Feb. 4, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Sophomore MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) and the University of Notre Dame volleyball team registered a pair of landmarks recently, when the final NCAA Division I women’s volleyball statistics were announced. Brewster became the first Irish player ever to lead the nation in a statistical category, with a 1.78 block average, while Notre Dame notched its first-ever statistical crown in a team category. The Irish averaged 3.72 blocks per game, with second-place Cornell finishing at 3.52.
Brewster, who vaulted into the national lead in blocking midway through the season and stayed among the top two throughout the campaign, edged Valparaiso’s Liz Mikos for the title, when the Crusader finished with an average of 1.77 per game. Brewster, who was named honorable mention All-America and first-team all-BIG EAST this season, finished fourth in the nation as a freshman with a 1.68 block average.
Brewster had one of the top blocking campaigns in Irish history. Her block average was the third-best season mark in the Notre Dame annals, just .01 off the school record. Brewster’s 155 block assists matched the second-highest total in Notre Dame history, just six shy of the record she established in 2002. Her 185 total blocks were the third-best total ever for an Irish player.
In addition to leading the BIG EAST in blocking (with second-place Ashleigh Young of Rutgers more than 0.5 blocks per game behind, at 1.27), Brewster was tops on the Irish and fourth in the league in both hitting percentage (.341) and points (506.5/4.87). In conference play, she posted a .403 attack percentage, by far the best of anyone in the league, to go along with a BIG EAST-best 1.93 block average (Georgetown’s Sara Albert was second at 1.38). Brewster also led Notre Dame in kill average (372/3.58) and was second in service aces (27/0.26). She was honored as the BIG EAST Player of the Week three times in the month of October and was one of just two players to win the award on three occasions this season. Brewster also was the MVP of the Shamrock Invitational.
After not doing it at all a year ago, the Irish sophomore led her team in kills 14 times in 2003, while being tops in blocks 17 times, hitting percentage 15 times, and points on 16 occasions. She hit over .300 in 19 of 30 contests, including a stretch of seven consecutive matches over .350. Brewster had four or more blocks in all but four matches, and was in on six or more 15 times. She had a career-high 13 blocks twice this season, and set her career high in kills three times in ’03, most recently with 22 against Virginia Tech on Nov. 7.
Having completed half of her collegiate career, Brewster already has taken a prominent place in the Irish career record book. Her block average of 1.73 currently ranks as the best all-time, while her .318 hitting percentage is third-highest. She already ranks eighth in total blocks, with 360.
The Irish finished second in the NCAA in blocking in 2002 (3.66) and have set the school record for season block average in each of the last two campaigns after the previous mark had stood since 1988. Notre Dame’s mark this season was nearly 1.00 block per game better than any other BIG EAST team, with Pittsburgh next with a 2.62 average. In BIG EAST play only, the margin was even greater, with the Irish averaging 4.21 blocks per game and the Panthers next at 2.76. The Irish were outblocked just twice in 30 matches this season.
Notre Dame, behind the setting of senior co-captain Kristen Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.), also finished 47th nationally in attack percentage with a .251 mark. The Irish hit .288 in BIG EAST matches, by far the best perecentage among league teams. Miami was second at .245. Notre Dame posted a higher attack percentage than its opponent 23 times this season, including in every regular-season conference match.
Notre Dame finished the season with a 23-7 record, earning a share of its eighth BIG EAST regular-season title in nine seasons in the league as well as its 12th consecutive NCAA Championship berth. The Irish, who finished 24th in the AVCA Coaches’ Top 25, fell in the first round of the NCAA tournament to #19 Louisville. Notre Dame opened 21-2, the second-best start in school history, and put together a 14-match winning streak – the second-longest in the program’s history – while peaking in the national rankings at No. 12, the highest listing for the Irish since 1996. Four Notre Dame players were named honorable mention All-America.