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Irish lose to rival Michigan in 4 sets

Anne Loughery | Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Notre Dame fell to Michigan Tuesday night, losing 30-23, 30-25, 27-30, 32-30, despite a career-high performance in kills by outside hitter Lauren Kelbley.

Kelbley led the Irish effort with 24 kills and .404 hitting, notching just five attack errors on 47 attempts. Junior Kelly Burrell described her teammate as the cornerstone of the offense during Tuesday’s match.

“She really performed at a high level tonight,” Burrell said. “She’s one of our best offensive players, and it was really important that she played well tonight. She was basically the only person getting kills tonight.”

The Irish (5-5) overcame the Wolverines’ (11-2) early lead in the first game, pulling ahead 18-17. Michigan surged back, earning the next five points, but Notre Dame bounced back to put the score at 25-23. Claiming the first set of the game, the Wolverines collected the next five points.

While the second game looked promising at times for the Irish, the Wolverines kept Notre Dame at arm’s length for much of the game. After a 21-14 Michigan lead, the Irish rallied to nearly even the score at 26-25. However, the Wolverines extended their lead, taking the next four points for the win. The Irish recorded a .170 hitting mark as a result of Michigan’s dogged defensive efforts.

“We definitely weren’t playing our best and they bought their game tonight,” Burrell said. “We really needed to execute, and we didn’t.”

Burrell described the third game as a bright spot for the Irish that night.

Although the Wolverines jumped to an early lead, the Irish made a comeback and tied the score at 13-13. The teams matched each other point for point before the Irish pulled ahead 20-17. Michigan was unable to recover its lead and junior Lauren Brewster ended the game with a kill. Brewster finished the match with a .294 attack percentage and 12 kills, recording double figures for the ninth time this season.

The Irish had 19 kills with .405 hitting in the third game.

Neither team held a decisive lead in the fourth game, as both teams continued to match each other point for point. After trailing Notre Dame 28-26, Michigan made a three-point run to get to match point.

Although Kelbley contributed two kills to put the Irish ahead 30-29, a pair of Wolverine service aces and a kill secured the victory for Michigan.

Burrell said the team has already identified areas of improvement from the Michigan match.

“We were making a lot of errors on our side of the court and we had problems finishing games,” Burrell said. “We really needed for everyone to play well at the same time.”

The Irish will take the courts Saturday against Syracuse.