Notre Dame travels to Connecticut and St. John's this weekend.

Irish Begin League Action At Connecticut

Sept. 23, 2009

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – As a member of the BIG EAST Conference since 1995, the Notre Dame volleyball program has claimed nine tournament titles with a regular-season record of 148-21 (.876). With a Sept. 25 trip to Connecticut, the Irish, who were pegged to finish second according to the BIG EAST preseason poll, begin their trek for a 10th league title.

Notre Dame is 13-1 all-time in BIG EAST regular-season openers, with the lone loss coming at Pittsburgh to begin the 2007 league slate.

BIG EAST Conference (regular season)
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Notre Dame Fighting Irish
6-4 overall / 0-0 BIG EAST
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Connecticut Huskies
7-8 overall / 0-0 BIG EAST
Friday, Sept. 25 • 7:00 p.m. (ET)
Gampel Pavilion • Storrs, Conn.
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St. John’s Red Storm
7-9 overall / 0-0 BIG EAST
Sunday, Sept. 27 • 2:00 p.m. (ET)
Carnesecca Arena • Jamaica, N.Y.
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The Field …
– Series: Notre Dame leads, 18-2 (12-2 BIG EAST)
– First meeting: 11.5.95 – Notre Dame, Ind. – Notre Dame, 3-0
– Last meeting: 11.21.08 – BIG EAST Championships (Pittsburgh, Pa.) – Notre Dame, 3-0
– Friday’s BIG EAST opener between Notre Dame and Connecticut will be the 21st time the Irish and Huskies have faced off on the volleyball court … the Irish rattled off 13 straight wins in the series before losing a four-set affair in 2007, but bounced back with a five-set win to end the 2008 regular season and a 3-0 sweep at last year’s BIG EAST Championship … the teams have four times played in five-set affairs, with Connecticut gaining the first of its two victories over Notre Dame in 1998 … that was Notre Dame’s first loss to a BIG EAST school since becoming a league member, ending a 41-match winning streak (35 regular season and six tournament matches) … in the semifinals of that season’s BIG EAST Championship, Connecticut won the first two sets before Notre Dame won three straight to ignite a 12-match winning streak against the Huskies … the Irish have won 57 of 61 sets … facing a four-point deficit in the fifth set against Connecticut in the 2008 regular season finale, Notre Dame rattled off eight unanswered points to deal the Huskies a 3-2 defeat at the Joyce Center … Notre Dame trailed, 11-7, but was aided by five UConn errors over the final stretch to earn the BIG EAST Conference win and the league tournament’s fifth overall seed … Kristen Dealy secured her 10th double-double of the season with 16 kills and 17 digs in that match … the two teams then met in the first round of the 2008 BIG EAST Championship and the Irish pulled off their 11th sweep of the season while overcoming a late three-point deficit (21-18) in the third frame before storming back for the win … Notre Dame dropped a 3-1 decision to the Huskies in 2007 despite Justine Stremick’s 13 kills on a .306 clip … Stremick had four blocks – including two solo stops – and Adrianna Stasiuk (who is currently a volunteer assistant coach for the Irish) turned in 21 digs for the second time in as many contests … Serinity Phillips had a team-high 14 kills to go along with 18 digs in the 2007 meeting … in fact, Phillips also led an Irish attack with a match-high 16 kills in Notre Dame’s 2006 win over Connecticut … Christi Gordon had 31 kills in the 2000 match, the third-highest total ever by an Irish player and the last 30-kill match recorded at Notre Dame … former Irish standout Emily Loomis, who was a volunteer assistant coach for Notre Dame in 2008, was an assistant coach for the Huskies in 2007 … Loomis spent 2001-04 playing for the Fighting Irish and was named honorable mention AVCA All-America in 2003, finishing her career with 1,321 kills to rank fifth on the Irish all-time kills list … she stands as the only Notre Dame student-athlete ever to earn all-BIG EAST honors in two distinctly different sports (excluding track and field and cross country), as she was a four-time all-BIG EAST performer in the high jump for the Irish track and field team, winning the 2003 outdoor BIG EAST title in that event.

