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BIG EAST Leading Women's Volleyball Battles USPV Squad Sunday

Oct. 12, 1999

Irish Are The Last Of The Unbeatens in the BIG EAST
For the second straight weekend, the Notre Dame volleyball team limited their BIG EAST opponents to single digits, defeating Rutgers and Seton Hall both in three games. With the wins, the Irish improved to 4-0 overall and are in sole possession of first place.

Leffers Earns BIG EAST Honors For The Third Time
For the third time in six chances, Irish senior Mary Leffers has been named BIG EAST Co-Player of the Week for her strong performances in Notre Dame’s three matches last week. Leffers, who received the same honor September 6 and October 4, shares the award this week with Connecticut’s Chanice Harris.

Leffers helped the Irish to victories over BIG EAST Conference foes Rutgers and Seton Hall and had a strong performance in the team’s loss to 23rd-ranked Michigan. The middle blocker led the Irish in blocks all three matches (1.90 per game), while averaging 3.90 kills per game on .471 hitting. She also had a notable match against Rutgers, recording 14 kills with no errors for a career-high .737 hitting percentage (14-0-19).

In four BIG EAST matches this season, Leffers stats include 4.33 kills per game (team-best), on .553 hitting and a 2.00 blocks per game average (team-best).

Wolverines Sneak Past Irish
Sarah Behnke’s 19 kills led the 23rd-ranked Michigan volleyball team to a 15-11, 8-15, 15-10, 15-10 win over Notre Dame in a non-league match Tuesday night at the Joyce Center.

Notre Dame, despite the loss, received notable efforts from a number of people, including junior setter Denise Boylan (52 assists, 10 digs), sophomore opposite Kristy Kreher (16 kills, 11 digs) and junior outside hitter Christi Girton (17 kills, 12 digs), who all contributed double-doubles in the four-game match. Kreher also recorded a career-high seven blocks, sophomore Marcie Bomhack had 12 digs and senior Mary Leffers added 15 kills and eight blocks.

Leffers Leads The Way
After a week at the number four slot, senior Mary Leffers was back at number two nationally in blocks per game with a 1.91 average in last week’s NCAA statistics (through matches of October 3).

Notre Dame as a team vaulted from 19th overall two weeks ago to 12th in team blocks per game with a 3.21 blocks per game average.

Notre Dame Tops District Rankings
The Irish are not only atop the BIG EAST rankings, but they are also ranked first in the NCAA district rankings released on October 6. Other BIG EAST teams listed in the top 10 of the bi-weekly rankings include Connecticut (4th), Rutgers (7th) and Georgetown (8th).

The USPV, What Is It?
The Irish will play just one match this week before playing four the following week. The one match this week will be an exhibition Sunday, Oct. 17 at 2 p.m. against the United States Pro Volleyball (USPV) “Dream Team.”

The USPV “Dream Team” includes 19 former college players, among them Notre Dame products Molly Stark (1990-93) and Jaimie Lee (1994-97).

The USPV will play an exhibition schedule against college and international teams from June 1999 – August 2000, with the hope of eventually starting a premier women’s league based in the Midwest in January 2001.

Scouting the Dream Team
So far in its inaugural season, the Dream Team has played 20 matches against various collegiate teams around the Midwest in addition to the national teams from Canada and the Dominican Republic. The USPV has won 15 of those matches, including all 14 against college squads.

In addition to former Notre Dame standouts Jaimie Lee and Molly Stark, the USPV roster includes former college All-Americans Lindsay Anderson (Penn State), Addie Hauschild (Pacific) and Sarah Silvernail (Washington State).

The Dream Team is coached by Arie Selinger, who guided the 1984 USA Women’s National Team to a silver medal at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Calif.

Lee, Stark Return to the Joyce
Former Notre Dame standouts Jaimie Lee and Molly Stark make their return to the Joyce Center as members of the USPV Dream Team.

Lee, a 1998 graduate, is one of the most decorated players in Irish volleyball history. Her many awards include: Academic All-American, Volleyball Magazine honorable mention All-American, BIG EAST Player of the Year (1996, 1997), BIG EAST Tournament MVP (1997), three-time all-district and all-BIG EAST performer, Byron V. Kanaley award-winner and team MVP (1996, 1997).

