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Irish struggle at home in Shamrock Invitational

Heather VanHoegarden | Monday, September 15, 2003

The Irish never really got started at this weekend’s Shamrock Invitational. After defeating Indiana and Utah without playing their best volleyball, the Irish lost to South Carolina in the weekend’s final match.

“We didn’t bring it today,” senior setter Kristen Kinder said. “We were flat as a team.”

Despite their lackluster play, the No. 15 Irish managed two victories Friday and Saturday.

Friday night saw Notre Dame defeat Indiana (4-3) in four games (30-24, 30-23, 28-30, 30-19). However, the Irish were not pleased with their performance.

“I don’t think we came out ready to play against Indiana,” Kinder said. “It was a wake-up call.”

The Irish hit a mere .202 on the match, with 27 errors, which was unusual for the Irish, whose hitters had been dominating at the nets this season. However, they did have 16 blocks, twice as many as the Hoosiers.

Senior hitter Katie Neff, however, excelled, as she hit for a .375 percentage with 11 kills and just two errors. Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Brewster also had 11 kills on .348 hitting.

Saturday saw Notre Dame struggle with Utah (5-3). The Irish fought hard to earn the victory in five games (34-32, 16-30, 30-26, 26-30, 15-12).

“On Friday we definitely came out flat,” Kinder said. “Our big focus this weekend was Utah, and we just barely got the job done.”

Against Utah, the Irish hit .000 in the second game. They had eight kills and eight errors as a team. The Utes, on the other hand, hit .432. However, the Irish were able to rebound to pull out the match.

Emily Loomis had 12 kills, Meg Henican had 11 kills and 14 digs and Lauren Kelbley had 13 kills to lead the Irish.

Sophomore Lauren Brewster registered a career high 13 blocks, while Neff had a career high nine.

The Irish hit .138 for the match, their lowest performance since the 2001 NCAA Tournament against Michigan State.

“We’ve had a long stretch of games,” Kinder said. “We will learn what we need to do.”

Kinder also contributed 29 assists to go along with her 14 digs. Sister Jessica led the defense with 23 kills.

Based on the first two days of action, three Irish earned all-tournament honors. Neff and Jessica Kinder earned all-tournament, while Brewster was named MVP, the second tournament in a row in which an Irish player has taken the MVP.

Sunday, the luck of the Irish ran out, as their mediocre play caught up with them.

“We know that looking across the net tonight, we were the better team,” Kristen Kinder said. “The most disappointing part is that we beat ourselves.”

The Irish were unable to overcome South Carolina’s two game lead, as they fell in four games (30-26, 30-27, 24-30, 31-29).

Once again, the Irish struggled to hit, as they had a .165 attack percentage. Brewster led the way for the Irish with 15 kills, while Loomis added 14 and Kelbley added 12 kills, on .310 hitting percentage.

“South Carolina had an amazing defensive night,” Kristen Kinder said. “They dug out of their heads, which made it very hard for us to get kills.”

Kristen Kinder had 29 assists and 10 digs on the match. The defense of the Irish was solid on Sunday, registering 71 digs.

Freshman libero Danielle Herndon led the way with 20 digs. Henican had 17 digs, and Jessica Kinder had 14.

South Carolina had 75 digs, but made fewer hitting errors than the Irish, resulting in a .242 attack percentage.

“Knowing that it’s under our control – that it’s not that another team beat us – it’s that we beat ourselves, it’s so much better because we have it, we have the tools; we just need to do it,” Kristen Kinder said. “It’s a huge disappointment that we beat ourselves.”