St. John’s
– Series: Notre Dame leads, 13-3 (11-3 BIG EAST)
– First meeting: 11.3.95 – Notre Dame, Ind. – Notre Dame, 3-0
– Last meeting: 11.22.08 – BIG EAST Championship (Pittsburgh, Pa.) – Notre Dame, 3-1
– Three straight set wins made up for an opening period setback as Notre Dame upended top-seeded St. John’s in the semifinals of the 2008 BIG EAST Conference Championship … the win neutralized a 3-2 regular-season loss to St. John’s on Nov. 14 and secured the program’s 18th consecutive winning season … Notre Dame juiced the scoring column with three players reaching double-digit kill status as the team hit .349 … Christina Kaelin recorded her third 20+ kill performance of the season with 21 knocks on a .474 average … the output tied her for ninth on Notre Dame’s all-time list of matches with 20+ kills, as her total of seven evened her with Emily Loomis … Kristen Dealy had a tremendous all-around outing with 14 kills and 17 digs … Notre Dame’s first-ever loss to St. John’s came in the 2006 season, a 3-0 home defeat … the two programs first met in 1995, a 3-0 Irish win in which Notre Dame allowed only 10 points (15-0, 15-6, 15-4) … the largest single-set victory margin in Irish history under the 30-point format came against the Red Storm in 2001 … Notre Dame won the first set, 30-8 … the Irish won the first 11 matches of the series history before splitting the last four.

Next week: Notre Dame returns home for the first time since Sept. 13 with one league match against Villanova (Oct. 4).

Bump, Set, Spike …
• Notre Dame went 1-1 at Florida State’s Seminole Tri-Tournament last week … the Irish played in back-to-back five-set matches for the first time since ending the 2008 regular season with five-period tilts against St. John’s and UConn … Miami (Sept. 19) fell victim to the Irish but 19th-ranked Florida State (Sept. 20) got the best of Notre Dame to close the tournament.
• In the month of September, Notre Dame is 302-125 (.707) overall, 44-44 (.500) on the road and 60-44 (.577) on neutral floors … the Irish have dropped their last road matches at both UConn and St. John’s.
• Irish head coach Debbie Brown has shelved over 400 wins with Notre Dame and won five BIG EAST Conference Coach of the Year awards since joining the league in 1995 … the 2009 season is her 19th at the helm of the Fighting Irish program … with a career record of 547-250 (.686) in her 25th season as a head coach, Brown has a 430-167 (.720) mark at Notre Dame.

Upward Bound … Notre Dame is receiving votes (26) in the AVCA Top 25 Poll for the fourth consecutive week … deemed Notre Dame the 33rd-best team in the nation according to its Sept. 21 poll … Notre Dame is the highest ranked BIG EAST Conference team in each poll.

Just Swing and Hit It … Notre Dame ranks 26th nationally with a .267 team hitting percentage … the Irish are 32nd overall with 13.72 kills/set … Notre Dame is second in both of those categories among BIG EAST teams, while Kristen Dealy (8th – 3.50) and Serinity Phillips (9th – 3.47) rank among the league leaders in kills/set … Jamel Nicholas is second in the league with 10.92 assists/set (and 21st nationally) … Notre Dame is second overall among league teams in hitting percentage (.267) and kills/set (13.72).

Phillips Earns Honor Roll Recognition … Senior outside hitter Serinity Phillips was part of the Sept. 21 edition of the BIG EAST Honor Roll … Phillips put up stellar numbers and inched closer to the 1,000-kill mark for her career with 37 kills (3.70/set) at Florida State’s Seminole Tri-Tournament … she also averaged 1.70 digs/set over the weekend … Phillips followed an 18-kill, 13-dig, and five-block performance in a win over Miami (Sept. 19) by tagging the host Seminoles (Sept. 20) for 19 kills on a .432 hitting average (her best ever in a five-set match) … she also had two aces and four blocks against the Hurricanes while adding five blocks versus Florida State … Phillips averaged 4.35 points in her 10 sets played and posted 20+ points in both of Notre Dame’s matches.

Career Day for Dealy … Sophomore outside hitter Kristen Dealy went for 21 kills against No. 19 Florida State (Sept. 20) … the mark was a new career high for the second-year swinger, who also added seven digs, two blocks and an ace versus the Seminoles for 23.0 points … the output came one day after Dealy logged her second double-double of the season against Miami with 14 kills and 11 digs.