After graduation, Lee played professional volleyball with former Irish teammate Angie Harris (1994-97) in Switzerland during the spring of 1999 for Franches-Montagnes (based in Saignelgier) of the L.N.A league.

Stark, meanwhile, was a four-year monogram winner from 1990-93. As a middle blocker, Stark played in over 400 games and still remains in the Notre Dame career top 10 in ace average (.224), solo blocks (60), total blocks (350) and block average (0.87). The Scottsdale, Ariz., native was one of three Irish players named first-team all-Midwestern Collegiate Conference in 1993.

Prior to joining the team, Stark played professional volleyball in Europe. She played in Lyon, France for four years and in Charleroi, Belgium for one year before returning to the United States to play for the USPV.

Up Next:
The Irish have four matches scheduled for next week. Monday, the team travels to Utah for the first time to prepare for Tuesday night’s match against eighth-ranked Brigham Young. The team will then move Wednesday to Utah for a match against the Utes before heading home for two BIG EAST matches against St. John’s (Saturday) and Connecticut (Sunday).

Season Notes

Notre Dame head coach Debbie Brown is tentatively slated to be on the SportsCentral (WHME-TV 46) show with host Bob Nagle on October 26 and November 9. SportsCentral, which airs Saturdays at 6:30 p.m., is a weekly television show produced by LeSea Broadcasting that keeps fans updated on the progress of all Notre Dame intercollegiate athletic teams. Game footage and interviews with players and coaches are all a part of the half-hour weekly segment that recaps the week’s results and previews upcoming contests.

NCAA Bids Keep Rolling
After qualifying for its seventh straight trip to the NCAAs in 1998, the Notre Dame volleyball program currently has the second-longest active streak of NCAA appearances of any Irish athletic team. The Irish have advanced to the Elite Eight once (1993) and the round of 16 three times (1994, 1995, 1997). Notre Dame has suffered only one first round loss (1992) during that streak. The only other Notre Dame team to have more is men’s tennis, which has earned eight consecutive bids from (1991-99)

Boylan, Girton Honored
The BIG EAST also released the coaches’ selections for the six-member preseason all-conference squad. Notre Dame is represented by junior setter Denise Boylan (Lisle, Ill.), last year’s preseason player of the year, and junior outside hitter Christi Girton (Muncie, Ind.), who made the 1998 all-BIG EAST second team. For other team members, please consult the bar on page three.

Game Change
The Notre Dame-Illinois State match is listed incorrectly on the team’s 1999 schedule card. The match will take place at 7 p.m. on November 3 at the Joyce Center.

Opponents will find something a bit different this year when they visit the Joyce Center at Notre Dame. Starting this fall, the Irish will be playing on a SPORT COURT, a synthetic playing surface, used at the NCAA championships and by the U.S. national teams.

Head Coach Debbie Brown
Notre Dame head coach Debbie Brown is in her ninth season at Notre Dame and her 15th overall. Brown has compiled a mark of 218-75 with the Irish and has a career record of 335-158, which includes six years at the helm of her alma mater, Arizona State. In recognition of Brown’s contribution to the University, Notre Dame’s National Monogram Club bestowed upon her an honorary monogram at the annual Monogram Club awards dinner in June 1999. She joins an elite group of six current Irish coaches to have been awarded an honorary monogram.

Notre Dame Third In Student-Athlete Graduation Rates
The University of Notre Dame has been ranked third in overall student-athlete graduation rates among the nation’s Division I-A colleges and universities, according to the latest annual report compiled by the NCAA.

The Sporting News Ranks Notre Dame Third In Survey Of Top Athletic Programs
The Notre Dame athletic program has been ranked third in a major survey by The Sporting News of 112 U.S. colleges who participate in NCAA Division I sports in both football and men’s basketball. Notre Dame finished behind only Penn State and North Carolina in the survey, which graded the departments on various standards ranging from on-field to academic performance.

