Spikers sweep over weekend
Anne Loughery | Tuesday, November 30, 2004
After this weekend’s success, coach Debbie Brown has been counting her blessings.
The Irish (20-8) gave her much to be thankful for last weekend, as they swept UC Irvine 3-0 on Friday and edged out Long Beach State on Saturday 3-2. Brown said she is proud of the team’s competitive spirit and the team’s ability to shine under pressure.
“All around everyone played with a lot of confidence this weekend,” Brown said. “At different times during the matches, different people would step up when we needed them to.”
Brown added this weekend served as a final prep for the competition the team expects to face in the NCAA tournament this weekend.
“It was good to play teams stronger than those in the Big East and still have success,” Brown said. “It was just perfect for what we needed going into the NCAA’s.”
UC Irvine (18-10) gave Notre Dame its first test of the weekend, but the Irish cruised to a victory, sweeping the Anteaters 30-23, 30-28, 30-27.
Notre Dame dominated defensively, registering 13 blocks for an average of 4.33 per game and 13 digs. Additionally, the Irish limited the Anteaters, who were vying for an NCAA bid, to a .146 attack percentage.
Junior Lauren Brewster led the Irish effort, taking part in eight of the team’s 13 blocks and just missed a triple-double. Further, she finished with 11 digs and 10 kills with .333 hitting.
Junior captain Meg Henican also played a crucial role in the team’s success, collecting a team-high 13 digs.
Long Beach native Ashley Tarutis helped the Irish to a .287 hitting percentage and matched her season high for assists with 41. The hometown crowd also saw Tarutis lead the Irish to a .409 attack percentage in the last game.
Leading the Irish hitters was junior Lauren Kelbley, who totaled 14 kills on .357 hitting. Freshman Adrianna Stasiuk and senior Emily Loomis followed up her efforts with Stasiuk posting 11 kills and Loomis adding eight kills.
“We played really steadily against UC Irvine,” Brown said. “[Cooper] had some unbelievable blocks and I think as a team, we have become a lot more confident.”
Capitalizing on a five-point run after trailing 14-11, the Irish quickly seized control of the first game.
UC Irvine encountered much of the same in the second game, plagued by Notre Dame’s ability to sustain runs and defensive efforts. The Irish held their opponents to 13 kills on a .049 hitting mark.
Although UC Irvine looked as though it could make a comeback in the third game, the Irish slammed shut their window of opportunity, thanks to the combined efforts of Cooper, Loomis, Kelbley and Tarutis.
Loomis continued to impress on Saturday in the Long Beach State match, helping the Irish edge out the 49ers 30-28, 22-30, 25-30, 30-22, 16-14. In one of her best career performances, Loomis swung for a match-high 29 kills and had a season high .414 hitting percentage.
Defensively, Loomis continued to dominate, taking part in a match-high three solo blocks and six total bocks.
“Loomis was absolutely outstanding,” Brown said. “She made some great swings and blocks. She was really the difference maker.”
Teammate Kelbley also proved to be an offensive standout, collecting three crucial fifth-game kills after the Irish faced match point. Kelbley became the 15th player in the history of the program to record 1,000 kills, totaling 1,006 career kills by the end of the match.
Cooper also showcased her offensive capabilities, collecting 12 kills and recording a .462 attack percentage.
Long Beach State freshman Alexis Crimes, the Big West Rookie of the Year, proved to be a challenge for the Irish, as she ended up with nine blocks and 27 kills on .469 hitting.
Henican led the Irish defense with 25 digs and brought her total digs to 513 for the year to break a school record from 1993.
The first game demonstrated just how tight the matchup was, with 17 ties and each team holding no more than a three-point margin. The Irish relied on Loomis, who had eight kills and .636 on hitting and Cooper, who had six kills on .667 hitting to lead the offense.
But Notre Dame was able to pull it off in the fifth game, through a team effort.
The Irish take the courts again this weekend in the first round of the NCAA tournament, facing Valparaiso, who defeated them earlier this season.