The Miami Marathon … Four Irish players posted double-figure kills as the Irish rallied to down Miami, 3-2, in opening action at the Seminole Tri-Tournament hosted by Florida State … Notre Dame trailed, 2-0, before taking the final three sets behind 18 kills and 13 digs from Serinity PhillipsChristina Kaelin (11), Kellie Sciacca (14) and Kristen Dealy (14) each joined Phillips with 10+ kills on the day … the last time Notre Dame dropped the first two sets in a win was against Houston in 2003 … Dealy added 11 digs to match Phillips’ double-double in Notre Dame’s first five-set match this season … Sciacca had seven blocks – three solo – with Phillips adding four more of the team’s 11.5 rejections.

Stalemates at the Seminole Tri-Tournament … Notre Dame faced a formidable field at the Seminole Tri-Tournament with matches against Miami (Sept. 19) and No. 19 Florida State (Sept. 20) … both matches lasted five sets and featured 63 knotted scores and 26 lead changes … 18 ties highlighted the second set of the match versus the Hurricanes.

Irish Earn Stripes at Notre Dame / adidas Invite … The Irish hosted the Notre Dame / adidas Invitational and swept the competition with wins over Wisconsin (Sept. 11) and New Mexico State (Sept. 13) … after dropping the first set of the matchup against Wisconsin, Notre Dame rallied to take the final three periods en route to a 3-1 win … not only was it the first win against the Badgers for Irish head coach Debbie Brown in six tries – and Notre Dame’s first since 1987 – but it was just the second win overall for Notre Dame against a Wisconsin program that eliminated the Irish from their last three NCAA Tournament appearances (2004, 2005 and 2006) … it was the first time Notre Dame lost the first set in a win since Nov. 22, 2008, against St. John’s.

Trio Find Spot On adidas All-Tournament Team … Sophomore Kristen Dealy and seniors Serinity Phillips and Jamel Nicholas were each named to the Notre Dame / adidas All-Tournament team for their performances against Wisconsin (Sept. 11) and New Mexico State (Sept. 13) … Dealy, the tournament MVP, averaged 4.43 kills/set and 2.57 digs/set … Phillips went for 3.86 kills/set and 1.71 digs/set while Nicholas put up stellar numbers with 11.14 assists/set and 2.57 digs/set while leading Notre Dame to a .324 hitting percentage … in playing pivotal roles for Notre Dame in the opening match against the Badgers, Dealy and Phillips slammed down 19 kills apiece, a career-high for Dealy and season-high for Phillips.

Hang It On the Fridge … Sophomore outside hitter Kristen Dealy was named the BIG EAST Conference Player of Week on Sept. 14 … the Santa Barbara, Calif., native earned the honor on the heels of being named MVP of the Notre Dame / adidas Invitational after leading the Irish to wins over Wisconsin (Sept. 11) and New Mexico State (Sept. 13) … Dealy posted a season-best 19 kills with 13 digs for a double-double and three aces in the tournament’s opening match against the Badgers … Dealy added 12 kills against New Mexico State while cleanly fielding 24 serves in the tournament finale.

Aces By Irish … Notre Dame showed signs of improvement in its serving as is evident by its 14 aces and 12 errors in two matches at the Notre Dame / adidas Invitational (Sept. 11-13) … heading into the event, Notre Dame had just 30 aces and 68 service errors … five players – Kristen Dealy, Jamel Nicholas, Megan Dunne, Stephanie Slatt and Frenchy Silva – had multiple aces during the tournament … in fact, a career-high four aces came off the stroke of Slatt after she went back-to-back from behind the stripe on a pair of occasions during pivotal Irish runs against New Mexico State (Sept. 13).

Queen City Queens … Senior outside hitter Serinity Phillips and senior setter Jamel Nicholas both earned all-tournament nods at the Xavier Invitational (Sept. 4-6) … Phillips poured in a season-high 20 kills against Xavier (Sept. 4) on a .459 average and had 11 digs against Tennessee (Sept. 5) … she averaged 3.40 kills/set while Nicholas punched in 11.10 assists/set … for her efforts, Phillips was named to the BIG EAST Conference’s Weekly Honor Roll.

