Sept. 19, 2004
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The University of Notre Dame women's volleyball team (5-4) lost to South Carolina (7-2) in four games, 30-28, 25-30, 30-22, 30-23, in the title match of the Gamecock Invitational Sunday afternoon in the Volleyball Competition Facility. Despite the defeat, junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) and freshman S Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos Calif.) were named to the all-tournament team. The match will be televised on a tape-delayed basis and can first be seen on College Sports Television (CSTV) at 6 p.m. (EDT), 5 p.m. in South Bend, on Sunday.
South Carolina's blocking and Notre Dame's continued offensive struggles were the story of the match. The Gamecocks finished with 14 blocks, and the Irish, who had a four-match winning streak snapped, hit over .075 in just one game, finishing with a .146 attack percentage on the afternoon.
Brewster led Notre Dame's performance with 13 kills on .242 hitting to go with 12 digs and three blocks for 20.5 points. She also served up six aces - including four on a single rotation in game three - to mark the best serving performance by an Irish player since Angie Harris had a school-record nine aces on Oct. 20, 1995 against Syracuse. Brewster's total - which was further accentuated by her having only one service error - is tied for the second-highest mark ever by an Irish player in a four-game match. In the two matches of the Gamecock Invitational, she had 10 aces and only one error.
The Irish serving game was good all-around, finishing with a season-high 15 aces to tie the school record for aces in a four-game match. Notre Dame previously posted that sum on Oct, 14, 1994 at Texas and on Sept. 9, 1995 against Kentucky in Bloomington, Ind. The Irish also got three aces from junior captain L Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.), and two each from Tarutis, sophomore DS Danielle Herndon (Plant City, Fla./Durant H.S.), and freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.). Notre Dame committed just eight service errors.
Junior OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) had 12 kills on .273 hitting, while rookie OH Ellen Heintzman (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) had 11 kills and senior MB Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) added eight.
Henican led Notre Dame defensively with 15 digs, while Tarutis and Stasiuk had eight apiece.
Notre Dame started quickly, winning four of the first five points en route to building a 13-5 advantage. South Carolina's offense then began clicking, and the Gamecocks went on a 17-4 run to go up by five, 22-17. Six straight points from the Irish made the game close again, and it would feature five more ties. The final deadlock came at 27-27, but Carolina then used an Irish attack error and a block by Lynae Vanden Hull and Lauren Ford to get two game points. After a Gamecock service error, Vanden Hull took a set on the right side and slammed it crosscourt onto the hardwood to put South Carolina ahead. After the Irish offense started well in the opening game, it floundered, ending up with as many attack errors (11) as kills, though seven of them came on USC blocks (Vanden Hull and Nicole Miller were each in on four).
The Irish led from the beginning of game two and never allowed the Gamecocks to tie the score, but they could not build an advantage of more than four points early. After a kill by Miller following a Carolina timeout pulled USC to within 12-9, the Irish won eight of the next 10 points to go up 20-11. South Carolina then won four straight points, but the rest of the game featured the teams mostly trading points before a service error by USC on the second Notre Dame game point evened the match at 1-1. The Irish had 21 kills and just three errors for a .409 hitting mark in the game.
South Carolina jumped out to a 6-2 margin early in game three, but Notre Dame then won seven straight points. Six of them came on Brewster's serve, a rotation that included four aces from the Irish junior. The game was tight, but USC made a run midway through. After holding an 18-17 advantage, the Gamecocks won seven straight points, keyed by Vanden Hull's serve, which produced a pair of aces. Notre Dame could not get closer than six the rest of the game, which ended on an ace by Katelyn Panzau.
After the Irish won the first two points of the fourth game, Carolina won the next six to take an advantage it would never relinquish. USC went ahead by as many as eight points in the game, but the Irish made a late run, cutting the lead to 24-22. South Carolina then won six of the next seven points to win the match, using a block from Sarah Morgan and Miller on the final play to beat the Irish by a 3-1 score for the second time in as many years.
Notre Dame will have eight days off before it returns to action, traveling to Michigan on Tuesday, Sept. 28 for a 7 p.m. (EDT) match. That contest will feature live audio available to subscribers of College Sports Pass.