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Irish fall to Northern Iowa 3-2

Anne Loughery | Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Northern Iowa proved the best offense is a solid defense as it defeated Notre Dame 3-2 Tuesday night.

The Irish anticipated a tough match heading into the competition, and the Panthers didn’t disappoint. Northern Iowa’s defense held the team to a .180 average on hitting and forced an average of nearly eight errors per game.

“We played with a lot of heart and fought hard, but it wasn’t the best match in terms of execution,” Irish coach Debbie Brown said.

Junior Lauren Brewster was among the players leading the Irish effort, tallying 27 kills and hitting .273. Brewster, who received her sixth career Big East Player of the Week award last week, also totaled eight blocks.

Senior Emily Loomis and freshman Adrianna Stasiuk followed up with 15 kills apiece and .204 and .146 on hitting respectively. Junior Carolyn Cooper also registered seven blocks to add to the Irish effort.

Northern Iowa’s win in the first game did not come easily, as Notre Dame trailed the Panthers by no more than four points at any given point in the game. Brewster and Loomis led the team in kills with four each and recorded .500 and .375 hitting percentages respectively. Brewster also contributed five blocks, one of which was a solo block.

The Irish sustained brief runs throughout the game, but had trouble in extending their advantage. Northern Iowa capitalized on their shortcoming, pulling ahead to 25-21 towards the end of the game. Notre Dame rallied to put the team within one point of its opponent in the final plays of the game, but Northern Iowa’s Rachael Tink had a kill for a 30-28 victory.

Although the second game was equally close, the Irish seemed to be running on all cylinders, winning the game 30-28. Notre Dame’s defense bested its efforts in the first game, holding Northern Iowa to .157 on hitting and forcing nine Panther errors. Junior captain Meg Henican scooped for six digs and sophomore Danielle Herndon recorded five to lead the Irish floor defense.

Brewster had nine kills on .429 hitting, while freshman Ashley Tarutis and Stasiuk added to the Irish offensive effort with an ace each.

Notre Dame extended its lead in the third game for a 2-1 advantage over Northern Iowa. The third game featured 11 ties – the most of the matchup – and four lead changes in one of the most contested games Tuesday night. The Panthers didn’t establish a sizeable lead until midway through the match 16-13, before Notre Dame ended the set victorious over Northern Iowa 31-29.

Northern Iowa controlled the tempo of the fourth match and the team’s defense limited the Irish to .082 on hitting and just 11 kills. Stasiuk led the Irish in kills with four and .300 on hitting, while defensively, Henican chipped in seven digs and Cooper logged two blocks. Northern Iowa led by as many as nine points in the fourth game, finishing with an eight- point win 30-22 to force a fifth game.

A revived Irish team took the courts for the fifth game, but the team wasn’t able to sustain a sizeable run. Northern Iowa claimed the win in the fifth game 15-13.

Despite Tuesday night’s heartbreaking loss, the Irish are taking the disappointment in stride and look forward to this weekend’s Big East Championship.

“This [match] was the best practice we could ever have for the Big East this weekend,” Brown said. “We couldn’t have orchestrated a better practice than that. Northern Iowa pushed us in all areas.”