Fresh Start … Freshman middle blocker Hilary Eppink made the first start of her career against No. 7 Michigan (Sept. 6) … she came through with eight kills on a .438 swinging average and two blocks – one of the solo variety.

Scoops By Silva … Second-year libero Frenchy Silva had a career-high 23 digs against Xavier (Sept. 4) … her previous career-best (21) came on Aug. 31, 2008, against Valparaiso … it was the 12th double-digit dig performance of her young career.

Point Irish, Point Wolverines … Notre Dame and Michigan combined for 60 points in the second set of a Sept. 6 matchup at the Xavier Invitational, setting the Irish record for scores in the 25-point set era … the set had 13 tie scores and three lead changes … Notre Dame stared at set point after a Lexi Zimmerman attack error (24-23) and Michigan would eventually get the win after converting its sixth set point … previously, Notre Dame and Valparaiso combined for 58 points in the third set of an Aug. 31, 2008, meeting … Valparaiso won the set, 30-28, while escaping with the match victory.

Conquering the Cardinal … For just the second time in program history – and the first since 1993 – Notre Dame earned a win over a top-five opponent, as the Irish dealt No. 5 Stanford a 3-0 loss on Aug. 29 … Notre Dame’s last win over a ranked opponent came at home against Louisville on Nov. 11, 2007, while the lone win versus a top-five opponent came on Sept. 25, 1993, when the 14th-ranked Irish defeated No. 3 Nebraska at the Joyce Center … the Irish and Cardinal last met in 2003 with Stanford pulling out a 3-0 win … the 2008 NCAA Championship runner-up had never dropped a match to Notre Dame in six tries until this season … the Irish have earned 32 wins against ranked teams and 13 victories over top-10 teams … furthermore, the 1,843 fans in attendance to watch Notre Dame knock off Stanford made up the largest crowd to view a game in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse and the 15th-largest crowd overall in Irish history.

BIG EAST Deals Honor To Dealy … Sophomore Kristen Dealy was named to the BIG EAST Honor Roll (Aug. 31) one day after being tabbed to the Shamrock Invitational all-tournament team … the outside hitter narrowly missed out on a pair of double-doubles during Irish sweeps over Denver (Aug. 28) and No. 5 Stanford (Aug. 29) … Dealy had nine kills against both the Pioneers and Cardinal before peppering LSU with 15 on a .400 average … she also cleanly fielded 40 consecutive serves through three matches before committing an error … Dealy led Notre Dame with 3.67 kills/set and 2.78 digs/set over the three matches.

All-Tournament Nods … Senior Serinity Phillips joined sophomore Kristen Dealy on the Shamrock Invitational all-tournament team … Dealy led the Irish against the Tigers with 15 kills while narrowly missing out on double-doubles in Notre Dame’s first two matches … Phillips steadied the Irish attack with 3.11 kills/set and 2.89 digs/set in the three matches … LSU’s Michele Williams, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, finished the three-match event with 37 kills (2.85/set) and 19 blocks (1.46/set) … Brittnee Cooper (LSU), Cassidy Lichtman (Stanford), Gabi Ailes (Stanford) and Emmy Davidsmeyer (Denver) rounded out the all-tournament team.

Smacks By Sciacca … Early into her third season with the Irish, junior middle blocker Kellie Sciacca already sits second on Notre Dame’s career list for hitting percentage … Sciacca’s mark of .332 still significantly trails Malinda Goralski’s (’01) best of .361 … Sciacca has totaled 622 kills on 1,276 attacks with 199 errors … on the program’s single-season chart, Sciacca’s averages of .343 (2007) and .332 (2008) rank eighth and tenth, respectively.

Preseason Honors … Senior outside hitter Christina Kaelin and junior middle blocker Kellie Sciacca both earned all-BIG EAST preseason nods, as voted upon by the league’s coaches … the duo brought home second team all-BIG EAST honors at the conclusion of last year’s regular season … Kaelin went on to rack up all-region and Honorable Mention All-America honors from the AVCA in 2009 … Notre Dame was picked alongside Cincinnati to finish second in the BIG EAST standings.

All In the Family … Senior Tara Enzweiler will be joined on campus this year by a few familiar faces … two of her brothers, Thomas and Matthew, are also undergraduates at the University … moreover, each of the three were valedictorians at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, N.C.

