Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Irish Earn Top Seed At BIG EAST Tournament

Nov. 17, 1999

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – After sweeping through last place Villanova in three games, the Irish rallied from a 0-2 deficit to come-from-behind and defeat second place Georgetown Sunday in five games for the team’s ninth-straight victory.

With the win, Notre Dame claimed its fourth BIG EAST regular season title in five years and also went undefeated in league play (11-0) for the fourth time.

Tourney Bound
Along with the regular season title, the Irish also enter this weekend’s BIG EAST championships at Pittsburgh as the top seed, earning a bye into the semifinals on Saturday at noon. Notre Dame will face off with the winner of the match between fourth-seeded Rutgers and fifth-seeded Connecticut.

Second-seeded Georgetown, meanwhile, will play the winner of the Providence-Syracuse match in the other semifinal at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. The final match will be played at noon on Sunday, Nov. 21.

Notre Dame is the five-time defending BIG EAST champions and can capture its eighth consecutive NCAA Tournament bid with a win in the final.


#4 Rutgers vs. #5 Connecticut – Noon
#3 Providence vs. #6 Syracuse – 2:30 p.m.

Semifinal 1: #1 Notre Dame vs. Match 1 winner – Noon
Semifinal 2: #2 Georgetown vs. Match 2 winner – 2:30 p.m.

Semifinal 1 winner vs.
Semifinal 2 winner – Noon

Leffers Tops in the BIG EAST
Capping her team’s undefeated regular BIG EAST season, Notre Dame senior Mary Leffers (Tampa, Fla.) established herself as one of the best in conference history as she set records for both hitting percentage and total blocks.

With her season-best 10-block performance against Georgetown, Leffers finished with 67 total blocks in the 11 conference matches to surpass the previous record of 66 held by Stacy Evans of Villanova (1996).

Leffers also broke the all-time individual BIG EAST season record for hitting percentage with a .475 mark to top Sheri Kujawa of Rutgers, who had a .470 hitting percentage in 1996. BIG EAST Scouting Report

Notre Dame has never lost a BIG EAST Tournament match since joining the conference in 1995 and boasts a 9-0 all-time record. The Irish are 1-0 against 1999 tournament teams Syracuse, Connecticut and Georgetown with the other wins coming against non-tournament teams Villanova and Pittsburgh.

BIG EAST Tournament History
1995 – d. Villanova (3-0), d. Pittsburgh (3-1)

1996 – d. Syracuse (3-0), d. Pittsburgh (3-1)

1997 – d. Pittsburgh (3-0), d. Villanova (3-1)

1998 – d. Pittsburgh (3-1), d. Connecticut (3-2), d. Georgetown (3-0)

Scouting the Scarlet Knights
Rutgers is coming off a five-game loss to Connecticut last weekend, earning them the tournament’s fourth seed.

The Scarlet Knights enter the tournament with a 15-13 record and an 8-3 mark in BIG EAST play. The Irish beat the Scarlet Knights at Rutgers 15-7, 15-9, 15-7 back on October 9. Rutgers is 0-6 all-time against Notre Dame.

The Scarlet Knights, under head coach Ann Leonard-House, is led by outside hitters Kera Carter and Lola Opadiran, who both average over four kills a game. Middle blocker Cheri Drake is also a force both offensively and defensively with her 2.71 kills per game, 2.70 digs per game and 1.12 blocks per game.

Last season, Rutgers also was the tournament’s fourth seed, losing to Georgetown in a close four-game match in the semifinals.

Scouting the Huskies
Connecticut comes to the BIG EAST Tournament fresh off a victory over its first round opponent Rutgers. The Huskies, who are 19-8 overall, finished with a 7-4 record in BIG EAST play and earned the fifth seed. Connecticut is making its 18th consecutive appearance in the conference tournament.

The Huskies, under head coach Kelli Myers, are led by senior middle blocker Chanice Harris, who averages 3.39 kills and 1.62 blocks per game, both team bests. Setter Maria Shaker (11.85 assists per game) runs the Connecticut offense, while junior outside hitter Stephanie Schindel is first on the team in digs per game (3.22).

Connecticut handed the Irish their first conference loss ever in the two schools’ 1998 regular season match. Notre Dame, however, avenged the loss with a dramatic five-game win in last year’s BIG EAST semifinal. The Irish are 5-1 all-time against the Huskies, including a three-game win in 1999.

Scouting the Orangewomen
The Orangewomen earned the tournament’s sixth seed on the last day of regular season play with a five-game win over Villanova.

Syracuse, under head coach Jing Pu, enters this weekend’s matches with a 22-13 record and a 5-6 mark in BIG EAST play. The Orangewomen are led by opposite Dana Fiume and outside hitter Rachel Watson. Fiume leads the squad in kills per game with a 3.78 mark, while Watson is second in kills per game (2.52) and first in the conference in digs per game (4.06).

