Nov. 27, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The seventh-ranked University of Notre Dame women's volleyball team (28-3) won the first two games and had a pair of match points, but could not convert and eventually lost 26-30, 26-30, 30-28, 32-30, 15-9 to Tennessee (21-8) Saturday evening in the Joyce Center in the Irish Thanksgiving Invitational. Senior OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) and sophomore OH Ellen Heintzman (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) had 22 kills apiece, but the Irish took their third loss of the season, all coming in five games. Notre Dame, which earned an automatic bid after winning last weekend's BIG EAST Championship, will now await the announcement of the full 64-team field in the 2005 NCAA Division I Championship, which will be shown by ESPNews between 2:30-3 p.m. (EST) on Sunday.
After winning a pair of tight games, Notre Dame looked set to put the match away, leading 23-20 in the third. But the Lady Vols would rally and eventually get a kill and an Irish attack error when the score was tied 28-28. The Irish came even closer in game four, as they held a 28-26 edge and then had a match point at 29-28. That was erased by one of the 35 kills by junior OH/RS Kelsey Fautsch. A kill by ND senior All-American MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) made it 30-29, and the Irish were again a single point away from victory. But Fautsch responded with another kill, and senior setter Julie Knytych served up an ace to give Tennessee a chance to extend the match, which happened due to a Notre Dame attack error.
The teams split the first four points of game five, and UT then used a 7-2 run to go up 9-4 and take control of the game. But Notre Dame could not put together a run, winning back-to-back points just once in the frame and eventually seeing the match end on a Fautsch kill on Tennessee's second match point.
The Lady Vols used an outstanding defensive effort to keep Notre Dame to .200 hitting. Tennessee finished with 14 blocks and 106 digs (21.20), including 42 from senior libero Amy Morris. That was the second-highest total in Joyce Center history, behind 43 by Arizona State's Sydney Donahue on Sept. 4 of this season.
After having posting double-digit kills just three times this season - and never more than 13 - Heintzman notched 22 kills on Saturday, besting her previous career high (15 vs. Michigan State on Sept. 17, 2004) by seven. Kelbley hit the 20-kill mark for the third time this season, ending with 22 kills and only one attack error for a match-best .412 attack percentage. She became just the fifth player in program history to post 20+ kills on 10 occasions during her career. Kelbley also became the sixth Irish player ever to pass the 1,400-kill plateau.
Sophomore OH Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) registered a double-double for the third consecutive match and 12th time this season, ending with 14 kills and 13 digs, plus three aces and three blocks. Brewster added a dozen kills.
Senior co-captain and libero Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) led the Irish floor defense to 85 digs, their second-highest total of the season. She finished with 32 digs, a season high and the second-most in a match in her career, behind only her Irish-record performance of 37 at Seton Hall on Oct. 10, 2004. In her final regular-season match in the facility, Henican became the first ND player to have 30+ digs in the Joyce Center since Jessica Fiebelkorn had 34 against Bowling Green on Oct. 13, 1992.
Henican - who broke the Irish record for career digs last week - has had 10+ digs in 30 of 31 matches this season. That surpasses the previous Notre Dame record for matches with double-figure digs in a single campaign, which had been 29 by her in 2004. Henican has had 10 or more digs in 26 consecutive matches, the second-longest string in program history behind her own stretch of 32 straight that ended in September. She now has 537 digs on the season, which is only 16 away from her own Notre Dame record for digs in a season (553 in '04). She and Stasiuk also topped their own Irish record for combined digs in a season on Saturday, as they have now paired up for 915 digs. A year ago, they combined for 884.
The Irish posted 15 blocks, though only two came in the final two games. Brewster led the way with eight, while Kelbley and senior MB Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas/Lutheran South Academy) notched four each.
The 35 kills by Fautsch are the third-most in Joyce Center history, behind only 45 by Sarah McFarland of Loyola Marymount in 2000 and 36 by Ohio State's Vanessa Wouters in the 1996 NCAAs.
It was the first-ever meeting between Notre Dame and Tennessee in women's volleyball.
Tennessee (21-8) 26-26-30-32-15 #7 Notre Dame (28-3) 30-30-28-30-9