Sept. 10, 2005
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - The 19th-ranked University of Notre Dame women's volleyball team improved to 5-0 by sweeping Oklahoma (4-3) 30-28, 30-27, 30-17 Saturday afternoon in the UTSA Dome Rally in the Alamodome. The Irish were solid at the end of both of the first two games and dominated in the final frame, going up 18-3 en route to the victory. Senior MB Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas/Lutheran South Academy) led a strong defensive effort, matching her career high of 10 blocks in just three games.
The Irish defense was a big factor in the victory, as Oklahoma hit just .045 (39 kills, 33 errors) for the match, including .059 in game one and -.122 in the final frame. Notre Dame finished with 14 blocks (4.67 per game), including nine in the third game. Eight of Cooper's blocks came in the final game, while senior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) was in on five blocks and another senior, OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.), assisted on four. Cooper first posted 10 blocks in a five-game win over Illinois State last season and equaled that total in last weekend's 3-2 upset of #11 Texas.
Two Notre Dame players - junior Danielle Herndon (Plant City, Fla./Durant H.S.) and sophomore Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) - led the team with 12 digs apiece. Stasiuk, who also had three blocks, posted a career-high 29 digs as the Irish libero in Friday's upset of #8 USC and returned to a hitting role (starting at opposite) for the first time since missing the first three matches of 2005 due to an offseason rib injury. Herndon donned the libero jersey for the fourth time in five matches this season. Senior co-captain OH Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) contributed eight digs, but saw her streak of 31 consecutive matches with 10 or more digs snapped.
For the second day in a row, Notre Dame allowed its opponents to build advantages early in games, but then rallied and came through on big points late to claim game victories. The Irish trailed most of the opening game, though never by more than three, before winning, but then went down by as many as five (16-11) in game two before finally pulling ahead late. That changed in the third game, as ND was nearly perfect for the first 21 points and then was never seriously threatened.
Notre Dame's sometimes-prevalent offensive struggles continued, as the Irish hit below .190 for the third time in the last four matches, ending at .183 and not hitting the .250 mark in any game. They were led by Brewster, who had a match-high 15 kills and also led all players with 18 points. Henican continued her strong hitting, finishing with 11 kills for her third straight double-digit effort after having done that just four times prior in her career. Cooper added eight kills on team-high .333 hitting, while Kelbley - who had a match-high 25 kills on Friday - posted five while making just a single error on only 19 attempts, marking just the second time over the past two seasons she has not taken at least 20 swings in matches she has played.
Sophomore setter Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) registered 33 assists, while senior setter Kelly Burrell (Phoenix, Ariz./Xavier College Prep School) made her first appearance of the season, finishing off the match. She had one assist and a spectacular solo block during her time on the court. Notre Dame did finish with more kills (43-37) and assists (38-35) and a higher hitting percentage than Oklahoma.
Kelbley led the Notre Dame serving game once again, as she had a pair of aces and no errors, while also serving up an 11-point run in game three (following a nine-point streak on her serve vs. S.C. on Friday). She now has 11 aces (0.55 per game) and only five service errors this season. As a team, the Irish ended up with six aces and 10 service errors.
Notre Dame is 5-0 for the fourth time in program history and the first time since 1995. The Irish also have now won 44 consecutive matches when winning the first two games. Plus, ND continued its recent success on neutral courts, winning for the eighth consecutive time when not playing at home or on the opponent's court. The Irish last loss a neutral-site match in the 2003 NCAA tournament against Louisville in Urbana, Ill.
The teams played for the first time since 1995 and just the fifth time overall, with Notre Dame edging ahead in the series, 3-2. Irish head coach Debbie Brown now holds a 19-14 career mark against current members of the Big 12 Conference.
OU was led offensively by junior MB Eliane Santos, who had 13 kills and 10 digs. Sophomore MB Anna Stadel finished with seven kills on .667 hitting to go with six blocks, while sophomore libero Hannah Sharp had 14 digs.
The opening game was tight most of the way, featuring 16 ties. Oklahoma opened up several three-point leads, including at 19-16, but could not pull away. With the score tied 28-28, ND got a block from Cooper and Kelbley and then a Sooner attacking error to end the game. A balanced Irish defense had five blocks and 18 digs in holding OU to just .059 hitting (15 kills, 12 errors). Carrying the offensive load was Henican, who had six kills on .417 hitting.
Oklahoma got out to an early lead in game two, going up by as many as five on three occasions. Trailing 16-11, Notre Dame won five of the next six points, but then could not tie the score until a Brewster kill made it 24-24. A Sooner error - in the face of Brewster's block - three points later put the Irish ahead for good (26-25), and Cooper ended the game with a kill over the middle. Notre Dame had 20 kills in the game, including seven from Brewster.
Notre Dame raised its level of play to perhaps as high as it has been all season to open the third game. The Irish sprinted to an 18-3 advantage, with all 14 of the ND points coming on kills, blocks, or aces.
The Irish will conclude action in the UTSA Dome Rally on Sunday, when they take on #6 Florida (7-0) at 11 a.m. (CDT). ND will be seeking its third top-15 upset of the young season.
Oklahoma (4-3) 28-27-17 #19 Notre Dame (5-0) 30-30-30
Kills: OU 39 (Santos 13), ND 43 (Brewster 15) Attack Pct.: OU .045 (Stadel .667), ND .183 (Cooper .333) Assists: OU 35 (Jackson 33), ND 38 (Tarutis 33) Service Aces-Errors: OU 4-6 (four players, 1), ND 6-10 (Kelbley 2) Digs: OU 55 (Sharp 14), ND 47 (Stasiuk & Herndon 12) Blocks: OU 7 (Stadel 6), ND 14 (Cooper 10) Points: OU 50 (Santos 13), ND 63 (Brewster 18)