The Irish defeated the Orangewomen in three games in the teams last home match on November 6. Notre Dame is 7-1 all-time versus Syracuse.

Scouting the Friars
One of two BIG EAST teams to take the Irish to five games in 1999, Providence is making its first appearance in the conference championships since 1994.

The Friars, under head coach Ken Nichols, are 16-11 overall and 8-3 in BIG EAST play. They are led by sophomore outside hitters Sarah Katinger (4.97 kills per game) and Annie Cella (3.87 kills per game). Setter Colleen Lee also is a threat with 13.23 assists per game and 3.72 digs per game.

Notre Dame holds a 5-0 all-time advantage over the Friars, which includes the five-game win (12-15, 15-10, 8-15, 15-8, 15-12) back on October 31.

Scouting the Hoyas
The Hoyas came up just short against the Irish last weekend, despite being up in the match two games to none. The Hoyas finished second to Notre Dame in last year’s BIG EAST championship match but still earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Hoyas, who are 25-4 overall and 9-2 in the BIG EAST, are led by outside hitters Kiran Gill and Yulia Vtyurina. Gill, in addition to being one of the conference’s top servers, averages 3.96 kills per game and 3.14 digs per game. Vtyurina, last year’s BIG EAST rookies of the year, leads the team in kills per game with a 4.62 mark. Under first-year head coach Li Liu, however, the Hoyas may be without starting setter Amy Schweitzer, who went out of the two schools’ match Sunday with an injury.

Notre Dame is 8-0 all-time versus the Hoyas.

LIVE On the Web
The 1999 BIG EAST Championships will be cybercast live on the internet at the BIG EAST Conference’s official website, Each match will be accompanied by live, real-time statistics and play-by-play.

NCAA Selection Show
The 1999 Division I women’s volleyball selection show will take place on Sunday, Nov. 28, at 10 p.m. EST (or 7 p.m. PST).

The 30-minute show can be viewed live on television with the use of a DSS dish such as DirecTV or Dish Network. The Sunshine Network (DirecTV 632/Dish Network 422) and Empire Sports (DirecTV 626/Dish Network 432) will air the show live.

The show may also be viewed on satellite at Galaxy 6 (99 degrees west), Transponder 9. The downlink frequency is 3880 MHz (H) and the audio will be set at 6.2/6.8 mixed program.

Further details can be obtained by contacting the sports information office.

BIG EAST Boasting
Not only did the Irish finish their regular season with an 11-0 record, statistically the team reached notable heights.

The Irish were first among conference teams in hitting percentage with a .359 mark, way above second-place Georgetown’s team hitting percentage of .246. Notre Dame also led the conference in blocks per game (3.51) and were third in assists and fourth in kills per game.

Individually, the Irish had four of the best hitting percentages with Mary Leffers hitting a BIG EAST record .475, junior Jo Jameyson hitting .465, Kristy Kreher recording a .377 percentage and Christi Girton hitting .355. Leffers also was tops in conference blocks per game with 1.81.

Irish Among National Leaders
In national statistics through Sunday, November 3, Notre Dame appeared for the fifth time as a team among the nation’s leaders in hitting percentage with a .282 average (16th overall). The Irish stayed eighth for the second straight week in team blocks per game with a 3.33 mark. Top-ranked Penn State is currently first in hitting percentage (.328), while third-ranked University of Hawai’i is first in blocks (4.04).

Individually, Leffers is fifth nationally in blocks per game with a 1.75 mark. Leffers trails the national leader in blocks, Heather Bown of Hawai’i, who boasts a 2.32 per game average.

Notre Dame Tops District Rankings
For the third straight time, the Notre Dame volleyball team is ranked first in the NCAA District rankings, which were released on November 3.

Other BIG EAST teams in the top 10 district rankings include Georgetown (fifth), Providence (seventh) and Rutgers (10th). The final rankings will be released November 17.

Season Notes

Notre Dame head coach Debbie Brown and outside hitter Christi Girton are set to make their final appearance on the SportsCentral (WHME-TV 46) show with host Bob Nagle on November 16. The show will air, Saturday, Nov. 20, at 6:30 p.m.

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.

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 226-77 with the Irish and has a career record of 343-160, 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.


