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Volleyball: Another sweeping win for Irish

Heather VanHoegarden | Sunday, November 9, 2003

Forget about losing a match, the Irish don’t even give up games anymore.

No. 14 Notre Dame (19-2, 8-0) defeated Syracuse (16-12, 3-5) Sunday afternoon in three games (30-16, 30-26, 30-21).

With the win, the Irish extended their winning streak to twelve matches. Notre Dame lost its last game Oct. 21 to North Carolina on the road.

Sunday, the Irish dominated Syracuse from the beginning, holding the Orangewomen to a -.195 hitting percentage in the first game. Notre Dame took a 15-3 lead to start the match and never looked back.

“I was really, really pleased with how we came out in game one and how we played really strong throughout that game,” coach Debbie Brown said.

However, game two was a different story, as the Irish trailed the whole way before Katie Neff’s solo block evened the score at 19. Even though the Irish trailed almost the entire game, they never felt the game was out of reach, despite their poor hitting.

“Our passing was a little off tonight,” Brown said. “Because of that, our offense was also a little off.”

But the Irish didn’t let their .140 hitting percentage in game two phase them, as they registered four blocks in the game and 15 on the match, led by Lauren Kelbley’s 4.5 blocks.

“The fact that our hitting wasn’t as strong didn’t affect us as much [because of our strong blocking],” Brown said.

However, even though the Irish escaped game two, they were looking for more going into the stretch run of the season.

“I kept thinking that we were going to pick it up and get back into it faster than we did,” Brown said. “I didn’t feel like it was anything they were doing to us, it was just us not handling the ball well on our side.”

Game three was another story as the Irish came out slow, but picked it up early, after tying the score at nine.

Led by junior Emily Loomis, the Irish found their offensive punch and were able to come up with a .220 hitting percentage, good enough to win the game. Loomis had eight kills in the last game alone and finished with 19 on the match to lead the Irish.

“Loomis had a good match offensively. Mentally, for her it was good to get back in a rhythm and for [setter] Kristen [Kinder] to have the confidence to go to her.”

Notre Dame only hit .171 on the match, well below their season average of .257. But, the Irish were able to come away with the win, and that was what mattered.

“We are looking at bigger and better things,” Brown said.