Volleyball: Irish win streak continues
Heather VanHoegarden | Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Notre Dame enters tonight’s game sky high.
The Irish are No. 1 in NCAA Division I blocks per game and are ranked No. 14, as they hope to continue a 10-game winning streak when they face Illinois State (11-12).
“I think that we can win in three games,” senior setter Kristen Kinder said.
The Irish (16-2) have been led by the strong play of sophomore middle blocker Lauren Brewster, named Big East Player of the Week for the third time in four weeks.
Brewster had 36 kills on a .371 hitting percentage this past week. She also had 27 blocks, improving her blocks per game average to 1.87, which should be good enough to move her into the NCAA Division I lead.
“We have a great blocking coach [Robin Davis], and he has really worked with our middles to establish blocking strategies,” Kinder said. “Our middles are probably two of the best blockers in the country.”
Lauren Kelbley, another sophomore, can also be credited with helping create the early success of the Irish; she led the team in hitting to start the season.
“In the beginning, Kelbley was very dominant, and people picked up on that, and the blockers started committing,” Kinder said. “This left Lauren Brewster to dominate without the solid block, and she’s been super consistent, so I just keep going to her.”
Kinder has been the leader of the offense ever since the Irish switched to a 5-1 offensive set. Kinder makes sure that she gives her hitters the chance to shine.
“I have been trying to get in as much as possible and get extra setting reps to stay consistent for my hitters,” Kinder said. “I’ve really focused on getting the middles the ball because they are consistently getting kills that helps out our efficiency a lot.”
The blockers of the Irish must continue their dominance tonight, as the Redbirds return their leading hitter, Laura Doornbos, from an ankle injury after missing five matches. Doornbos is coming off a 20 kill, .379 hitting performance on Saturday, her second match since returning.
However, the Irish have many weapons to use. Junior Emily Loomis has been consistent with her all-around efforts, as has senior Jessica Kinder. Both lead the Irish with their play on offense and defense.
Meg Henican leads the defensive corps as the libero. Since switching to libero from outside hitter, she is averaging 4.04 digs per game.
The Irish will come off a strong blocking performance against Boston College, where they registered 19 team blocks, with Brewster in on 11.
Notre Dame’s 10-game winning streak is the first double-digit streak since an 11-game winning streak in 2000.