Setter Jamel Nicholas eclipsed the 1,000 career assist mark during last weeks Idaho Volleyball Classic.

Fighting Irish To Face Stacked Field At Diet Coke Classic

Sept. 11, 2008

Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the first time this season the Notre Dame volleyball team will face a ranked opponent – including two more top-20 teams for good measure – when the Irish travel to Minnesota’s Diet Coke Classic Sept. 12-14. Notre Dame started the season with a pair of wins at the Shamrock Invitational and went 1-2 during last week’s Idaho Volleyball Classic.

Notre Dame dropped the 2007 season opener to Minnesota and later stumbled against California in a five-set thriller. The Irish leaped ahead of California, 2-0, before the Golden Bears staged a three-set comeback for the win at Santa Clara’s Bronco Classic. The Irish won each of their two previous meetings versus Cal Poly, with those victories posted in the 2002 and 2004 seasons.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(3-3 overall / 0-0 BIG EAST)

No. 16 Cal Poly Mustangs
(4-2 overall / 0-0 Big West)
Sept. 12 – 5:00 p.m. (CT)
Live Stats:

No. 4 California Golden Bears
(5-0 overall / 0-0 Pacific-10)
Sept. 13 – 5:00 p.m. (CT)
Live Stats:

No. 11 Minnesota Golden Gophers
(5-1 overall / 0-0 Big Ten)
Sept. 14 – 2:30 p.m. (CT)
TV: Big Ten Network
Live Stats:

Diet Coke Classic
Sports Pavilion – Sept. 12-14
University of Minnesota – Minneapolis, Minn.

Sept. 12 – 5:00 p.m.
Cal Poly vs. Notre Dame
Sept. 12 – 7:30 p.m.
California vs. Minnesota

Sept. 13 – 5:00 p.m.
California vs. Notre Dame
Sept. 13 – 7:30 p.m.
Cal Poly vs. Minnesota

Sept. 14 – 12:00 p.m.
Cal Poly vs. California
Sept. 14 – 2:30 p.m.
Minnesota vs. Notre Dame

*all times local to site (Central)

Bump, Set, Spike …
– Notre Dame dropped two of three contests at the Idaho Volleyball Classic (Sept. 5-6) … a 3-0 sweep over Washington State was offset by losses to Eastern Washington and host Idaho … junior Christina Kaelin had 20 kills on a .286 average in the opening-round match versus Eastern Washington (Sept. 5) … for Kaelin, it was the sixth time in her career she has recorded at least 20 kills in a match, doing so through only 36 matches played in two seasons … the feat moves her into a four-way tie for 10th place on the school’s all-time list for 20+ kill matches… freshman Frenchy Silva has continued her steady defensive efforts for the Irish and has now registered at least 10 digs in each of Notre Dame’s six matches this season … she leads the team with a 4.19 digs/set average.

– The Irish will face a trio of ranked opponents this weekend at the Diet Coke Classic … the last time Notre Dame challenged ranked foes in there consecutive matches was in 2001 when they went to battle with No. 7 UCLA, No. 1 Nebraska and No. 15 Pepperdine at the U.S. Bank / Arby’s Tournament in Lincoln, Neb. … Notre Dame dropped each of the three matches.

– The last time Notre Dame beat a ranked opponent was Nov. 11, 2007 … this came in the form of a 3-1 win over No. 17 Louisville … the last win over a top-10 opponent was a 3-2 win against No. 7 Louisville (Nov. 20, 2005) in the BIG EAST Championship match … the highest-ranked opponent Notre Dame defeated in 29 seasons of action is No. 3 Nebraska (Sept. 25, 1993).

Series Notes …
– The Golden Gophers have won the last three decisions in the six-match history of this series … Minnesota knocked the No. 17 Irish out of the NCAA Tournament with a 3-2 first-round win at Minneapolis in 1993 … Notre Dame took the first meeting between the two squads, a 3-1 win at home in 1987 … No. 9 Minnesota swept the Irish in Notre Dame’s season opener in 2007, the first season-opening loss ever for Irish head coach Debbie Brown since she took over the program in 1991.

