Dec. 17, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After having a total of four different players earn any type of All-America honors over the first 23 years of Notre Dame varsity volleyball, a quartet of Irish student-athletes were honorable mention All-America this season, the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) announced Wednesday. Irish senior co-captain S Kristen Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.), junior OPP/MB Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.), and sophomores MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) and MB/OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) each copped the award, becoming the first Notre Dame players to be so distinguished since Denise Boylan in 2000. Notre Dame was the only team in the nation to have four players named honorable mention All-America and one of just four to have a quartet earn national honors.
The AVCA announced three 12-player All-America teams, while also naming the remaining 60 first-team all-region players honorable mention All-Americans for the first time. In addition, it named Hawaii setter Kanoe Kamana’o the National Freshman of the Year, and the organization will announce its National Player of the Year at a banquet on Friday.
Kinder was an all-region honoree for the third consecutive season, gaining honorable mention a year ago after making the first team in 2001. A first-team selection this season, she became just the third player in Irish history to earn all-BIG EAST honors three times. The 2001 BIG EAST Setter of the Year (an award no longer given), Kinder was the starting Irish setter for three seasons and a two-year team co-captain. She helped Notre Dame to a 68-22 (.756) record as its top setter. In the Notre Dame record book, Kinder finished her career ranking third in assists (3,652) and fourth in assist average (10.84).
This season, Kinder averaged 10.17 assists per game after splitting time over the first 10 matches in which Notre Dame employed a two-setter offense. In league matches, she averaged 12.12, the fourth-best mark in the conference, while leading Notre Dame to rank first in hitting percentage (.288) and second in kills (16.26) and assists (14.70). Kinder was third on the Irish in digs (242/2.22) and hitting percentage (.279) and fourth in aces (21/0.19).
After she took over as the full-time setter on Sept. 26, Notre Dame hit .263 with 15.84 kills and 14.41 assists per game after hitting .231 with 15.02 kills and 13.23 assists per game in the first 10 matches. As the sole setter, she set Notre Dame to hitting percentages over .250 in 11 matches, including five marks over .350.
Kinder’s 68 assists against Virginia Tech on Nov. 7 were the most by an Irish player since 2000. She was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week on Nov. 10 and led the Irish with nine double-doubles this season and 27 in her career.
Loomis was an all-region honoree for the second straight season while also earning second-team all-BIG EAST mention this season. She led the Irish in kills (387/3.55) and was second in points (472.5/4.33). On Nov. 29, Loomis became the 13th Irish player to register 1,000 career kills. She set two Notre Dame records this season: consecutive matches with 10+ kills (21) and most kills in a match without an error (24 on Sept. 9 vs. Valparaiso).
She ranked eighth in the conference — and fourth on the Irish — in blocking (119/1.09) and, in BIG EAST matches, was fourth in blocking (1.29), eighth in points (4.75), and 10th in kills (3.76). Loomis was named to the all-tournament teams in the Four Points Sheraton Classic and Longhorn Classic and was the first BIG EAST Player of the Week. She led the Irish in kills 10 times and had 10 or more kills 25 times this season. She hit .400 or better in seven of the first 13 matches of the season.
Loomis is among the Irish career leaders in eight categories: percentage of games played (2nd, .957), block average for non-middle blockers (3rd, 0.91), kill average (5th, 3.24), percentage of matches played (6th, .989), matches with 20+ kills (7th, 6), matches with 10+ kills (7th, 57), kills (1,008, 13th), and block average (13th, 0.91)
Brewster, who was named first-team all-BIG EAST this season after being honorable mention as a freshman, led the nation in blocking (185/1.78) after finishing fourth a season ago. She was the major reason Notre Dame was the top blocking team in Division I this season (406/3.72) following a second-place finish a year ago. The Irish set the school record for season block average for the second straight year in ’03 after the previous mark had stood since 1988.
Individually, Brewster had one of the top blocking campaigns in Irish history. Her block average was the third-best season mark in Notre Dame history, just .01 off the school record. Brewster’s 155 block assists matched the second-highest total in Notre Dame history, just six shy of the record she established in 2002. Her 185 total blocks were the third-best total ever for an Irish player.
