Sept. 15, 2004
Columbia, S.C. â€¢ Volleyball Competition Facility
Notre Dame (4-3) vs. Michigan State (5-1), 4:00 p.m
#2 Southern California (5-1) at South Carolina (5-2), 7:00 p.m.
Michigan State at South Carolina, Noon
Notre Dame vs. #2 Southern California, 3:00 p.m.
#2 Southern California vs. Michigan State, 11:30 a.m.
Notre Dame at South Carolina, 2:00 p.m. (CSTV) – Live internet audio (uscsports.com)
IRISH HAVE BIG WEEKEND IN GAMECOCK INVITATIONAL ON TAP, INCLUDING SUNDAY MATCH ON CSTV: The University of Notre Dame women’s volleyball team (4-3), fresh off winning the title at the Cal Poly Invitational, has a challenging weekend of competition on tap, as it will head to Columbia, S.C., for the Gamecock Invitational. The Irish will face Michigan State (5-1) on Friday at 4 p.m. (EDT, note time change from original schedule) before challenging two-time defending NCAA champion and #2 Southern California (5-1) on Saturday at 3 p.m. On Sunday, Notre Dame will play the tournament host, South Carolina (5-2), at 2 p.m. in a match to be televised by College Sports Television (CSTV) at 6 p.m. (5 p.m. in South Bend).
FOLLOWING THE GAMECOCK INVITATIONAL: Fans and media unable to attend the Gamecock Invitational will have a number of ways of keeping up with the action. Notre Dame’s official athletic website, www.und.com, will feature links to live scoring of each contest, and also will have a live internet audio broadcast of Sunday’s match against South Carolina (courtesy of www.uscsports.com), available to subscribers of College Sports Pass. For other ways to follow the Irish, see “Keeping Up With ND Volleyball” on the last page of this release.
ND-SOUTH CAROLINA MATCH TO BE ON CSTV: For the second year in a row, Notre Dame will be featured on Sunday Night Spikes, a presentation of College Sports Television (CSTV) and the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) that features matches of the week broadcast on Sunday evenings throughout the season. The Irish match at South Carolina on Sunday will be shown on CSTV at 6 p.m. (EDT) (5 p.m. in South Bend). A year ago, South Carolina upset the Irish in the Shamrock Invitational in the Joyce Center. Notre Dame beat league rival Miami in three games at home as part of the inaugural season of Sunday Night Spikes.
LAST TIME ON THE COURT: Notre Dame lost just two games in notching three victories to claim the title in the Cal Poly-Best Western Royal Oak Invitational last weekend at Mott Gym in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Irish junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) was tabbed the event’s MVP, while junior OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) earned a spot on the all-tournament team.
On Friday, Notre Dame played a five-game affair for the third straight match, this time prevailing 30-21, 27-30, 30-20, 31-33, 15-12 against Fresno State. The Irish had five players register 10 or more kills and three finish with double-doubles in snapping a three-match losing streak. Notre Dame never trailed in the final game, ending up with nine kills on .300 hitting to win the first-ever match between the schools in women’s volleyball. The Irish defense was a key to victory, as it held Fresno State to a .120 hitting mark for the match and allowed the Bulldogs to hit better than .150 in just a single game. Freshman S Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) led Notre Dame’s offense to its most consistent effort of the year, as the Irish had 14 or more kills in all of the 30-point games and hit above .275 in three frames. Tarutis had 45+ assists for the third consecutive match, finishing with 49 to go with a season-high 18 digs. Another rookie, OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.), had her second straight double-double, with 15 kills on a team-high .286 attack percentage to go with 11 digs. Brewster also had a double-double for the second time in as many contests, ending up with 14 kills on .250 hitting and matching her career high for the second match in a row with 13 digs. She also tied her season high with three service aces and was in on seven blocks. Kelbley led the Irish with 17 kills, while freshman OH Ellen Heintzman (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) made her first career start and responded with a collegiate-high 10 kills. Notre Dame finished with 82 digs, while Fresno State – which averaged 21.93 in the opening week – had 77 (15.40 average). It was the first time in eight matches (dating back to last year) that the Irish outdug their opponent. Leading that effort was junior captain Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.), who donned the libero jersey for the first time this season and finished with 22 digs. The Irish dominated the net in a matchup of two of the top 10 blocking teams in Division I from a year ago. Notre Dame, which led the NCAA in ’03, ended up with 15 blocks, highlighted by seven from both Brewster and senior MB Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.), who also had 12 kills. Fresno State ended up with just seven total blocks.
