Sept. 4, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the second day in a row, senior middle blocker Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./ Brentwood H.S.) was dominant in the fifth game to lead the University of Notre Dame women's volleyball team (3-0) to the championship of The Inn at Saint Mary's Shamrock Invitational with a 30-20, 28-30, 21-30, 30-23, 15-10 win against Arizona State (1-4) Sunday afternoon in the Joyce Center. Brewster, who was tabbed the tournament's MVP, had six kills on nine swings in the final game and finished with a career-high 28 kills on .328 hitting to help the Irish to their first-ever win against the Sun Devils.
Notre Dame rode the momentum from a game-four victory into the decisive frame, winning the first three points. Arizona State rallied and went up 5-4, but the Irish responded - for the second day in a row - with a fifth-game run that would give them control of the match. This one started with a Brewster kill and saw ND stretch its advantage to 11-6 after an ace from senior co-captain OH Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.), another kill by Brewster, a kill from senior OH/MB Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.), and a pair of kills by freshman OH Mallorie Croal (Villa Park, Calif./Mater Dei H.S.). Brewster finished the match for the second consecutive day, converting Notre Dame's second match point. The Irish had 11 kills on 20 attempts in the final game for a .450 hitting mark.
Henican, Croal, and sophomore setter Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) were tabbed to the all-tournament team, along with ASU libero Sydney Donahue - who scrambled and dove her way to 43 digs on Sunday - and Lauren Paolini and Dariam Acevedo from Texas. Notre Dame won the Shamrock Invitational for the eighth time in its 11 years of existence and is now 27-4 all-time in the event.
Brewster topped her previous career high in kills by one (was 27 vs. Northern Iowa in 2004) and also took a match-high 64 attack attempts, by far the most of her collegiate days (previous high was 55 vs. UNI). She also added five digs, three blocks, and an ace for a match-high 31 points. For the tournament, Brewster had 46 kills (4.60) on .310 hitting to go with 15 blocks (1.50), 10 digs (1.00), and 56.5 points (5.65). She is just the second player - from any school - to be tabbed the Shamrock Invitational MVP on two occasions, after also garnering the award in 2003 (there was no tournament in '04). Two-time All-American Christy Peters was the MVP of the first two Shamrock Invitationals, in 1993 and '94. Brewster has been a tournament MVP four times in her career, having also copped the honor in both the Cal Poly Invitational and the BIG EAST Championship in 2004.
A match that featured several long rallies produced high dig totals for both squads. The Irish had four players register 18+ digs and finished with 105 as a team, the most by Notre Dame since a 108-dig performance against Illinois State in a five-game win on Nov. 14, 2001. Leading the way in the floor game was Croal, who accounted for a collegiate-high 22 digs to go with her 15 kills and four blocks. She registered double-doubles in both of her first collegiate starts and had 30 kills (3.00), 32 digs (3.20), and 34.5 points (3.45) for the tournament. Croal also was the third different player to lead Notre Dame in digs in as many matches this season.
Henican had 21 digs to mark the first time since the 2002 NCAA tournament that a pair of Irish players both had 20+ digs in a match. In that first-round contest with the College of Charleston, Henican had 23, while Jessica Kinder notched 21. The current Irish co-captain has had 20+ digs in nine of the last 12 matches, and she has been in double figures in digs in 31 in a row. Henican also had the best hitting match of her career, posting career highs in kills (15) and attack percentage for a five-game match (.303) and adding three blocks and a service ace for a career-high 18.5 points. In the Shamrock Invitational, she posted 22 kills (2.20 per game), plus 34 digs (3.40) and nine blocks (0.90) for 29.5 points (2.95).
Junior libero Danielle Herndon (Plant City, Fla./Durant H.S.) ended up with 18 digs, as did Tarutis, who has had double-doubles in every match this season. She set Notre Dame to a .266 hitting mark - including over .340 in three games - and piled up a career-high 65 assists, two better than her total against Northern Iowa last season. Tarutis' dig total matched her collegiate best, first done vs. Fresno State on Sept. 10, 2004. For the weekend, she set Notre Dame to a .221 hitting mark and a pair of victories, while averaging 11.60 assists and 2.80 digs per game.
Kelbley made it five in double figures in digs with a career-best mark of her own, ending up with 10 to go with 18 kills for her first collegiate double-double. Freshman DS Madison Clark (Sturgis, Mich./Sturgis H.S.), who made her first collegiate start, added seven digs, the most for her this season.
Offensively, ASU was led by junior OH Nicole Morton, who had 17 kills, while junior OH Nina Reeves added 15 on .419 hitting off the bench. Another reserve, sophomore OH Kristin Trayser, had 12 kills. Senior setter Giovana Melo had 54 assists and 11 digs and set the Sun Devils to a .240 percentage.
Arizona State had beaten Notre Dame in each of the previous matchups, most recently in 1993. The first two wins came with current Irish mentor Debbie Brown leading the Sun Devils. She graduated from Arizona State in 1982 before taking over their program.
Notre Dame is 3-0 for the first time since 2002, but the fourth time in the last six seasons.
Arizona State came out quickly, winning four of the first five points and going up 10-7 early. Notre Dame then responded with an 18-4 run to take control of the game. The Irish had 20 kills and only five errors for a .357 hitting mark. Brewster led the way with six kills on 10 errorless swings, while Henican and Kelbley notched five apiece. ND also had four blocks.
The Irish appeared to be in control of the second game, leading 18-13 before ASU went on a run. The Sun Devils then edged ahead 28-25 and finally converted on their third game point to win the game by two points. Donahue had 14 digs in the game for ASU, but ND held a 31-28 edge in the category. Henican led the way with nine digs in the game to go with six kills, while Kelbley had six kills.
Game three featured 10 ties and five lead changes. Arizona State took a timeout with a 20-19 lead and then finished the game with a 10-2 run. The Sun Devils hit .310 in the game.
In the fourth game, Notre Dame broke an 11-11 tie with an 11-3 run to take control. The Irish had 19 kills on .341 hitting, including eight on .412 hitting by Brewster.
The Irish will return to action next weekend, as they travel to San Antonio, Texas, for the first time in program history to take part in the UTSA Dome Rally in the Alamodome, also the site of the NCAA final four. Notre Dame will take on #7 Southern California on Friday at 7 p.m. before facing Oklahoma Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and #8 Florida on Sunday at 11 a.m.
Arizona State (1-4) 20-30-30-23-10 Notre Dame (3-0) 30-28-21-30-15