In addition to leading the BIG EAST in blocking, Brewster was tops on the Irish and fourth in the league in both hitting percentage (.341) and points (506.5/4.87). In conference play, she posted a .403 attack percentage, by far the best of anyone in the league, to go along with a BIG EAST-best 1.93 block average. Brewster also led Notre Dame in kill average (372/3.58) and was second in service aces (27/0.26). She was honored as the BIG EAST Player of the Week three times in the month of October and was one of just two players to win the award on three occasions this season. Brewster also was the MVP of the Shamrock Invitational.
After not doing it at all a year ago, the Irish sophomore led her team in kills 14 times this season, while being tops in blocks 17 times, hitting percentage 15 times, and points on 16 occasions. She hit over .300 in 19 of 30 contests, including a stretch of seven consecutive matches over .350. Brewster had four or more blocks in all but four matches, and was in on six or more 15 times. She had a career-high 13 blocks twice this season, and has her career high in kills three times, most recently with 22 against Virginia Tech on Nov. 7.
Having completed half of her collegiate career, Brewster already has taken a prominent place in the Irish career record book. Her block average of 1.73 currently ranks as the best all-time, while her .318 hitting percentage is third-highest. She already ranks eighth in total blocks, with 360.
Kelbley was a first-team all-conference selection after being both the league and region rookie of the year in 2002. This season, she was second on the Irish in blocks (133/1.24) and hitting percentage (.303) and third in kills (352/3.29), service aces (25/0.23), and points (455.5/4.25). Kelbley ranked third in the conference in blocking and was fourth in hitting in league play (.340).
She ranks among the top four on four Irish career lists: hitting percentage (2nd, .325), block average (5th, 1.17), percentage of matches played (T-1st, 1.000), and percentage of games played (3rd, .955). Kelbley, a major reason the Irish led the nation in blocking, was named BIG EAST Player of the Week twice this season and was the MVP of the Longhorn Classic. She also earned all-tournament honors in the Four Points Sheraton Classic.
Kelbley led the Irish in blocks 12 times and kills on eight occasions and hit over .300 in 19 matches, including 11 marks over .400. She had 10 or more kills in 13 consecutive matches from Sept. 9-Oct. 23, the fourth-longest streak in school history, and had double-digit kills 23 times overall this season. She had three or more blocks 19 times.
Brewster and Kelbley joined Jessica Fiebelkorn (1992) as the only Irish middle blockers ever to earn All-America mention. Kinder, Boylan, and Jaimie Lee (an outside hitter and setter) are the lone Notre Dame setters to gain the distinction. Christy Peters is the only Irish player ever to earn a spot on one of the All-America teams, gaining third-team honors in 1993 and ’94.
Three other teams — #1 USC, #3 Florida, and #11 Georgia Tech — had four players gain All-America mention. The undefeated Trojans had three on the first team and one on the second team. The Gators had one first-team honoree, two second-teamers and an honorable mention, while the Yellow Jackets had a pair of honorable mentions to go with a first-teamer and a third-teamer. Notre Dame and USC are the only two teams in the nation that will return three All-America honorees for the 2004 season.
Notre Dame faced a total of 15 players that earned some type of All-America honors this season. Six landed spots on the three teams: Pepperdine’s OH Katie Wilkins (first team), Stanford’s OH Ogonna Nnamani (first team) and MB Jennifer Harvey (second team), Arizona’s OH Kim Glass (third team), Pittsburgh’s OH Wendy Hatlestad (third team), and MB Kim Turner of Utah (third team). Nine other Irish foes earned honorable mention: OH Jacqueline Ahlers of St. John’s, S Jill Arganbright of Northern Iowa, OH Bethany Howden of Texas, MB Megan Miller of Pittsburgh, MB Molly O’Brien of Northern Iowa, OH Sonja Percan of Louisville, RS Bing Sun of Louisville, OH Mira Topic of Texas, and OH Lena Ustymenko of Louisville.
Notre Dame finished the season with a 23-7 record, earning a share of its eighth BIG EAST regular-season title in nine seasons in the league as well as its 12th consecutive NCAA Championship berth. The Irish, ranked 22nd in this week’s AVCA Coaches’ Top 25, fell in the first round of the NCAA tournament to #19 Louisville. Notre Dame opened 21-2, the second-best start in school history, and put together a 14-match winning streak — the second-longest in the program’s history — while peaking in the national rankings at No. 12, the highest listing for the Irish since 1996.