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Brewster, Irish notch two victories

Mike Gilloon | Monday, September 13, 2004

Meg Henican needed just a couple of words to describe the performance of her team.

“It’s encouraging,” the Irish captain said about a weekend that saw the Notre Dame volleyball team get back on the right track as it won three matches to capture the Cal-Poly Best Western Royal Oak Invitational and stop a three-match losing streak.

The Irish defeated Fresno State Friday night before downing Sacramento State and Cal-Poly Saturday to improve their season record to 4-3.

Lauren Brewster was named the tournament MVP as she averaged 3.82 kills per game while posting a .372 hitting percentage. The junior middle blocker also had 28 digs, 18 blocks and four aces during the two matches. The other all-tournament selection for the Irish was outside hitter Lauren Kelbley. She tallied 4.00 kills per game along with seven service aces to spark the Irish offense.

After a five game win over Fresno State Friday in Cal-Poly’s Mott Gymnasium, the Irish came out hot on Saturday. They didn’t lose a game in defeating Sacramento State 30-16, 30-24, 30-28 in the first match before sealing the tournament title with a 30-23, 30-24, 30-14 sweep of Cal-Poly.

Henican was happy about the consistent, steady play that saw the Irish defeat three traditionally strong California teams, including the defending Big Sky conference tournament champions in Sacramento State.

“It was good. It was really good,” Henican said. “We played three good teams and overall it was a great team effort to get the wins.”

Saturday’s match against Sacramento State saw Notre Dame turn in its top statistical performance of the young season. They recorded 59 kills, almost 20 per game, while posting a .311 hitting percentage. Freshman setter Ashley Tarutis led the Irish offense with 37 assists.

After struggling in its match last week against Valparaiso, Henican was glad the team was able to improve on some of its weak points before going into their match against defending national champion USC next weekend.

“[This tournament] was a great opportunity to work out some of the problems that we had been having,” Henican said. “Obviously USC is a great team and we will need to play really well against them.”

The team held the Hornets to a match hitting percentage of only .116 behind the work of Henican who had 26 digs, the second most in a three game match in Irish history.

The defense was dominant again against Cal-Poly in the weekend’s final match. Notre Dame had 47 digs, 17 coming from Henican, to hold the Mustangs to a .044 hitting percentage. Cal-Poly had trouble getting the ball past Brewster as her six blocks paced the Irish.

While the Irish swept through both of Saturday’s matches, Fresno State was not so easy to dispose of Friday night. The 30-21, 27-30, 30-20, 31-33, 15-12 battle was the third straight five game match for Notre Dame. Thankfully for the Irish, this time they earned a victory after being beaten by Valparaiso and Nebraska in their two previous matchups, and used that momentum on Saturday.