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Sweeping away their opponents

Mike Gilloon | Monday, November 1, 2004

One has to wonder if the Irish have been cleaning up the Joyce Center after home matches this season. Sweeping seems to come pretty naturally to them lately. Notre Dame defeated Georgetown and Villanova in consecutive conference road matches this weekend for its second and third straight three-game victory. The two wins improved Notre Dame’s conference record to 6-0 for the sixth straight season and give the Irish five sweeps in six conference matches so far this year. Irish setters Ashley Tarutis and Kelly Burrell fueled the Irish offensive attack during Friday’s 30-24, 30-23, 30-22 win over the Hoyas. As a team the Irish hit .339 thanks to 53 kills and only 12 attack errors, the lowest mark of the year. Tarutis tallied 31 assists while Burrell tacked on 10 to help Notre Dame to their second-highest hitting percentage of the season, only topped by the .356 mark against St. John’s last week. The first game against Georgetown showed the Irish offense at their statistical best as the team had 19 kills for a .425 attack percentage. Notre Dame continued its strong hitting the entire game as they hit .324 and .271 in the following two games. Outside hitter Lauren Kelbley led the team in kills with 12, middle blocker Emily Loomis had 11 while middle blocker Carolyn Cooper had a career high eight. Cooper was first on the team with an attack percentage of .429. Sunday’s 30-27, 30-24, 30-22 win over Villanova was highlighted this time by the defense as the Irish held the Wildcats to a .007 attack percentage, the lowest mark by an Irish opponent all year. Meg Henican’s play was close to spectacular as the captain recorded 26 digs at her libero position, the second-highest three-game mark in Irish volleyball history. Henican finished out the match on a high note with twelve digs in the final frame, after recording ten in the first game and four in the second. Middle blocker Lauren Brewster, the reigning Big East player of the week, added eight to help give the Irish an average of 20 digs per game, the best average since Notre Dame recorded 26.7 per game against Sacramento State on September 11. Villanova struggled to negative attack percentages in the final two games as the Irish duo of Kelbley and Brewster helped Notre Dame record 13.5 blocks. Brewster, who led the nation in blocking last season and currently ranks second in the Big East, had five blocks in the match, as did Kelbley. The offense was sluggish against a stout Villanova defense as the Irish only hit .115 for the match. However, freshman setter Ashley Tarutis continued to shine as she paced the Irish with twenty six assists. Notre Dame is now tied for first place in the Big East with Pittsburgh. The Irish will take to the Joyce Center court next Friday at 7 p.m. for a match against Connecticut. This will be the first of five consecutive home matches leading up to the Big East championships November 21-22 at Pittsburgh.