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ND Volleyball: Herndon anchors defense

Devin Preston | Thursday, November 16, 2006

Over the past four seasons, senior Danielle Herndon has been one of the most consistent and dependable players for Notre Dame, working as a libero and defensive specialist.

As the team’s only freshman in 2003, Herndon stepped up to play in every match throughout the season. And this year she is one of three marathon Irish players – joined by sophomore Justine Stremick and junior setter Ashley Tarutis – who have played in all 93 regular season games.

Herndon was also picked to be one of this season’s team captains, along with junior Adrianna Stasiuk.

“Being picked to be a leader for the team this year, being picked by other people for that position, was an honor for me,” Herndon said. “It’s something that I take pride in and really appreciate. It is important for the team, because we really don’t have a lot of upperclassmen.”

As a freshman, she led the Irish in digs in several matches, notching as many as 20 against South Carolina. This year, she has led the Irish in the category 22 times, ranking her third all-time in Irish history.

This season she has put together 466 total digs – Notre Dame’s fifth best for a single season – with a season-high 29 in a five-game match against Missouri. Danielle is fourth in the Big East, putting up 5.01 digs per game.

As a player, Herndon has been an important part of the Notre Dame defensive unit for the past four years, as well as a crucial member of the serving game.

Since her entrance, the program has seen great success in lowering the number of service aces allowed by the Irish. Prior to the 2003 season, the record for lowest average service aces given up per game during a season was 1.11.

By 2005, Herndon helped the Irish bring that average down as far as .80.

On the other end of the serve, the 2005 team was second in Irish history for service ace-to-error ratio, holding it at .758. This achievement was due in large part to Herndon’s leading performance with a 1.88 service ace-to-error ratio.

This year, she has gotten the job done as the go-to defensive player and has helped to hold opponents to an average hitting percentage of .186.

Although she has given a lot to the team, Herndon said her experience with the Irish has given her a lot as well.

“The most important experience for me,” she said, “has been the relationships I’ve made and the places we’ve traveled to, being able to see different places and different parts of the country.”

Just this year, the team has traveled to eight different states and Washington D.C. – going as far as Hawaii, Arizona and Herndon’s home state of Florida.

“We’ve been traveling a lot – I think we’ve traveled more this year than during any other season,” Herndon said. “Those are the times that have been the hardest, but also the most fun for us.”

But it is her bonds with her teammates that she has most enjoyed.

“It’s been really fun to be in the locker room with the team,” she said. “Everyone has great personalities, and we get along really well.”

During the past three seasons, Herndon has helped advance her team to the NCAA Tournament three consecutive times, even seeing the team advance as far as the Sweet Sixteen in 2005.

And this weekend, she will lead her young team into the Big East tournament in an effort to clinch one more NCAA Tournament appearance.