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Volleyball: Irish beat two Big East foes

Heather VanHoegarden | Monday, October 6, 2003

Notre Dame continued its domination in Big East play this weekend.

Saturday saw the Irish shut out St. John’s (18-5, 0-1), 3-0. Sunday, the Irish defeated Connecticut (11-7, 1-1) three games to one.

Against St. John’s, No. 17 Notre Dame (12-2, 4-0) turned in its best hitting performance of the season, hitting .369 on the match. Setter Kristen Kinder orchestrated the offense with 45 assists.

Emily Loomis was once again one of Kinder’s favorite targets, as she hit .500 with 16 kills. Loomis has been outstanding this season, hitting .500 or better in three matches already. Saturday’s match was her 19th consecutive match with 10 or more kills, a streak that dates back to last year.

Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Kelbley continued her play of late, hitting .429 with 11 kills. Senior Katie Neff hit in double digits as well, with 10 kills.

Senior outside hitter Jessica Kinder also added to the offensive explosion, with eight kills on .368 hitting.

Since switching back to a 5-1 rotation that they used last season, the Irish have upped their hitting percentage to .319, after hitting .231 with the 6-2 rotation.

However, the Irish have once again found strength in their blocking. They are ranked third in the nation in blocks per game, with 3.33. Saturday saw the Irish record 10 blocks on the match.

Defensively, Meg Henican led the team with 14 digs, her eighth consecutive match with at least 12 digs. Freshman Danielle Herndon also had 11 digs for the Irish.

Before Saturday, the Red Storm led the Big East in hitting percentage (.272) and opponent hitting percentage (.143). However, the Irish reversed that trend on them, hitting .226 higher than their previous opponent.

Notre Dame had a strong showing Sunday as well, defeating Connecticut (30-22, 20-30, 30-28, 30-18).

Lauren Brewster matched her career high with 17 kills, and set a career high with .596 hitting percentage. She had one error in 27 attempts. Brewster leads the conference in blocks, and she was in on eight against the Huskies.

However, the Irish hitters were not the story of this match, as the Notre Dame defense shined. Defensively, the Irish registered 88 digs as a team, with five players having 10 or more.

Henican once again led the way for the Irish, with 20 digs. This was the second best performance of her career. Jessica Kinder also played well again, with 19 digs.

Loomis got in on the defensive action as well, as she set a career high with 17 digs. She is new to the back row, since in the old 6-2 alignment, she rarely played defense. In the last 15 games, however, she has been steady, with 41 digs.

Herndon had 14 digs and setter Kristen Kinder added 10.

The Irish blocking brigade once again was dominating, with 19 blocks as a team. Jessica Kinder and Kelbley were in on six blocks to lead the Irish.

Kelbley led the offense with 15 kills and 18.5 points, while Loomis had a dozen kills. Jessica Kinder added eight kills.

With the weekend sweep, the Irish remain one of three unbeaten teams in Big East play, with their 4-0 record. Miami and Pittsburgh are also 3-0.