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ND VOLLEYBALL: With Stasiuk back, Irish are on a tear

Tom Dorwart | Thursday, October 27, 2005

Adrianna Stasiuk doesn’t want much attention. She wants her team to have it.

But if she keeps playing the way she has been, it’s going to be impossible to ignore her.

Stasiuk was named the National Player of the Week by Collegiate Volleyball Update Tuesday.

“I got recognized and it was really nice, but I like to focus on the team,” she said. “I don’t like getting individual awards, really.”

Short and to the point with her answers, Stasiuk has statistics that are anything but short or small.

In the past three matches, the outside hitter has posted outstanding all-around numbers. She averaged 4.3 kills, 3.9 digs and 1.5 blocks per game in those matches, also posting match-high numbers in five different statistical categories on eight occasions.

In the last match – Sunday against Georgetown – Stasiuk pounded a team-leading 14 kills. She hit for a .419 attack percentage and has hit over .290 in each of the past five matches. In addition, she posted 10 digs for her sixth double-double in the past eight matches.

Considering those numbers and considering the way she flies all over the court, Stasiuk is an outside hitter by name only. At times, she plays like an outside hitter. Others, she plays more like a defensive specialist or a middle blocker.

The 5-foot-10 sophomore digs, sets, serves, spikes and blocks. This week, she led the Irish in both kills and hitting and placed second in both digs and blocks. She had eight blocks in last week’s matches despite blocking only seven times the entire rest of the season.

When asked about coach Debbie Brown’s opinion of her recent resurgence, Stasiuk was quick to reply.

“Obviously, she was happy with my performance, and I always try to make it better,” she said. “But I definitely want to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

While she played solid volleyball after returning from an off-season injury, she just recently has been hitting her stride. During the summer, she broke several ribs in a tubing accident. In hindsight, the fairly easy-going Stasiuk laughs at her injury.

“It’s kind of funny,” she said. “Who does that?”

Whatever she was doing, she must have been flying, flipping or doing something only a versatile volleyball player would do.

Her energy and versatility have sparked the Irish. Since her return, the Irish are 15-1. Notre Dame has won 11 straight matches and has vaulted to No. 7 in the polls – tied for the highest ever by a Notre Dame team.

Stasiuk missed the first three matches of the season but returned in time to lead Notre Dame to upset victories over then No. 4 Florida, No. 8 USC and Oklahoma at the University of San Antonio’s Dome Rally.

“At the beginning of the season, I was still knocking some rust off,” she said. “I hadn’t played in a long time.”

After an above average freshman year, she has evolved into an even more complete player. She has accepted more of a leadership role this season and developed her game.

“I think now that I’m not a freshman I have more leadership,” she said. “I think my role is kind of being an all-around player.”

Stasiuk leads by example and hopes to keep her team calm but still tries to get her team fired up when the time is right.

“I try to be a calming influence, but I also like to be kind of a leader of excitement and energy,” she said.

Excitement and energy are obviously building in the midst of an 11-match winning-streak. But this week, the enthusiasm is even more evident.

“I think everyone’s really excited,” Stasiuk said. “Everyone on the team is really into it. Everyone’s giving 100 percent.

“The energy level is really high. We’re all really pumped.”

The reason?

No. 6 and undefeated Louisville (20-0, 8-0 Big East) comes to town this Saturday for a 2 p.m. match at the Joyce Center. Though the Irish are ranked right behind their new Big East rival, Stasiuk knows her team has respect to gain.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” she said when asked if the Irish, despite sitting at 18-1 and 8-0 in the Big East, still have something to prove to the country and to the coaches who vote in the polls. “We definitely have something to prove. We always have something to prove no matter what.”

On the season, Stasiuk is averaging 2.65 kills per game, 4.3 digs per game, .72 blocks per game and 3.39 points per game. This week, in addition to being named National Player of the Week, she was named the Big East’s Player of the Week.

To some, like opposing coaches, she’s proven herself quite a bit already. But to Stasiuk, she has much more proving to do.

“Now, I’m just kind of getting back into it, getting back into the groove of things,” she said.