish attack error and a kill from freshman Abigail Hasebrook that put them within two of victory. After a B.C. ball-handling error, Johnson slammed a kill to give the Eagles a pair of match points. The first one was denied on a kill from Brewster, but Davis ended the match with a kill of her own on the next point. Notre Dame had 19 kills in the final game – including seven from Brewster – but still made 11 errors.
A weekend of injuries and surprising results has left much to be decided before the BIG EAST Championship. With one weekend of play – which will feature two league matches for all of the teams involved – one berth in the league tournament, which will be played Nov. 20-21 in Pittsburgh, is still undecided, and three teams are still in the hunt for the regular-season conference title. Pittsburgh controls its own destiny on the final weekend, as it will hit the road to play Notre Dame on Friday (4 p.m.) and Syracuse on Sunday (2 p.m.), and two victories would give the Panthers the solo league crown after they shared the title with Notre Dame in 2003. The Irish and Orange also have matches against West Virginia next weekend (WVU at Syracuse on Friday at 7 p.m.; WVU at ND on Sunday at 2 p.m.). While the three league leaders have clinched spots in the BIG EAST tournament, four teams – Connecticut (5-3), Boston College (4-4), West Virginia (4-4), and Rutgers (3-5) – are still capable of claiming the fourth.