Bringing ‘Em Back … The Irish added two new – but recognizable – members to their coaching staff during the offseason in assistant coach Robin Davis and volunteer assistant coach Adrianna Stasiuk …Davis was named assistant volleyball coach in June 2009 … Davis, who spent the last three seasons as the head coach at Boise State, rejoined the Irish after spending five seasons with the Notre Dame program from 2001-2005 … with the arrival of Davis in 2006, Boise State got an immediate boost to its program … in his first season with the program, Davis posted the largest win increase for a first-year coach in Bronco history in leading the squad to 13 wins, five more than the 2005 edition of the Broncos … as an assistant coach with Notre Dame for four seasons and an associate head coach for one season, Davis helped lead the Fighting Irish to five consecutive BIG EAST Conference regular-season championships and appearances at the NCAA Tournament, reaching the round of 16 in 2005 … Notre Dame also finished that year with its highest-ever final national ranking – No. 12 in the AVCA poll and No. 11 in the Volleyball Magazine poll … Stasiuk was a four-time monogram winner with the Irish volleyball team from 2004-2007 … a three-time all-BIG EAST honoree, Stasiuk also copped All-American honors as a sophomore and was twice named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District first team … she also became only the seventh Irish player ever to register 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career.

Freshmen Orientation … Three highly touted freshmen will see action for the Irish this season … outsider hitter Marie Roof (Muskegon, Mich./Mona Shores), middle blocker Hilary Eppink (Westfield, Ind./Westfield) and libero Christina Theofilos (Tampa, Fla./Berkeley) each dominated the prep volleyball circuits in their respective regions of the country before donning the blue and gold … Eppink was part of Volleyball Magazine’s “Fab 50”, Theofilos was a All-American and Roof was a finalist for Michigan’s Miss Volleyball award … Eppink made her collegiate debut at the Shamrock Invite against Denver, registering one kill on her lone swing along with a solo block.

This Calls for a Party … Eight members of the Notre Dame volleyball team traveled to Florida in late April and came back to campus with the team title after winning the Collegiate Beach Volleyball Challenge at Fiesta On Siesta Key … the four tandems of Megan Fesl and Angela Puente, Kellie Sciacca and Frenchy Silva, Kristen Dealy and Serinity Phillips, and Christina Kaelin and Beth Wildermuth totaled enough points in both pool and championship play to earn the distinction for the Irish … the Fiesta On Siesta Key tournament featured 48 two-person teams … the initial stage of the tournament had teams broken into 12 pools … at the conclusion of pool play, the top 16 overall teams moved to the Gold bracket, the next 16 to the Silver bracket and the final 16 to the Bronze bracket … all four of Notre Dame’s teams won or came in second in their respective groupings during pool play.

Action Across the Pond … Notre Dame spent nearly two weeks in Italy this past summer while posting a 6-1 record against the nation’s finest club teams on top of splitting a pair of matches against the Italian Junior National Team … Notre Dame hoisted the championship trophy after sweeping through four matches unscathed at the Margie Himmelberg Memorial Tournament in Modica, Italy. … at the tournament, Christina Kaelin was named “Best Attacker”, Kellie Sciacca was named “Best Blocker” and Serinity Phillips was named the showdown’s MVP.

Looking Back at 2008 … With a 17-14 overall record (9-5 BIG EAST) Notre Dame secured its 22nd winning season – and 18th consecutive – since the program’s inception in 1980 (each of the last 18 coming under the direction of head coach Debbie Brown) … the completion of the 2008 BIG EAST Championship saw the Irish earn a spot in the final match for the 13th time in 14 seasons since joining the league in 1995 … Notre Dame now sports a 27-5 (.844) all-time record in the league tournament with nine championships and four runner-up finishes … the Irish have faced Louisville in each of the last four conference tournaments while falling to the Cardinals in three of those matches – and twice in the finale … Notre Dame downed Louisville for the 2005 title … four Notre Dame players – Christina Kaelin, Serinity Phillips, Justine Stremick and Kellie Sciacca – were named to the all-BIG EAST second team … the season marked the first time ever that Notre Dame had four players on the second team … Kristen Dealy found a spot on the league’s all-tournament squad.