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ND VOLLEYBALL: Irish attack too much for Valpo

Tom Dorwart | Thursday, October 6, 2005

Irish coach Debbie Brown keeps stressing her players need to be more consistent. They fall behind in matches when they shouldn’t, and they have rough spurts when they know they should be in the lead, she says.

The No. 10 Irish are doing one thing well, however – winning.

Notre Dame defeated the Valparaiso Crusaders 34-32, 30-21, 30-26 Wednesday night at the Joyce Center before 1,181 fans.

The Irish improved to 12-1, while the Crusaders fell to 14-4. The loss for Valparaiso was its first this season against a Big East Conference opponent. It had previously beaten DePaul and Villanova.

In practices leading up to the non-conference match, Brown had made sure her players would not take Valparaiso lightly. Last season, the Crusaders beat the Irish in a five-game, regular season match before the Irish won their second meeting in a four-game tilt in the NCAA tournament.

Despite Wednesday night’s sweep, Brown wasn’t too happy.

“We’re not really pleased with how we played,” she said. “We were just inconsistent. We had some bad spurts in both games one and three.”

The Irish trailed for parts of the first and third games, but they rallied for the victories. The score was tied at 11 separate points during the match.

“We had good composure and came back and tied the game and had some big plays when we needed,” Brown said.

While the games were much closer than the Irish would have liked, they were thankful to pull out the win against a scrappy Crusader squad.

“I think both offensively and defensively, [Valparaiso’s starters] did a good job of balancing their offense,” Brown said. “They didn’t hit for as high of a percentage as what their season average is, but their starters did a good job of mixing it up and keeping us off balance a little bit.”

Eventually, though, the Notre Dame offense took over.

Senior All-Big East pick Lauren Kelbley spiked 13 kills for the Irish. Sophomore Adrianna Stasiuk continued her string of strong offensive performances as well with 13 kills. Big East pre-season player of the year Lauren Brewster added 11.

“I think we served pretty well, so we got them a little bit out of [their] system at times, and that definitely helped us,” Brown said.

After a difficult opening game, the Irish defense was nearly impassable.

Four Irish players racked up double-digit digs. Sophomore setter Ashley Tarutis had 16. Junior defensive specialist/libero Danielle Herndon nabbed 10. Senior co-captain Meg Henican had a team-high 19, and Stasiuk registered 12.

Notre Dame also had 23 total blocks – nine solo and 14 assisted. Big East leader senior Carolyn Cooper had six, while Brewster and Kelbley added seven and five, respectively. Henican also led the team with a perfect 1.000 hitting percentage.