AVCA/USA Today Top 25 Poll October 12, 1999

Rk School ('99 record)   Points (1st) 1.  Penn State (16-1)    1,478 (41) 2.  Hawai'i (15-0)       1,457 (19)  3. Pacific (15-1)        1,372  4. Florida (15-2)        1,294  5. LBSU (13-2)           1,276 6. UCLA (14-1)           1,204 7. Stanford (12-2)       1,067 8. BYU (12-2)            1,026 9. UCSB (13-3)             97510. Texas (11-3)            91411. Pepperdine (12-2)       90712. Nebraska (12-4)         85113. Kansas State (12-2)     84914. Colorado State (16-0)   76215. Clemson (16-1)          59616. Texas A&M (13-3)        55417. USC (9-4)               51518. Arizona (11-4)          48819. Northern Iowa (18-0)    32420. Colorado (10-5)         32321. Arkansas (14-4)         24622. Minnesota (15-3)        21523. Illinois (9-3)          17324. Wisconsin (11-5)        16625. San Diego (12-3)        163

Others receiving 30 or more points:
North Carolina, Loyola Marymount, San Jose State, Michigan

Probable Notre Dame Starters
Denise Boylan, Jr. 6-1 (Lisle, Ill.)

Outside Hitters
Marcie Bomhack, So., 6-0 (Waukesha, Wis.)
Christi Girton, Jr., 6-3 (Muncie, Ind.)

Kristy Kreher, So., 6-1 (Birmingham, Mich.)

Middle Blockers
Mary Leffers, Sr., 6-4 (Tampa, Fla.)
Malinda Goralski, So., 6-1 (Missouri City, Texas)

Defensive Specialists
Janie Alderete, Fr., 5-4 (Santa Clara, Calif.)
Keara Coughlin, Fr., 5-7 (Chicago, Ill.)

Volleyball Magazine Poll October 11, 1999

R School               1999 Record 1. Penn State            16-1 2. Hawai'i               15-0 3. Pacific               15-1 4. Florida               15-2 5. UCLA                  14-1 6. Long Beach State      13-2 7. Stanford              12-2 8. Colorado State        16-0 9. Kansas State          12-210. Nebraska              12-411. UC Santa Barbara      13-312. Texas                 11-313. Brigham Young         12-214. Pepperdine            12-215. Arizona               11-416. Clemson               16-117. Texas A&M             13-318. USC                   9-419. Northern Iowa         18-020. Cal Poly              12-4

1999 NCAA District Rankings (10/6)

Rank  Team          Record    1.   NOTRE DAME     8-3    2.   Rhode Island   9-3    3.   Temple         8-4    4.   Xavier         12-4    5.   Connecticut    10-4    6.   Massachusetts  8-6    7.   Rutgers        9-8    8.   Georgetown     15-3    9.   Virginia Tech  5-9   10.   Princeton      11-2

Current BIG EAST Standings

Standings        Overall  BE 1. NOTRE DAME     10-4   4-0    2. Georgetown     18-3   3-1 3. Connecticut    13-4   3-1 4. Rutgers        10-10  3-1 5. St. John's     12-8   2-2 6. Syracuse       12-9   2-2 7. Providence     7-9    2-2 8. Boston College 7-11   2-2 9. Seton Hall     10-8   1-310. Pittsburgh     7-7    1-3   11. West Virginia  9-12   1-312. Villanova      8-10   0-4

BIG EAST Players of the Week 9/6 – Mary Leffers, Notre Dame
Yulia Vyturina, Georgetown
9/13 – Melissa Alpers, Pittsburgh
9/20 – Kiran Gill, Georgetown
Olga Roudavski, St. John’s
9/27 – Breen Eddinger, Villanova
Dana Fiume, Syracuse
10/4 – Mary Leffers, Notre Dame
Lola Opadiran, Rutgers
10/11 – Mary Leffers, Notre Dame
Chanice Harris, Connecticut

BIG EAST Rookies of the Week

9/6 – Melissa Wooley, Connecticut
9/13 – Lauren Warner, Georgetown
9/20 – Lauren Warner, Georgetown
9/27 – Erin Birunas, Villanova
10/4 – Lauren Warner, Georgetown
10/11 – Carrie Norris, Pittsburgh