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Volleyball: Hot Irish continue their winning streak

Heather VanHoegarden | Monday, October 13, 2003

The Irish are on fire.

This weekend saw the No. 15 Irish sweep two Big East foes en route to winning their sixth and seventh straight games.

Friday’s victim was Seton Hall. The Pirates came into the Joyce Center with a 14-6 overall and 0-3 conference record. However, they were no match for the red-hot Irish.

Notre Dame hit a scorching .436 en route to the three-game victory (30-22, 30-14, 30-25).

Sunday was much more of the same for the Big East leading Irish. Rutgers (8-11, 2-3) never led in three games as the Irish dominated (30-13, 30-18, 30-22).

“We’ve had great practices all week, and I really think it’s paying off for us,” head coach Debbie Brown said. “Overall I think were playing really well.”

The Irish have been excellent of late, remaining undefeated in the Big East with a 6-0 start. Against Rutgers, the Irish hit .352 on the match, compared to the Scarlet Knights’ meager .028 hitting percentage.

Notre Dame’s hot hitting of late can be attributed to the switch to a 5-1 rotation. With Kristen Kinder as the Irish’s only setter, hitters do not have to adjust to having two setters. Kinder had 39 assists in Sunday’s match.

Meanwhile, sophomore Lauren Brewster has been unstoppable. Sunday, she hit .560 with 16 kills and only two errors. Last week, she was named co-Big East Player of the Week, and Friday she had 13 kills with no errors, good for a .684 hitting percentage.

“Lauren has been unbelievable,” Brown said. “I watch other teams, and they have no idea how to stop her.”

Brewster is not the only Irish hitter to get hot of late, as all the middle blockers have stepped up. Lauren Kelbley nailed 10 kills Sunday to go along with her .474 hitting percentage.

Blocking has also been another strength of the Irish as they rejected the Scarlet Knights 15 times at the net, while getting stuffed only two times. This has been the trend of late for the Irish front row.

“We work a lot on blocking,” Brown said. “[Assistant coach] Robin [Davis] does almost all of the blocking coaching, and he’s really good.”

However, despite the outstanding coaching, Brown also credits her athletes for their blocking prowess.

“We have players that have the physical ability to be high above the net, and our blockers have gotten better and better – they’re smarter,” Brown said.

Even though the Irish kept rolling this weekend, they are looking forward to the week off.

“Right now is the perfect time for us to have a break, especially because of the academics,” Brown said. “Academically, the week before fall break is really tough.”

So, as the Irish take a study break and a few days off, they hope that the momentum continues in their favor, as they are just having fun playing volleyball, and that is when they play their best.”

“I think that we worked really hard at being consistent and playing at a higher level,” Brown said.

Next week, Brown and her team will travel to North Carolina where the Tar Heels will try to cool down the Irish.