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Volleyball: No. 14 Irish look to continue streak

Heather VanHoegarden | Friday, October 31, 2003

The Irish are glad to be back at the Joyce Center.

No. 14 Notre Dame returns home Sunday for just the second time in two weeks, where they face Syracuse (16-11, 3-4 in the Big East).

The Orangemen come off a 3-2 loss to Boston College, and are hungry for a win. The Irish, on the other hand, will look to extend an 11 game winning streak, their longest in three years.

Notre Dame (18-2, 7-0) is led by their nation-leading 3.79 blocks per game average. Highlighting the Irish blockers is middle blocker Lauren Brewster, who leads the nation in blocking, with an average of 1.82 blocks per game. Brewster also had 11 kills with no errors on 21 attempts.

Brewster has been nicely complimented by Lauren Kelbley, who led the way for the Irish in Wednesday’s win over Illinois State with 11 kills on .444 hitting. Kelbley also added 15.5 points serving, while Brewster led with 17 points.

Senior setter Kristen Kinder led the offense with another double-double Wednesday, with 29 assists and 12 digs, the 24th such match of her four-year career.

Defensively, the Irish have been led, and rightfully so, by libero Meg Henican, who finished with 17 digs on Wednesday.

The Irish have been able to hold teams to weak hitting percentages, as Illinois State hit a mere -.008 on the match, with 31 kills and 32 errors.

However, Sunday’s match proves to be a challenge for the Irish, as the Orangemen will be looking for revenge after last year’s 3-0 loss to the Irish.

Syracuse holds opponents to a .199 hitting percentage, while they hit .219 as a team. However, the Irish have held teams to a .142 attack percentage this season. In the 20 matches so far this year, the Irish have allowed opponents to hit .190 or better just four times.

Sunday’s match provides the Irish with an opportunity to extend their win streak to 12, which would match the longest winning streak of coach Debbie Brown’s era.

Brown’s 18-2 record marks the best start for the Irish since 1994, when Notre Dame started 32-2 and finished 33-4.

The longest winning streak in Irish history is 17, done in 1986. During the current 11-match streak, Notre Dame has won 44-of-48 games, only losing one each to Purdue, Villanova, Connecticut and North Carolina.

Sunday’s match kicks off at 2 p.m. in the Joyce Center.