The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Kelbley wins MVP, Irish capture Classic

Heather VanHoegarden | Monday, September 8, 2003

The Irish volleyball squad had fun this weekend. So much fun that they won two matches en route to the Longhorn Classic Championship.

“We played together awesome,” sophomore middle blocker Lauren Kelbley said. “It couldn’t have been more fun.”

Notre Dame defeated Houston (2-2) Friday and Texas (2-3) Saturday to win the championship.

Kelbley led the way for the Irish on the weekend as she connected on a career-high 22 kills with only two errors. This was good for a .526 attack average that went along with seven blocks. She was also named tournament Most Valuable Player.

“It was a complete team effort,” Kelbley said. “Even though I got the kills, my team had to be there to make the passes and give me the sets.”

Despite the strong play of Kelbley, the Irish struggled in the match against Houston, losing the first two games, 25-30. In those games, starting middle blocker Lauren Brewster sat out due to flu-like symptoms.

However, in the third game, the Irish picked it up, jumping out to a 10-4 lead. They never looked back, winning 30-21. Katie Neff registered eight blocks on the match.

Freshman libero Danielle Herndon led the defense of the Irish with 15 digs. Meanwhile, Meg Henican contributed 13 digs.

The middle blockers were set the most in the first game, as Brewster finished with 13 kills on .409 hitting percentage.

Friday was the first time that the Irish came back to win from an 0-2 deficit since Sept. 2, 2000, when they defeated BYU at the Joyce Center.

Saturday was a different story for the Irish as they came out strong and defeated Texas in three games.

“We made adjustments really fast, and that’s something we have worked on,” Kelbley said. “We just came out and made the adjustments that we had to right away.”

The Irish were forced to adjust as the Longhorns decided to put up two blocks in the middle. This led setters Kristen Kinder and Kelly Burrell to set the outsides more, where there were either one or no blockers.

Emily Loomis took full advantage of Texas’s defense, as she put away 15 balls from the outside, with just two errors. Kelbley, meanwhile, had eight kills with just one error.

Notre Dame blocked well once again, finishing with 13 blocks.

However, after taking the first game 30-20, the Irish ran into some problems. Neither team had more than a three point advantage the whole game, but the Irish came away with the game, as Loomis and Henican hit consecutive kills to win it 36-34.

“We juts kept fighting, even when Texas made their adjustments in the second game,” Kelbley said. “What our team gained from winning that game was just awesome.”

The Irish (4-1) were very happy with their performance this weekend.

“We just want to take every game and learn from it,” Kelbley said.