Sept. 25, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The 11th-ranked University of Notre Dame women's volleyball team (8-1, 1-0) turned in by far its best offensive performance of the season en route to a 30-12, 30-23, 30-26 victory over Seton Hall (7-7, 1-1) Sunday afternoon. Sophomore setter Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) orchestrated an attack that hit over .310 in every game and .319 for the match, as the Irish won their BIG EAST Conference opener for the 11th consecutive season.
Notre Dame finished with 48 kills (16.00 per game) and made just 10 attack errors, the fewest for the Irish in a match since Nov. 15, 2003, when they had eight at West Virginia. Four of Tarutis' hitters posted attack percentages over .360, with three of them above .415. Leading the way was senior All-American MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.), the 2005 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year who began conference action by pounding 14 kills and making just a single error for a match-high .448 hitting mark. Another senior, OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.), had 13 kills on .367 hitting, while sophomore OH/L Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) and freshman OH Mallorie Croal (Villa Park, Calif./Mater Dei H.S.) both hit .417, with five and seven kills, respectively. Tarutis had kills on all three of her attack attempts and finished with 40 assists (13.33 per game). She also had a pair of service aces to go with 10 digs, notching her seventh double-double in nine matches this season (and 19th of her career).
The offensive fireworks were much needed for Notre Dame, which came into the weekend ranking 10th (out of 15 teams) in the BIG EAST in both hitting percentage (.200) and kills per game (14.81). The Irish had hit below .205 in five consecutive matches and had not posted a mark of .275 or better in any contest this season. Sunday's effort was the highest attack percentage for ND since it hit .339 against Boston College in the semifinals of last year's BIG EAST tournament.
The 29-point victory - the largest since a 30-16, 30-17, 30-20 win against St. John's on Oct. 24, 2004 - came as a result of a strong and consistent all-around performance by Notre Dame. The Irish finished with advantages in every statistical category, and the closer margin in game three came largely as the result of improved play by Seton Hall (which, for instance, made no attacking errors not coming on Irish blocks, after hitting six balls out of the court in each of the first two games).
The Irish defense also was effective, piling up 65 digs (21.67 per game) and 13 blocks (4.33) in holding the Pirates to a .124 attack percentage. In game one, SHU had just seven kills and 13 errors for a -.130 hitting mark. Notre Dame had several defensive stars, as nine different players took part in blocks and 10 registered digs (five players had six or more). Stasiuk was particularly effective, notching five blocks (including two solo) before switching into the libero jersey at the intermission. She also had 13 digs. Senior co-captain L/OH Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) led ND in digs with 17, and she also was in on a pair of blocks while playing at outside hitter in the final game. Senior MB Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas/Lutheran South Academy) shared match-high honors in blocks with Stasiuk, assisting on five blocks, while also registering a career-high six digs. Brewster was in on three blocks, as was freshman MB Justine Stremick (Langdon, N.D./Langdon Area H.S.), who saw her most extensive action as a collegian.
Notre Dame also continued its trend of excellent serving, as the Irish notched eight aces, while making just three errors. The last time the Irish finished with a +5 ace-to-error margin or better in a match was Sept. 19, 2004, when they had 15 aces and eight errors against South Carolina. Sunday's was the third consecutive match that ND had more aces than errors, after having done that just once in the first six contests of the season. In the recent stretch, the Irish have 28 aces in 11 games (2.55) to go with just 18 errors (1.64). Leading the way vs. SHU was Stasiuk's jump serve, which registered a season-high three aces and missed the court just once. Tarutis and Brewster both had two aces, while Kelbley served up one, without an error.
The Irish have won all 11 matches against Seton Hall, taking 33 of 34 games.
Freshman MB Tricia Meyers led the Pirates with 10 kills on .300 hitting, plus two aces. Junior libero Jessica Pompei had a match-high 20 digs.
Notre Dame - which suffered its first defeat of the season the last time it was on the court - came out quickly, winning the first six points. The Irish dominated throughout the game, never allowing Seton Hall to win more than two consecutive points. The 18-point margin of victory matched the second-largest ever for Notre Dame in a game. The only game more-lopsided since the adoption of the current scoring format was a 30-8 game-one win against St. John's on Nov. 9, 2001. The Irish made just a single attacking error on 32 attempts (.312). Notre Dame also had seven blocks, with Stasiuk taking part in four of them.
The Irish also never trailed in the second game, but could not put together any extended runs. ND went up 29-21 and converted on its third game point. Brewster had seven kills on 10 attempts in the game, which saw the Irish pile up 18 kills - every one coming on an assist by Tarutis - on .325 hitting.
Seton Hall, which opened BIG EAST play by sweeping DePaul on Saturday but lost its top player - junior OH Jessica King - to a knee injury in the opening game of that match, was much improved in the final game, going ahead on the scoreboard for the first time on the afternoon by winning the first two points and then staying with Notre Dame for much of the time. The score was tied 24-24, when a Croal kill put the Irish - which used all 13 players on their roster in the game - up for good. Kelbley had eight kills in the final game, and the Pirates had 19 kills on .326 hitting.
The match signified the beginning of a busy stretch, as Notre Dame will play four times in eight days and on seven occasions in a 15-day span. The Irish will jump back on the road - continuing a stretch of 12 of 14 matches being played away from the Joyce Center - on Tuesday, traveling to Loyola Chicago for a 7 p.m. (CDT) contest. It will be the first time ND volleyball plays a match in Chicago since 1996. Live internet audio of the match will be available to subscribers of Fighting Irish All-Access via the Notre Dame official athletics website, www.und.com.
Seton Hall (7-7, 1-1) 12-23-26 #11 Notre Dame (8-1, 1-0) 30-30-30