9/1 Valparaiso W, 3-0
Shamrock Invitational
(Notre Dame, Ind.)
9/3 Northwestern W, 3-0
(#6 Pacific 3, Louisville 0)
9/4 #6 Pacific L, 0-3
(Louisville 3, Northwestern 1)
9/5 Louisville W, 3-0
(#6 Pacific 3, Northwestern 0)
BIG Orange Bash
(at Clemson, S.C.)
9/11 vs. Kentucky W, 3-0
9/12 at #18 Clemson L, 0-3
9/18 Miami (Ohio) W, 3-0
9/24 at Wyoming W, 3-2
9/25 at #17 Colorado State L, 0-3
10/1 West Virginia* W, 3-0
10/3 Pittsburgh* W, 3-0
10/5 #23 Michigan L, 1-3
10/9 at Rutgers* W, 3-0
10/10 at Seton Hall* W, 3-0
10/17 USPV (Exhib.) L, 0-3^
10/19 at #8 BYU L, 0-3
10/20 at Utah L, 1-3
10/ 22 St. John’s* W, 3-0
10/24 Connecticut* W, 3-0
10/30 at Boston College* W, 3-0
10/31 at Providence* W, 3-2
11/ 3 Illinois State W, 3-1
11/6 Syracuse* W, 3-0
11/13 at Villanova* W, 3-0
11/14 at Georgetown* W, 3-2
BIG EAST Championships
(Pittsburgh Pa.)
11/20 vs. winner of Rutgers-UCONN 12 p.m.
11/21 Championship Match 12 p.m.
Community Bankers Classic
(Stockton, Calif.)
11/26 vs. Washington St. 5 p.m.
11/27 vs. Pacific/Sac. St. TBA
12/ 2-5 NCAA First/Second (TBA)
12/ 9-12 NCAA Regionals (TBA)
12/16 NCAA Semifinals
(University of Hawaii)
12/18 NCAA Finals
(University of Hawaii)

All times local
*BIG EAST Conference Matches
^Does not count toward record

Top 25 Poll

November 15, 1999

Rk School (’99 record) Points (1st)
1. Penn State (26-1) 1,490 (53)
2. Stanford (23-2) 1,442 (7)
3. Hawai’i (22-1) 1,358
4. Florida (25-2) 1,293
5. Pacific (25-2) 1,282
6. UCLA (24-2) 1,194
7. LBSU (22-3) 1,165
8. Pepperdine (21-2) 1,057
9. UC Santa Barbara (22-5) 1,012
10. BYU (22-3) 950
11. Colorado State (24-1) 904
12. Nebraska (21-5) 861
13. Clemson (29-1) 770
14. Texas A&M (21-5) 708
15. USC (18-6) 637
16. Texas (18-6) 555
17. Northern Iowa (26-0) 541
18. Kanas State (18-6) 533
19. Arizona (16-9) 427
20. Minnesota (23-6) 255
21. Colorado (16-9) 251
22. Baylor (22-7) 239
23. Arkansas (25-5) 160
24. San Diego (20-5) 145
25. North Carolina (25-5) 132

Others receiving 30 or more points: Wisconsin (63)

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.)
Jo Jameyson, Jr., 6-1 (Alvin, Texas)

Defensive Specialists
Adrienne Shimmel, Jr., 5-10 (Mission Viejo, Calif.)
Keara Coughlin, Fr., 5-7 (Chicago, Ill.)

Volleyball Magazine Poll
November 16, 1999

R School 1999 Record
1. Penn State 26-1
2. Stanford 23-2
3. Florida 25-2
4. Hawai’i 22-1
5. Pacific 25-2
6. UCLA 24-2
7. Long Beach State 22-3
8. Colorado State 24-1
9. Nebraska 21-5
10. Brigham Young 22-3
11. UC Santa Barbara 22-5
12. Pepperdine 21-2
13. Clemson 29-1
14. USC 18-6
15. Texas A&M 21-5
16. Kansas State 18-6
17. Texas 18-6
18. Northern Iowa 26-0
19. Baylor 22-7
20. Arizona 16-9

1999 NCAA
District Rankings (11/3)

Rank Team Record
1. NOTRE DAME 14-6
2. Temple 16-4
3. Xavier 18-6
4. Rhode Island 12-7
5. Georgetown 23-3
6. Dayton 12-10
7. Providence 13-10
8. Massachusetts 12-10
9. Hofstra 19-5
10. Rutgers 13-12

Final Regular Season
BIG EAST Standings

Standings Overall BE
1. NOTRE DAME* 18-6 11-0
2. Georgetown* 25-4 9-2
3. Providence* 16-11 8-3
4. Rutgers* 15-13 8-3
5. Connecticut* 19-8 7-4
6. Syracuse* 22-13 5-6
7. St. John’s 16-16 4-7
8. Pittsburgh 11-11 4-7
9. West Virginia 12-16 4-7
10. Seton Hall 15-14 3-8
11. Boston College 13-17 3-8
12. Villanova 9-21 0-11

*=Clinced BIG EAST Tournament Bid

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
10/18 Yulia Vtyurina, Georgetown
10/25 Rachel Watson, Syracuse
11/1 Colleen Lee, Providence
11/8 Christi Girton, Notre Dame
11/15 Sarah Katinger, Providence

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
10/18 Melissa Wooley, Connecticut
10/25 Jen Crownover, Syracuse
Tari Boutin, Pittsburgh
11/1 Pualani Tuyay, Rutgers
11/8 Carrie Norris, Pittsburgh
11/15 Janice Dykema, Connecticut