Oct. 5, 1997
Balanced Offense Leads Women's Volleyball Past Connecticut
NOTRE DAME, Ind.-Senior hitter Jaimie Lee's 18 kills led one of the most balanced Notre Dame offensive attacks of the season as the Irish wrapped up an impressive weekend showing with a 15-3, 15-11, 15-6 victory over visiting Connecticut in BIG EAST Conference action Sunday afternoon at the Joyce Center Arena.
Notre Dame (9-5, 2-0 BIG EAST)--in quest of its third straight BIG EAST title--hit .355 or better in all three games en route to a .403 match hitting percentage, its second-best of the season. The Irish have averaged .391 hitting over their last three matches, including a .451 effort against Marquette on Sept. 23 that represents the best hitting pct. by a Notre Dame team in the last 53 matches. The Irish have needed a combined time of just three hours and 16 minutes to complete the last three matches.
Lee had just two errors to go along with her 18 kills on 30 attempts (.533) while fellow Irish co-captain Angie Harris had 12 kills and just two errors on 26 swings (.385). Sophomore middle Mary Leffers had 10 kills on .381 hitting (2 err., 21 att.) and 6-3 freshman opposite Christi Girton continued her impressive play with nine kills on .444 hitting (1 err., 18 att.).
Junior middle Lindsay Treadwell added seven kills (.211), marking the first time in the last 19 matches that five Notre Dame players have totaled seven-plus kills in the same match and the first time in 27 matches that five Irish players have posted seven-plus kills in a three-game match.
The 1996 Notre Dame team posted a similarly balanced offense in two matches at the University of Pittsburgh. On Nov. 2 of last season, Notre Dame's 15-9, 15-10, 15-8 victory over the Panthers included seven-plus kills from Lee (12), Jen Briggs (11), Leffers (9), Jenny Birkner (9) and Jen Rouse (7). Three weeks later (Nov. 24), the Irish beat the Panthers in four games for the BIGEAST Tournament title (15-6, 15-6, 13-15, 15-10) behind Lee (19 kills), Treadwell (18), Birkner (15), Briggs (11) and Leffers (9).
Notre Dame has won all 28 of its matches against BIG EAST opponents since joining the conference in 1995, with 24 of those victories coming by 3-0 scores. The Irish have yet to lose to a conference opponent in the seven-year tenure of head coach Debbie Brown, going 65-0 over that stretch (including 37-0 in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, from 1991-94).
The victory was the 291st of Brown's 12-year Division I head coaching career, leaving her nine shy of the 300- win plateau. Notre Dame has won 51 of its last 52 home matches against unranked opponents and is 76-3 at home versus unranked teams during the Brown era (1991- ).
Connecticut hit .231 in Sunday's match while the Irish held the advantage in blocks (6-2) and aces (9-3), led by a season-high five from Harris. Junior rightside hitter Jenelle Koester led UConn with 12 kills on just .167 hitting while junior hitter Annette Rynn had 15 kills (.323) and sophomore middle Chanice Harris added seven kills (.353).
The Huskies battled back from a 9-1 deficit in the second game, cutting the lead to 11-6 with Koester serving. The teams then turned in one of the longest rallies of any season, totaling 14 attack attempts and two overpasses. Notre Dame's ninth attack of the rally finally resulted in a Treadwell kill and the Irish built their lead to 14-6 over the next four rotations. The visitors then fought off four game points while cutting the lead to 14-10 before Treadwell and Molly McCarthy blocked Rynn for the clinching point.
NOTES: Notre Dame averaged 16.16 kills per game on .365 hitting in the weekend matches with St. John's and UConn while holding the two opponents to a combined 10.33 kpg on .105 hitting ... the Irish owned a 14-4 service ace edge in the two matches ... after averaging nearly twice as many service errors as aces in the first 12 matches of the season, Notre Dame had an even ratio of aces-to-errors in the weekend action (14/14) ... Sunday's match marked the 12th time that Harris has totaled five-plus aces during her Irish career while raising her Irish record career ace average to 0.627 per game (205/327) ... after a slow start to her season ace total, Harris has averaged an ace per game over the last five matches (14/14) ... Lee now has played in 97.5 percent of Notre Dame's matches during her four-year career (116/119), with two of those missed matches coming earlier this season when she was busy captaining the U.S. World University Games team ... Harris heads into Tuesday's home match against Illinois State with 1,276 career kills, fourth all-time in Irish history and just 23 behind Jessica Fiebelkorn (1989-92) ... Lee's 1,130 career kills rank ninth in Irish history, 32 behind Alicia Turner (1989-92) and 41 behind Birkner ... Lee's big kill effort against the Huskies raises her career kill average to 2.97/gm, fourth in Irish history (Harris is first, at 3.90) ... Lee's season kill average of 4.91/gm is on pace to break the Irish record of 4.59 (set by Christy Peters in 1994) ... Harris now stands alone in second place in Irish history with 69 career double-digit kill matches (Peters is first, with 80) while Lee is alone in fifth, with 51 ... Harris and Lee are the first Irish teammates to both total more than 50 double-digit kill matches in their careers ... Harris, who had 11 digs vs. UConn, also moved into a tie with Turner for fourth in Irish history with 29 career double-doubles (matches with 10-plus kills and 10-plus digs) ... Lee enters the Illinois State match 54 digs shy of becoming the fifth member of Notre Dame's 1,000-kill/1,000-dig club ... Lee's three block assists vs. the Huskies moved her past former teammate Rouse (251) into ninth on the Irish career blocks list (252).