– The Irish and the Bears met last season at Santa Clara’s Bronco Invitational … despite leading 2-0 after the first two games against No. 11 California, Notre Dame could not withstand a late Golden Bear barrage as Cal took the final three games in a 3-2 (23-30, 24-30, 30-28, 30-24, 15-11) Irish loss … Cal took the first match between the two schools in 1985 with a 3-0 win (6-15, 2-15, 6-15) … at the NIVC Tournament in Fairborn, Ohio, Notre Dame tacked on a 3-2 win when the squads squared off again in 1991.

– Two meetings with Cal Poly – both resulting in Irish wins – came during the early stages of the 2002 and 2004 seasons … Notre Dame, then ranked 25th, swept the Mustangs in the Shamrock Invitational … they later swept Cal Poly two years later in San Luis Obispo.

– Middle blockers Kellie Sciacca (Notre Dame) and Ariana Filho (Minnesota) were high school teammates … both played for Lewis-Palmer in Monument, Colo.

Getting to Know the Golden Gophers …
Minnesota moved up to No. 11 in the most recent CSTV/AVCA Top 25 poll … it matches the team’s highest ranking in the top 25 since Oct. 8, 2007 when they were also No. 11 in the nation … the Golden Gophers were 2-1 last week and finished second in the Honolulu Advertiser Challenge … they lost a five-set match to No. 11 Hawaii, but bounced back to defeat Cincinnati and Wyoming in three sets two head back to Minneapolis with a two-match win streak.

Calling On Cal Poly …
Cal Poly is fresh off a date with the nation’s second-ranked program while heading into the Diet Coke Classic … the Mustangs dropped a 3-0 home decision to No. 2 Nebraska last week … outside hitter Kylie Atherstone earned her conference-record 10th Big West Player of the Week honor this past week after averaging 3.78 kills and 1.11 aces/set and hitting .342 as Cal Poly posted a 2-1 mark at its Sept. 5-6 Paso Robles Marriott Invitational last weekend … during the tournament’s opening contest versus Tulane, Atherstone tied a career single-match best with six aces … through six matches Atherstone leads all Big West players with 16 aces … she is also hitting .275.

Breaking Down the Golden Bears …
California kept its flawless record in tact by winning three matches without dropping a set at the Golden Bear Invitational last weekend … Cal has now won 15 consecutive sets on its way to a 5-0 overall record … sophomore setter Carli Lloyd took home tournament MVP and Outstanding Setter honors and junior libero Kristen Kathan was named Defensive Standout for the second time this season.

More Give Than Take …
Junior setter Jamel Nicholas reached noteworthy milestone at the Idaho Volleyball Classic (Sept. 5-6) by surpassing the 1000-assist plateau through just over two season with the Irish … Nicholas’ 1006 helpers ranks 10th on the program’s all-time list … coming out of the tournament in Idaho, Nicholas sat at the No. 10 spot in career assist average (1006 assists in 226 sets for a 4.45/set average) … Nicholas shared time with Ashley Tarutis during her first two seasons with the Fighting Irish and now mentors freshman setter Beth Wildermuth.

Pocket Aces …
Notre Dame served a season-high eight aces against Washington State (Sept. 6) … Serinity Phillips, Jamel Nicholas, Tara Enzweiler and Beth Wildermuth each had two for the Fighting Irish.

On Top of the Summit …
In 29 seasons of varsity volleyball, Notre Dame earned just its first win over a Summit League opponent with a 3-0 sweep of IPFW (Aug. 29) … the league changed its name from the Mid-Continent Conference to Summit in June 2007 … before the season-opening win over the Mastodons the Irish were 26-8 all-time against the conference and 14-3 under head coach Debbie Brown.

It’s Good To Be Home …
Head coach Debbie Brown earned her 200th home win at Notre Dame with a 3-1 win against Nevada (Aug. 30) … the win moved Brown to 200-38 (.843) within the walls of the Joyce Center … last season she picked up her 400th overall win as the Irish skipper.

Give Silva the Shovel …
Freshman libero Frenchy Silva averaged 4.27 digs/set in four matches during the Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 29-31) … that clip ranked fourth in the BIG EAST Conference and the best among league rookies … Silva scooped 21 shots against Valparaiso (Aug. 31), the first 20-dig effort by an Irish player since Adrianna Stasiuk posted an identical total at Connecticut (Oct. 27) in 2007.

