Nov. 23, 2002
The University of Notre Dame volleyball team returned to form for the final three games of a 3-1 victory over Connecticut (14-15) at the BIG EAST Championship in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Saturday afternoon. The Irish victory eliminates the Huskies from the tournament and advances Notre Dame to the championship match to face the Miami (Fla.) – Virginia Tech winner at 1 p.m. (EST) on Sunday.
It was a balanced offensive attack for Notre Dame, as four players scored double-digit kills in the match and three players enjoyed double-doubles in the contest. Jessica Kinder and Lauren Kelbley scored team and match highs with 15 kills each, followed by Emily Loomis with 14 and Katie Neff had 11.
Notre Dame entered the tournament this weekend with a two-match losing streak and seemed to still be stuck in a rut for the first game of the match. The Irish passing game was struggling and the team was unable to get its hitters on track. Connecticut took advantage and grabbed an early lead, while Notre Dame was unable to answer. A 30-26 UConn victory gave the number-four seeded Huskies all the momentum going into game two.
The Irish were finally able to get their game together in game two. They held Connecticut to a -.020 hitting percentage with a dominating performance by the Notre Dame middle blockers. With the Irish holding a slim 9-8 advantage, the duo of Lauren Brewster and Neff put together an impressive 12-3 run to seize control of game two. Brewster had three kills and a block during the stretch, while Neff added three kills and two blocks.
Connecticut was unable to recover in the second game and Notre Dame cruised to a 30-17 victory.
Notre Dame carried its solid play ahead into game three, jumping out to a 9-3 lead behind three kills from Kelbley and two from Jessica Kinder. Connecticut would draw no closer the rest of the game, while Kelbley dominated to collect 10 of her 15 total kills during the third game.
As impressive as the Irish offense was in game three, they put up even more spectacular numbers in game four. The Irish posted a .389 hitting percentage and held the Huskies to a .109 mark. Notre Dame quickly jumped out to a 14-4 led and never looked back – winning the game and clinching the match with a 30-18 score. Notre Dame’s big hitter in game four was Loomis, who chalked up five kills and an ace.
The double-double performances for the Irish in the match included Jessica Kinder (15 kills, 13 digs), Emily Loomis (14 kills, 11 digs) and Kristen Kinder (50 assists, 11 digs). Freshman libero Meg Henican posted a team and match-high 17 digs.