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Irish top ISU in 5 games

Ann Loughery | Thursday, October 14, 2004

True, Notre Dame defeated Illinois State (12-5) on Wednesday.But ask junior captain Meg Henican if the team is satisfied with the season, and she’ll describe an antsy Irish team.”We can be great,” Henican said. “It’s so fun to watch my teammates play and see what they can do and how good they are. I think we’re yet to play to our potential.”The team showed glimpses of its potential as it bested Illinois State in five games 30-25, 34-32, 25-30, 23-30, 15-10.The Irish continue to excel statistically, with Lauren Kelbley chipping in an impressive team-high 20 kills, averaging .283 on hitting and collecting four aces. Freshman Ashley Tarutis matched her season-high record for assists with 51, while leading the team in digs with 17. Junior Lauren Brewster, senior Emily Loomis and freshman Adrianna Stasiuk also contributed to the Irish defensive effort with 11 blocks each. In nearly every game, the Irish held the Redbirds to under .200 hitting and upped their opponents’ errors to at least six every game. While this game didn’t showcase the Irish in their prime, Henican said the Irish fulfilled their expectations for the matchup.”We knew Illinois State was a good team, a tough one,” Henican said. “We didn’t execute as we had hoped, but we came out with a win so we’re happy with that.”In the first game, Notre Dame kept Illinois State at arms length. The Irish defended every inch of the court, swooping in for digs and diving to save the ball and preserve their lead.Kelbley and Stasiuk, who was recently named the Big East Rookie of the Week, spearheaded the Irish offensive effort with six kills each. Stasiuk recorded .556 and Kelbley posted a .364 in hitting. Notre Dame maintained a five-point lead in the last two serves of the game, beating Illinois State 30-25.The second game featured 25 ties and 11 lead changes in the most fiercely contested game of the match. Both teams maintained the stalemate throughout most of the game, matching each other point for point. Illinois State held the biggest advantage at 22-19, but Notre Dame rallied to even the score at 22-22 after a three-point run. Ultimately, the Irish pulled ahead for good, overcoming the Redbird defense 34-32. “We were both fighting for each point,” Henican said. “Illinois State is solid all-around. They didn’t really let us get runs with point scoring.”Illinois State notched its first victory of the night in the third game, 30-25. The Redbirds took advantage of a lull in the Irish offense, stepping up their efforts to collect 17 kills and .180 on hitting. Defensively, they limited their counterparts to 13 kills on .130 hitting. Thriving on the momentum from its win, Illinois State claimed the fourth game 30-23. The Redbirds improved their hitting, registering 17 kills and a .205 hitting percentage. But Notre Dame bounced back in an impressive display of its staying power, finishing off Illinois State 15-10. After the Irish built a four-point advantage at 14-10, Brewster secured the win with a kill.