Sept. 20, 1997
Texas A&M Tops Notre Dame for Tournament Of Champions Title
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Tournament MVP Kristie Smedsrud had 17 kills while Stacy Sykora added 15 and all-tournament pick Cindy Lothspeich had 10, as #14-ranked Texas A&M used a first-game rally to defeat #25 Notre Dame 17-15, 15-9, 15-10 in the championship match of the first annual Tournament of Champions.
New Mexico survived a marathon match with California in the consolation match (15-13, 9-15, 15-12, 6-15, 15-13), with the teams needing two hours and 33 minutes to reach an outcome (the fourth-longest match in recorded history at the Notre Dame Joyce Center).
Notre Dame (5-5)--which has seen each of its five losses come against ranked teams this season--had a 14-13 lead in the opening game but could not secure the clinching points. Texas A&M (7-2)--which totaled 14 blocks against the Irish and 27 over the course of six games in the tournament--regained the serve before posting three clutch blocks in the closing moments to help claim the 1-0 lead.
Irish senior outside hitters Angie Harris and Jaimie Lee both earned their third all-tournament selection of the season (in four tournaments). Harris--who had 23 kills in Friday's win over UNM--had 13 kills but also was guilty of nine errors on 45 swings (.089). Lee came through with a team-best 16 kills on .167 hitting and has now registered double-digit kills in all eight of her full match appearances this season.
Notre Dame failed to find the offensive balance it has been seeking, as Harris and Lee accounted for over 70 percent of the team's kills. Sophomore middle Mary Leffers chipped in eight kills on .148 hitting while junior middle Lindsay Treadwell suffered through one of the worst offensive matches of her career, totaling no kills and three errors on eight swings. Sophomore opposite Emily Schiebout and freshman setter Denise Boylan accounted for the rest of the Irish kills, recording two each.
The Aggies outhit the Irish .246-.080 while enjoying a 14-7 blocking edge. Four aces from Harris helped the Irish post a 5-3 serving edge. A&M senior setter Farah Menslik joined Smedsrud and Lothspeich on the all-tournament team.
Texas A&M's big blocking night featured eight block assists from Smedsrud, seven block assists from sophomore middle Amber Woolsey and a seven total blocks (one solo) from Lothspeich.
In Saturday's earlier marathon match, all-tournament selection Amber Smith came through with 28 kills on .323 hitting to help UNM (6-6) hold off Cal, despite a .220-.190 hitting advantage for the Bears. Three other UNM players--Jenny Pavley (13), Paula Feathers (13) and Zhao Lu (11)--recorded double-digit kills in the match.
California (5-5) also had four players with double-digit kills, led by 23 from Jessica Dinaberg (.197) and 16 from all-tournament pick Brooke Coulter, who had just two errors on 33 swings (.424). Kellie Alva also had 16 kills (.258) while Elena Berman had 18 kills on an impressive .405 hitting night.
Cal and UNM both had eight aces in the match, with UNM posting 1 15-11 blocking edge. The Bears ultimately were done in by 18 service errors (to UNM's eight), plus five blocking errors.