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ND VOLLEYBALL: No. 10 Notre Dame chalks up wins over Connecticut, St. John’s

Tom Dorwart | Monday, October 10, 2005

Their streak has reached seven.

After weekend victories over St. John’s (15-6, 1-3 Big East) and Connecticut (9-8, 2-3 Big East), the No. 10 Irish improved to 14-1 overall and 5-0 in the Big East.

Notre Dame’s hitting percentage skyrocketed in the Sunday Connecticut match. The Irish hit .355 as a team en route to a 30-20, 30-23, 30-23 sweep of the Huskies.

Sophomore setter Ashley Tarutis led the offense with 42 set assists. Tarutis’ counterpart, fellow sophomore outside hitter/libero Adrianna Stasiuk, netted a double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs. Senior All-American Lauren Brewster added 16 kills.

The Irish were also strong on defense, allowing only one service ace. Senior outside hitter/libero Meg Henican received 26 serves perfectly.

Eventually, the match turned into a good opportunity for coach Debbie Brown to get the youngsters some playing time. All 13 players on the roster played for only the second time this season.

Saturday, the Irish struggled at first with the Red Storm but rallied for the 28-30, 30-26, 30-28, 30-27 win. Heading into the match with the mysterious Red Storm, Brown knew little about her opponent.

“They haven’t played a real strong schedule, so they have played well against some teams, but it makes it a little bit difficult [to read],” she said last week. “We just can’t get as good of a read on them just because of the schedule they’ve played.”

Perhaps that was one reason for the tight match, which featured 27 ties and 13 total lead changes.

With 55 set assists, Tarutis orchestrated the explosive Notre Dame offense to 66 kills.

Brewster led the way again with 17, hitting at a .389 percentage. Stasiuk matched her career-high with 16 kills.

Senior Lauren Kelbley and Carolyn Cooper pounded 13 and 11, respectively.

Adding to the already high-powered offensive battle, Henican served up three aces. The Irish had eight service aces and just seven errors. This season, their ace-to-error ratio of .826 ranks as the second best ever by a Notre Dame team.

The Irish, along with No. 6 Louisville, are one of the two unbeatens in Big East play.

After playing 10 of 12 matches on the road, the Irish will be home this week for practice before traveling to DePaul this Saturday. Though the Irish have won seven consecutive matches, the Irish welcome the time this week to improve their game even more.

“We really want to work on being more consistent,” Brown said.

As the Irish have played fairly consistently on the road, she is patient and, at the same time, excited to finally play at home.

“We’ll get our chance to be home,” Brown said, referring to her team’s lack of recent home games.

“I don’t think it’s [being on the road] too big of a negative factor.”