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Irish set to play final home game

Mike Gilloon | Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Notre Dame takes on Northern Iowa tonight at 7 p.m. at the Joyce Center in the last home match of the season for the Irish.

The Panthers are currently in second place in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) with a record of 13-4 and 21-8 overall. They come into South Bend riding a five-match winning streak, their last loss a sweep at the hands of league-leader Wichita State on Oct. 30.

Notre Dame setter Ashley Tarutis believes that even though the Panthers are not from a major conference, they still pose a tough challenge for the newly-crowned Big East regular season champion Irish.

“I think that they’re a really good team and that we should be evenly matched,” she said. “The game will be really good.”

Northern Iowa outside hitter Laura Rowen was named MVC freshman of the week after posting a hitting percentage of .455 in matches against Western Illinois, Creighton and Drake last week. Rowen led the Panthers with 14 digs against Creighton and tallied a season-high .542 hitting percentage against Drake.

The Panthers have also been led this year by junior Rachael Tink. The junior had 18 digs and 18 kills against Drake Saturday night and will need a similar performance if they are to pull off the upset against the Irish.

Emily Loomis, Kelly Corbett and Leah Nedderman are the three seniors who will be making their last appearance on the Joyce Center floor.

Nedderman was sidelined in 2003 with a stress fracture in her right foot and has not played this year either. This has been a major disappointment for both Nedderman and the Irish team as she showed a lot of promise early in her career. In only her first collegiate start against Providence, the then-sophomore came through with a team-high 14 kills.

Libero and defensive specialist Corbett has seen her duties increase this season after not playing very much early in her career. She has helped Notre Dame become the best defense in the Big East, holding opposing teams to a .134 hitting percentage.

Of the trio, Loomis has had the most decorated career. The Fort Wayne, Ind. native has played both outside hitter and middle blocker and has started almost every match of her four years. Loomis was named to the first team all-Big East team in 2002 along with winning the most outstanding player award at the 2002 conference tournament.

She only got better in 2003 when she was honored as an honorable mention All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) and was also named second team all-Big East.

Loomis also holds numerous school records, including most consecutive matches with 10 or more kills (21) and most kills in a match without an error (24).