Nov. 25, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Sophomore setter Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) led a potent offense and senior All-American MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) broke the 17-year-old Irish record for career blocks, as the seventh-ranked University of Notre Dame women's volleyball team (28-2) swept Rice (17-11) 30-20, 30-20, 30-13 Friday evening in the Joyce Center in the inaugural Irish Thanksgiving Invitational. Notre Dame's 2005 regular season will come to a close on Saturday with a tough home match against Tennessee (20-8) at 7 p.m. (EST) that will be televised on a tape-delayed basis by Comcast and also will feature live audio on und.com. The Owls will face the other top team in the BIG EAST Conference on Saturday, taking on #9 Louisville at 4:30 p.m. in the Joyce Center.
After the Irish - who entered the match ranked fifth in Division I with an average of 3.58 per game - managed just five blocks throughout the first two games, it was Brewster who kickstarted a monster blocking performance in game three, as she first combined with senior MB Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas/Lutheran South Academy) for a block on senior RS/OH Olaya Pazo to break a 3-3 tie. On the next point, Brewster paired with sophomore OH Ellen Heintzman (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) for another block on the Venezuelan, which brought the Irish senior's career total to 700. That surpassed the previous Notre Dame record of 699 career blocks, which was done by Mary Kay Waller from 1985-88. Brewster would add another solo one to finish with five blocks for the match. She already has the Irish career record for block assists (currently 583; previous record was 516 by Mary Leffers from 1996-99) and ranks second to Waller in block average (1.68 to 1.65).
Tarutis' attack pounded 49 kills (16.33 per game) and made only five errors on 112 attempts for a .393 hitting percentage. It was the fifth time this season - all within the last 15 matches - that the Irish have hit over .390. Notre Dame's five attack errors were its fewest in a match since making only four en route to hitting .425 at West Virginia on Oct. 8.
Brewster led the Irish with a match-high 15 kills (all in the first two games) on 31 errorless attempts for a .484 hitting mark and a match-high 19 points. Senior OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) converted 10 of her 18 swings for kills, registering a .556 attack percentage. It was her fourth time hitting over .500 this season and the 86th time in her career that she has posted double-digit kills. Kelbley stands just two away from the Irish career record in that category, which is 88 by current AVP professional Angie Harris.
Sophomore OH Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) posted her 11th double-double of the season (20th of her career), finishing with 10 kills on .333 hitting, as well as 12 digs and three blocks (two solo) for 13.5 points.
The Irish used 14 blocks (4.67 per game) - including nine in the final game - to hold the Owls to .152 hitting. Kelbley led all players with a season-high seven blocks, while Brewster had five and Stasiuk and Cooper both took part in three. Freshman MB/OPP Justine Stremick (Langdon, N.D./Langdon Area H.S.) also was in on a pair of blocks.
Senior libero and co-captain Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) - who broke the Irish record for career digs last weekend - led the floor defense with a match-best 19 digs.
After not doing so last weekend, Notre Dame served well on Friday. The Irish made only three service errors and got aces from five different players. One of those came from senior DS/S Kelly Burrell (Phoenix, Ariz./Xavier Prep School), who made a rare appearance at the service line and registered her first ace since Sept. 26, 2003, against Villanova.
The Irish allowed just a single ace on 49 Rice serves. Henican fielded 35 of those, while Stasiuk took 13 without making an error.
ND and Rice played for the first time since 1994, and the Irish now hold a 4-1 advantage in the all-time series.
The Irish improved to 28-2 on the season, making this the fifth time that Notre Dame has registered 28+ victories in a season. The last instance came in 1994, when the Irish started 32-2 and finished 33-4.
The Owls were led by freshman OH Karyn Morgan, who had 13 kills, and Pazo, who posted 10 despite a game-one injury that limited her playing time and effectiveness. Freshman MB/OH Jessica Holderness led the floor defense with 12 digs, while sophomore Rachel Lopez had 10.
After Rice led briefly (1-0 and 2-1) early in game one, Notre Dame built up a five-point lead (14-9), but could not stretch it much beyond that until late in the game. Rice cut the advantage to three at 21-18, but ND then finished the game on a 9-2 run, which included three kills and two solo blocks by Brewster, as well as strong serving from Cooper and Henican. Brewster had seven kills on 13 swings in the game, in which ND hit .326.
Tarutis began the second game with an ace, and the Irish went up 6-1 early. After a Rice rally made it 8-6, ND ran off eight straight points on the serving of Cooper. All but one of those came on Irish kills. ND had 20 kills on .419 hitting in the game, including eight on 16 swings by Brewster.
The Owls' third and final lead of the match came at 2-1 in the third game, which was tight early on. But after Notre Dame had its lead trimmed to 14-11, the Irish used a 16-2 run to end the game. That stretch included six Irish blocks. ND converted 11 of its 23 attempts for kills (.478) and did not make an error. Kelbley had five blocks in the game in holding Rice to just 13 kills and 12 errors (.028).
Saturday's Notre Dame-Tennessee match will be televised by Comcast Sports Net on a tape-delayed basis. Mike Lingenfelter (play by play) and Diana Steplyk (analysis) will have the call. It will air on Comcast cable channel 3 in South Bend on Thursday at 7 p.m. (ET), as well as on Comcast Sports Net Chicago on Wednesday at 8 p.m. (ET/7 central) and Thursday at 2 p.m. (ET/1 central), plus on Comcast Local in Michigan on Wednesday at 9 p.m. (ET), and on Comcast Sports South in Tennessee on Thursday at 7 p.m. (ET) and Friday at 2 p.m. (ET).
It also will be the final regular-season match in the Joyce Center for Notre Dame's five seniors: Brewster, Burrell, Cooper, Henican, and Kelbley.
Rice (17-11) 20-20-13 #7 Notre Dame (28-2) 30-30-30