Nov. 19, 2009
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Debbie Brown was named the BIG EAST Conference Volleyball Coach of the Year, announced Thursday evening during the league tournament banquet at the Louisville Hyatt Regency. In addition, four Irish players earned all-BIG EAST citations.
Brown’s honor was her 10th overall and sixth since Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST in 1995. She last won the award in 2005. This season, Brown guided the top-seeded Irish into the BIG EAST Championship after finishing the regular season with a perfect 14-0 league record. Furthermore, No. 23 Notre Dame has won 16 of its last 18 matches while boasting an overall record of 20-4. Notre Dame was also crowned the BIG EAST regular season champion.
“This was truly a team award, and I was happy to accept it on behalf of our entire coaching staff, players and support staff,” Brown said. “Without all of them, we would not be in this position. All the credit goes to everyone who has contributed to the program’s success this season.”
A trio of Irish seniors – Christina Kaelin, Serinity Phillips and Jamel Nicholas – earned first team all-BIG EAST honors while junior middle blocker Kellie Sciacca was named to the second team. Notre Dame’s last first-team selections came in 2006 (Mallorie Croal, Adrianna Stasiuk and Lauren Brewster). Sciacca, Kaelin and Phillips were each second-team choices in 2008.
Kaelin finished in a tie for sixth in league play with 3.65 kills/set including 11 double-figure kill outputs. The All-American averaged 3.92 points/set with a .268 hitting percentage, and pounded Cincinnati for 20 kills on Oct. 10.
Nicholas ranked 21st nationally with 11.21 assists/set and steered the Irish to the league’s overall kills title (14.32). Notre Dame ranked second in assists (13.12) and hitting percentage (.263).
The dynamic Phillips did it all for Notre Dame during the conference slate and finished seventh with 4.49 points/set. She posted at least 16 kills in five league matches and accounted for 3.56 kills/set, 1.94 digs/set and 1.27 blocks/set.
Leading the BIG EAST in individual hitting percentage was Sciacca (.429). Along with Kaelin, Sciacca was a preseason all-BIG EAST honoree. She also averaged 1.21 blocks/set in league play, and a season-high seven of her 52.0 conference blocks came against Cincinnati.
Notre Dame opens the BIG EAST Championship with a match against eighth-seeded Seton Hall on Friday (Nov. 20) at 3:30 p.m. (ET). The event will be held at the Kentucky International Convention Center.
BIG EAST Player of the YearMeagan Dooley, Pittsburgh, Sr., MH
BIG EAST Libero of the YearMichelle Rossi, Pittsburgh, Sr., L
BIG EAST Freshman of the YearLola Arslanbekova, Louisville, Fr., OH
BIG EAST Coach of the YearDebbie Brown, Notre Dame
All-BIG EAST First TeamAlli Arbogast, USF, Sr., MBLola Arslanbekova, Louisville, Fr., OHLecia Brown, Louisville, Sr., MB*Meagan Dooley, Pittsburgh, Sr., MHAnnie Fesl, Cincinnati, Jr., S*Marcela Gurgel, USF, Sr., OHChristina Kaelin, Notre Dame, Sr., OHSarah Morton, Syracuse, Sr., MBJamel Nicholas, Notre Dame, Sr., S*Stephanie Niemer, Cincinnati, Jr., OHSerinity Philips, Notre Dame, Sr., OHMichelle Rossi, Pittsburgh, Sr., L
All-BIG EAST Second TeamAshley Beyer, Marquette, So., OHAllie Boaz, USF, Jr., RSVanessa Dorismond, Georgetown, Jr., MBLauren Evans, West Virginia, Jr., MBMissy Harpenau, Cincinnati, So., OHNikki Klingsporn, Marquette, Jr., SKim Maroon, Villanova, So., LAllie Matters, Seton Hall, Jr., OHMaggie Mergen, Villanova, So., MBRebecca Murray, Connecticut, Jr., MHKellie Sciacca, Notre Dame, Jr., MBAmy Town, Pittsburgh, Jr., OH
* - unanimous selection