Under .100 Is Fine With Us …
An Irish defense that totaled 13.0 team blocks and registered 58 digs in four sets during a win against Nevada (Aug. 30) held the Wolf Pack to an overall hitting average of .080 … the Wolf Pack posted clips of .000, .162, .114 and .036 in the respective frames … Georgetown (Nov. 2, 2007) was the last team to hit under .100 in a match versus the Irish, finishing with a .031 mark.

Brown Honored By Former Team …
Head coach Debbie Brown was honored on Sept. 4 during the University of Southern California’s match versus Oklahoma as part of the program’s All-Time Great Night … Brown, a former Trojan standout, was joined during the ceremony with longtime friend and teammate Sue Woodstra … permanent banners with Woodstra and Brown’s name and numbers are now displayed in the Galen Center … after graduating from El Segundo High School (Calif.), Brown captained the University of Southern California to a 72-1 two-year record and national titles in both 1976 and 1977, including a 38-0 run in 1977 that, until 1998, was the only unbeaten season in Division I women’s volleyball history … her 1977 squad is still considered one of the all-time greatest at any level of volleyball … Brown (then Debbie Landreth) twice was named a collegiate All-American and received the Mikasa Award as the “nation’s best all-around player” in 1976 and 1977 … the 5-8 outside hitter left USC prior to her junior year, accepting an invitation to train full-time with the U.S. national team … she co-captained the team to a fifth-place finish at the 1978 World Championships … a year later, she and her teammates – including Debbie Green, Flo Hyman, Rita Crockett and Woodstra – qualified for the Olympics in Moscow and were considered serious medal contenders before the United States elected to boycott the games.

Early Experience …
Freshmen Kristen Dealy and Frenchy Silva each cracked the starting lineups in their collegiate debut versus IPFW (Aug. 31) … last season, first-year players Kellie Sciacca and Angela Puente started in the season opener … setter Beth Wildermuth also saw significant action on the court in the season’s first weekend of play … Silva and Dealy earned starting nods in each of Notre Dame’s three matches … Dealy led the Irish with 31 kills (2.82 kills/set) while Silva averaged 4.27 digs/set … not to be outdone, Wildermuth split time with starting setter Jamel Nicholas and posted 3.73 assists/set.

Enzweiler Energizes Irish …
Junior middle blocker Tara Enzweiler set career-high marks in virtually every statistical category during the Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 29-31) … Enzweiler logged a pair of starts and matched or exceeded single-match personal bests in kills (5), attempts (13), aces (2), solo blocks (1), block assists (7), total blocks (8) and points (8.5).

Setting Herself Up …
Junior setter Jamel Nicholas averaged 6.91 assists/set during the Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 29-31) but much of her aid to the Irish offensive attack against Valparaiso (Aug. 31) came by means of a career-high seven kills … her previous high of two kills was set versus Butler (Sept. 15) during Nicholas’ freshman campaign.

Kaelin Christens Court …
Junior outside hitter Christina Kaelin returned from an injury that sidelined her for the duration of the 2007 campaign with three starts at the Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 29-31) … her weekend was highlighted by 13 kills for a .480 clips versus Valparaiso (Aug. 31) … Kaelin was one of Notre Dame’s top offensive threats throughout her freshman campaign.

Shamrock Stars …
Junior outside hitter Serinity Phillips and sophomore middle blocker Kellie Sciacca were each named to the Shamrock Invitational All-Tournament squad … Phillips had 13 kills and 12 digs in the season opener against IPFW (Aug. 29) and scooped at least 10 digs in each of the invite’s three matches … Sciacca secured a double-double – the second of her career – against Nevada (Aug. 30) with a 14-kill, 10-block effort.

BIG EAST Honors Sciacca …
Sophomore middle blocker Kellie Sciacca was selected to the league’s weekly honor roll (Sept. 1) … Sciacca totaled 30 kills (2.73/set) on a .359 average through three matches at the Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 29-31) … she led Notre Dame with 20 blocks over the course of three matches (1.82 blocks/set) and also registered one ace … Sciacca had 14 kills on a .464 average against Nevada (Aug. 30) along with 10 blocks for a double-double … she had seven blocks against Valparaiso (Aug. 31) … she finished with nine kills on 18 swings versus IPFW (Aug. 29).