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Consistency finally materializes

Anne Loughery | Monday, October 11, 2004

Following each loss, the Irish (8-5) posed different versions of the same question – what happened?When evaluating their performance at practice, the Irish would find weaknesses in both their offense and defense. But when it came down to it, Notre Dame’s primary weakness was consistency.This weekend the Irish seem to have remedied that problem, upending Rutgers 30-23, 30-22, 30-24 on Saturday and Seton Hall 20-24, 30-27, 26-30, 30-23 on Sunday. The statistics from Saturday’s Rutgers (11-5) game are telling. Junior Lauren Brewster had 13 kills with .500 on hitting, while junior Lauren Kelbley contributed 12 kills with a .474 attack percentage. In each game, the Irish recorded 16 or more kills on hitting with a .270 or better hitting percentage – talk about consistency. “That’s been one of our goals all season – being consistent with our offense and having a high hitting percentage,” Brewster said. “We’re just trying to prove ourselves week by week.”The Irish dominated statistically across the board, with freshman Ashley Tarutis and junior Kelly Burrell posting 27 and 18 assists respectively. Senior Emily Loomis and freshman Adrianna Stasiuk chipped in nine kills each and junior Carolyn Cooper had five kills and .333 on hitting. On the defensive end, the Irish limited Rutgers to under .100 hitting in every game. Rutgers couldn’t collect more than 13 kills a game and committed 27 errors overall. This, in part, was due to a collective Irish effort culminating in nine blocks. Junior Meg Henican led the team in digs, with ten, while Stasiuk and Corbett registered nine and six respectfully. The Irish retained the lead throughout the first game. After Rutgers inched closer to a victory, Notre Dame answered with a 7-2 scoring run to finish the match. Rutgers made the second game more competitive, claiming three of the first five points of the game. The Irish rebounded to take a 15-8 lead to secure the win. Rutgers’ fate was sealed as the Irish continued to maintain control of the game, only allowing their opponents to get within one point 11-10. The Irish thrived on the momentum they gained from the Rutgers match, defeating Seton Hall (6-14) in four sets. Henican’s 37-dig effort broke a 12-year-old school record during Sunday’s match, while Kelbley excelled offensively with 25 kills. Kelbley’s contributions made her the first Irish player in almost four years to garner 25 kills in a match. “Meg did an amazing job against Seton Hall,” Brewster said. “That’s why we have her at libero-because she’s so amazing in the back row. She can see where the hitters are going to place the ball and she adjusts for that.”Stasiuk continued to impress her coaches and teammates defensively, notching 14 digs. Setters Tarutis and Burrell also shined, leading the Irish to 17 or more kills per game and a .340 hitting percentage. Tarutis recorded 46 assists and Burrell registered 16. Cooper led the team in blocks, having a hand in five of the team’s 11 blocks, while Brewster recorded four block assists. Seton Hall threatened Notre Dame’s win in the first game, leading 24-23 before the Irish claimed seven of the next points to complete the game. In the third game, Seton Hall collected their first victory against Notre Dame in the 29 games they had played over 10 matches. The game included 13 ties, but after the Irish tied the score at 24-24, Seton Hall claimed the lead again and never looked back. Although the fourth game looked to be equally challenging for both teams, the Irish maintained their lead after pulling ahead 5-4. Notre Dame continued to widen their margin of victory until they finished off Seton Hall with a seven point lead. The Irish take the courts again, facing Illinois State on Wednesday at the Joyce Center.