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ND Volleyball: Notre Dame drops pair in California, now 3-2 on year

Conor Kelly | Monday, September 5, 2011

Two loses over the weekend at the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., ended Notre Dame’s undefeated season as the Irish fell to host Stanford and Saint Mary’s (Calif.).

Despite the five-hour trek to the west coast, Irish coach Debbie Brown refused to let the travel serve as an excuse for the loss.

“As I said before, we came in here expecting to win, and I don’t think the travel really affected us too much,” Brown said. “The girls are used to it, and, though we played two California teams, I don’t think we can us it as an excuse.”

On Friday night, No. 6 Stanford handed the Irish (3-2) their first loss of the season 3-1 (25-12, 25-13, 21-25, 25-23). In a pattern that continued throughout the weekend, the Irish found themselves victims of their own poor play despite taking the first point of the match.

“We have to get more consistent in our play,” Brown said. “The last two sets we played much better, and, in my mind, the difference between the first and last half of the match is quite huge.”

On Saturday, Saint Mary’s dealt the Irish a 3-0 (25-18, 25-16, 25-23) loss as the Gaels outslugged the Irish on offense with three players notching over ten kills.

Saint Mary’s finished the match hitting at a .261 clip, led by junior Lauren Corp’s eighteen kills and .395 hitting percentage. The Irish ended the match at .122.

“To be blunt, our offense really needs to get better,” Brown said. “We can’t expect to hit .122 and win too many matches against the competition we’re playing. I’m confident we’ll get better.”

One obvious bright spot for the Irish was the play of freshman middle blocker Jeni Houser, whose six kills, along with sophomore Andrea McHugh’s seven, led the Irish against Saint Mary’s. Houser was named to the all-tournament team.

“Houser has been great for us, and she’s really coming into her own as a player,” Brown said.

For a team with high expectations and higher hopes, the two-loss weekend was certainly a setback. Back at home next weekend for the Golden Dome Invitational, the Irish look to get back on track.

“Obviously we go into every match with the expectation of winning it,” Brown said. “We have to if we want to reach our goals. We’re eager to get back in the gym and back to work next weekend.”

Notre Dame returns to action at home in the Joyce Center on Friday at 7 p.m. against Lipscomb University.

Contact Conor Kelly at

ckelly17@nd.edu