Nov. 12, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The eighth-ranked University of Notre Dame women's volleyball team (23-2, 12-1 BIG EAST) rebounded from just its second loss of the season for a 30-13, 30-25, 30-23 victory against Villanova (20-10, 7-6) Saturday morning in the Joyce Center in front of a crowd of 1,500. The Irish will look to clinch at least a share of the BIG EAST Conference regular-season championship on Sunday, playing host to Rutgers at 2 p.m. (EST) in the Joyce Center.
The Irish had several stars in the match and finished with advantages in every statistical category. The resurgence of Notre Dame's block was a major theme, as the Irish finished with 16 blocks (to Villanova's three) en route to holding the Wildcats to .125 hitting. Senior MB/OPP Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas/Lutheran South Academy) led all players with nine - including three solo blocks - and also had 10 kills to barely miss her first career double-double. Senior All-American MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) took part in seven blocks, and sophomore OH Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) had five. Sophomores OH Ellen Heintzman (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) and S Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) both had three blocks.
The Irish were one shy of their season-high mark for a three-game match after averaging only 2.82 blocks per game over their last three contests. ND came into the week ranked eighth in Division I in blocking, and the Irish now average 3.52 per game for the season.
Offensively, Tarutis led the Irish to 53 kills (17.67 per game) on a .326 attack percentage and piled up 46 assists, matching her second-highest total of the season for a three-game affair. She also had three kills. Senior OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) posted a match-high 13 kills, while Cooper - who led all players with a season-high 17 points - and Brewster both added 10. The All-American did not make an error on 22 attempts, ending with a .455 hitting mark. Stasiuk registered seven kills on .304 hitting, while Heintzman had seven kills.
Senior libero Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) led the floor defense with 21 digs. She reached double figures in digs for the 20th consecutive match and hit the 20-dig mark for the eighth time this season and 25th in her career. Stasiuk added 15 digs, while Tarutis had eight and junior DS Danielle Herndon (Plant City, Fla./Durant H.S.) posted seven.
Herndon led another strong serving day for Notre Dame, posting three aces and not making an error. She had just six aces on the season heading into the match and now has nine overall to go with only five errors. On Saturday, the Irish had four aces as a team and made only three errors, marking the 10th time this season they have had more aces than errors (after doing that just five times in 2004).
Notre Dame rebounded from a five-game loss at Pittsburgh last Sunday to avoid its first two-match losing streak since late September of 2004. The Irish have matched the best 25-match record in program history, done first in 1994.
ND is now 12-1 this season in BIG EAST Conference play and tied with Louisville for first place in the league standings. Both squads tied the conference record for most victories in BIG EAST action in a season, first done by the 2001 Notre Dame team that was 12-0. A win on Sunday for the Irish would clinch at least a share of the regular-season league title. It would be the 10th in the 11 years since Notre Dame became a league member that it did that. The Irish will be the No. 1 seed in the BIG EAST tournament, set for next weekend in Louisville, with a victory on Sunday. Louisville plays host to Syracuse - which stands third in the league standings with an 11-2 record - at 1 p.m. (EST) on Sunday. The Irish can be no worse than the No. 2 seed in the BIG EAST Championship, in which they have advanced to the title match in 10 straight seasons.
All but one of the eight spots in the league tournament has already been determined. Villanova can claim it with a victory at DePaul on Sunday. A loss and a Scarlet Knights' upset of the Irish would put Rutgers into the BIG EAST tournament.
Notre Dame improved to 14-0 all-time against Villanova. No team has played the Irish more without earning a victory. The Irish head into Sunday with a 12-0 mark against Rutgers, including 36-1 in games.
Villanova was led by freshman OH Alona Cherkez from the Ukraine, who had 12 kills and 11 digs. Junior MB Adrian Semrau posted 11 kills on .409 hitting, while freshman OH Dana Tartazky and senior L Megan Bye shared team-high honors with a dozen digs each.
The Irish came out quickly, winning seven of the first eight points and then using Cooper's serve to go up 13-4. Notre Dame lost consecutive points just twice en route to the 17-point victory. The Irish had 19 kills on .462 hitting to go with 24 digs and seven blocks, while holding Villanova to 11 kills and nine errors (.043). Brewster had five kills on seven swings to go with three blocks, while Cooper took part in four blocks.
Game two was tighter, and Villanova led 7-6 before a 7-0 run on Herndon's serve put Notre Dame up for good. The Wildcats cut the advantage to 27-24 late, but Notre Dame finished off the game.
The final game was close early on, but ND used a run on Herndon's serve to stretch its advantage to 18-13 and then put the match away.
Villanova (20-10, 7-6) 13-25-23 #8 Notre Dame (23-2, 12-1) 30-30-30