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    Notre Dame Volleyball Drops Another Five-Game Heartbreaker, This Time To Valparaiso

    FIGHTING IRISH Lauren Kelbley matched her career high with 22 kills on .365 hitting, while also setting a career best with nine digs and being in on seven blocks.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Lauren Kelbley matched her career high with 22 kills on .365 hitting, while also setting a career best with nine digs and being in on seven blocks.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Sept. 8, 2004

    NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame women's volleyball team (1-3) dropped a five-game decision for the second time in four days, falling 26-30, 30-24, 30-26, 24-30, 15-12 to Valparaiso (4-1) Tuesday night in the Joyce Center. The Crusaders had five players with 14 or more kills and five notched 12+ digs, while the Irish offensive inefficiency continued, though three Notre Dame players just missed triple-doubles. Valpo won the first two points of the fifth game to take an early advantage that it never relinquished. Notre Dame tied the score six times, but could not take the lead. The final tie came at 12-12, but three consecutive Irish attack errors handed Valparaiso its first win over Notre Dame since 1980, snapping an 18-match losing skid against the Irish. Junior OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) led all players with 22 kills, matching her career high. She made just three attack errors for a .365 hitting mark. Kelbley also had a career-high nine digs, as well as seven block assists and a pair of aces to finish with a match-high 27.5 points. Freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) ended just a single assist away from a triple-double, as she doubled her previous collegiate high with 16 kills on .342 hitting. She also notched season highs with 15 digs, nine assists, and five blocks, while adding two service aces for 21.5 points. Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) had 18 kills for the second match in a row and scrambled for 13 digs, bettering her previous career best by four. She also had eight block assists to end up with 22 points. Notre Dame's offense again sputtered, finishing with a .195 hitting mark, its third time below .200 in four matches this season. The Irish were outstanding in the opening game, slamming 23 kills on .327 hitting, but they would top .130 in just one of the remaining four frames. Rookie S Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) made her second start and played most of the match, though junior S Kelly Burrell (Phoenix, Ariz./Xavier College Prep School) also rotated in at times. Tarutis finished with 47 assists and a season-high 17 digs, while Burrell added nine assists. The Irish have now lost three straight five-game matches, dating back to last season. Notre Dame fell 3-2 to #2 Nebraska on Saturday and lost by the same score to Pittsburgh last November in a match that gave the Panthers a share of the regular-season BIG EAST title. Junior OH Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) led a Notre Dame floor game that finished with 91 digs, the highest total for an Irish squad since registering 108 against Illinois State on Nov. 14, 2001. Henican ended up with 20 of Notre Dame's digs, hitting the 20-dig plateau for the second time in four matches in 2004 and the sixth time in her career. Valparaiso's defense was even more impressive, accruing 102 digs on the night, including 29 from senior L Sara Silcox. Junior OH Jessi Novak added 25 to go along with 15 kills, while freshman OH Amy Palash had 17 digs and a team-high 16 kills. A pair of Penn High School graduates were key factors in the win, as sophomore MB Jessie Fox had 14 kills on .312 hitting and senior DS Lindsey Moore added a dozen digs. Junior S Katie Bova led a consistent Valpo attack that didn't hit better than .280 or worse than .185 in a game. At the end of the night, the Crusaders had posted a .225 attack percentage and Bova had 61 assists to go with 15 digs. The Crusaders beat a team receiving votes in the national poll for the second time in four days. Valpo did not drop a game in winning the Ball State Classic last weekend, including a win over the host Cardinals (which were receiving votes in the preseason poll) on Saturday. The Irish, ranked 25th in the preseason, came into Tuesday as the first team receiving votes outside the top 25 of the USA Today/CSTV Coaches' Top 25. The Irish attack was nearly unstoppable early. Kelbley opened the match with kills on the first three points, and 16 of Notre Dame's first 17 points came on kills. The Irish never built a lead of more than four points, but also never allowed Valparaiso to pull ahead in the first game. Both Kelbley and Brewster had seven kills and just a single error apiece in the frame. Notre Dame appeared to be well in control of game two, as it immediately opened up a 7-1 lead. After trading points until it was 9-3, Valparaiso went on an 18-5 run to take the lead for good en route to avoiding a shutout for the first time in the last 11 matches against the Irish. The Crusaders had 24 digs (nine from Palash) in holding Notre Dame to .085 hitting (12 kills, eight errors). The third game was the most closely contested of the night, as it featured 12 ties and four lead changes before Valpo prevailed. The Irish were up 8-6 before six straight Crusaders points put Valpo ahead for the first time. After finding itself down 20-18, VU then won five in a row to go ahead for good. A kill from Novak on the second game point put Valpo just one game from victory. The Crusaders had 18 kills in the frame, while the Irish managed only 14. Both teams had 21 digs, as Silcox notched nine and Henican had eight. Valparaiso made an effort to close the match out in four games, as it took leads of as many as four points three times early in game four (10-6, 12-8, 13-9), but Notre Dame battled back, going on a 14-3 run to take control. Valpo saved a pair of game points before a Stasiuk kill sent the match to a decisive fifth game. Notre Dame made just one attack error in the game, and both Kelbley and Stasiuk had five kills. The Crusaders had 20 kills and registered 28 digs, but still could not win the game. The Irish also had 20 digs. Both squads had eight kills and 11 digs in the fifth game, but Notre Dame's six attack errors (to only two for Valparaiso) proved to be the difference. Valparaiso's game two victory snapped a string of 32 consecutive game defeats against the Irish, a string dating back to 1987. It was the Crusaders first win in nine trips to the Joyce Center, which has seen three consecutive Notre Dame losses for the first time since 2000. Valpo head coach Carin Avery, a Mishawaka native and graduate of Mishawaka High School, beat Notre Dame for the first time in three tries. Her husband Mike is an assistant coach for the Irish men's soccer team. '03 blocking champ Brewster won a battle of the top two blockers in Division I from a year ago. She ended up with a match-high eight blocks, while Valparaiso junior MB Liz Mikos, who finished just .01 blocks per game behind Brewster, was in on six blocks. The Irish outblocked Valpo 15-7. Notre Dame will try to snap its three-match losing streak this weekend, as it travels to San Luis Obispo, Calif., for the Cal Poly-Best Western Royal Oak Invitational. The Irish will play Fresno State for the first time ever on Friday at 4:30 p.m. (PDT) in the Mott Gym. On Saturday, Notre Dame will take on another first-time opponent, Sacramento State, at 11:30 a.m. before playing the tournament host, Cal Poly, at 7 p.m. The tournament is the first leg of the longest midseason road trip in program history, as the Irish will be on the road for 10 straight matches and will not play in the Joyce Center again for 36 days, until a contest with Illinois State on Oct. 13.

     

     

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