The Irish turned in their top performance of the young season in sweeping defending Big Sky Conference champion Sacramento State 30-16, 30-24, 30-28 in the morning before downing the tournament host, Cal Poly, 30-23, 30-24, 30-14 in the evening. The Irish offense was outstanding against the Hornets, registering 59 kills – an average of nearly 20 per game – on .311 hitting. Tarutis had 37 assists. Notre Dame’s defense was even more impressive, as Sacramento State hit just .116 for the match and did not post a game attack percentage better than .170. The Irish, who came into the weekend with a dig average of 16.29, finished with 80 digs, an average of just under 27 per game. Henican paced the unit with a career-high 26 digs as the Irish libero. Henican’s total was the second-most in a three-game match in school history. Stasiuk also set a collegiate high in digs, with 17, while Tarutis had 10 to register her fourth double-double in five matches. Brewster also had a double-double, ending up with 11 digs. Three Irish players turned in excellent hitting numbers. Kelbley had 15 kills on .364 hitting, while Brewster also had 15 kills on a .323 attack percentage and Stasiuk added 14 kills on .458 hitting.
The Irish defense was the story in the nightcap, as Cal Poly hit just .044 and didn’t hit the .150 mark in any game. In game three, the Mustangs managed just seven kills while committing 13 errors for a -.162 hitting mark. Notre Dame finished with 47 digs and a dozen blocks, with Henican and Brewster again leading the charge. The libero finished with 17 digs, while Brewster was in on six blocks. Tarutis added nine digs and Stasiuk matched her season high by taking part in five blocks. Brewster’s hitting was lethal against the Mustangs, as she finished with 13 kills and no errors on 19 swings for a .684 percentage that matched her career best. Kelbley added 12 kills and also tied her career high with four service aces.
SNAPSHOT OF THE IRISH: Notre Dame’s women’s volleyball program has experienced a wealth of success since the arrival of head coach Debbie Brown in 1991. In her 13 seasons, Brown has guided Notre Dame to a winning record every year (and 20+ wins in each year but one), compiling a 327-112 (.745) mark. The Irish have earned 12 consecutive berths to the NCAA Championship, including a `93 quarterfinal finish and three trips to the round of 16 (1994, `95, and `97). Since joining the BIG EAST Conference in `95, Notre Dame has dominated the league, winning eight regular-season and seven tournament titles in nine years. Overall, the Irish are 98-5 (.951) in regular-season BIG EAST play and 17-2 (.895) in conference tournament action. Notre Dame is 56-0 in BIG EAST regular-season matches in the Joyce Center.
The 2004 Irish team returned nine monogram winners and four starters from last year’s squad that was 23-7 and finished 24th in the national rankings after peaking at 12th. The Irish also led the nation in blocks per game (3.72, with second-place Cornell at 3.52) and have three of their top four blockers back for the `04 campaign.
Offensively, Notre Dame returns three players who were named honorable mention All-America last season and who constitute the only trio in school history to register 350+ kills apiece in the same season. Senior MB Emily Loomis (LOU-miss), the 2002 BIG EAST Championship’s Most Outstanding Player and a fourth-year starter, became the 14th player in Irish history to register 1,000+ career kills late in `03. She currently stands 13th with 1,066 and has a good chance to finish among the top five on the Notre Dame career kills list. Junior MB Lauren Brewster led the country in individual blocking in `03 (1.78 per game) and boasts a 1.71 career block average, which is the best mark in Irish history. She already has five individual BIG EAST statistical crowns to her credit (blocking in league and overall matches in `02 and `03, hitting percentage in BIG EAST play in `03), which is the most-ever by a Notre Dame player. Brewster, the only Irish returning starter playing in the same position she did a year ago, was named the Cal Poly Invitational MVP and last week’s BIG EAST Player of the Week. Her classmate, OH Lauren Kelbley (KELL-blee), is one of only three juniors in Division I to earn all-region honors from the AVCA in each of her first two seasons. In `02, she was the rookie of the year for both the AVCA’s Northeast Region and the BIG EAST Conference. Her career hitting percentage of .317 currently ranks as the second-best in school history. Notre Dame’s early-season leader in five categories (kills, points, attack percentage, service aces, service ace-to-error ratio), Kelbley matched her career high with 22 kills against Valparaiso on Sept. 22, while also setting a career high with nine digs and adding seven blocks.
For the first time in her 20 years as a head coach, Brown has three freshmen in her regular starting lineup, as S Ashley Tarutis (tuh-ROO-tiss), OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (stuh-SHEWK), and OH Ellen Heintzman (HIGHNTZ-min) all have earned starting nods. Stasiuk, who was a “Fab 50” selection playing for Maine South High School and the Chicago-area Sports Performance Volleyball Club, missed a triple-double by just a single assist on Sept. 7 against Valparaiso, and she ranks among Notre Dame’s top three in every statistical category. With the graduation of AVCA honorable mention All-American Kristen Kinder, setter was the biggest hole to fill for this year’s Notre Dame team. Tarutis, a two-time All-American for Los Alamitos High School and the Golden West Volleyball Club in California, took over as Notre Dame’s top setter in the third match of the season and nearly led the Irish to an upset of #2 Nebraska (3-2 loss). Junior S Kelly Burrell (burr-ELLE), who has been a reserve the past two seasons including as part of the 6-2 offense run by the Irish early in `03, started the season rotating with Tarutis, and she continues to see spot action. Heintzman, a five-time All-American for Kentucky Indiana Volleyball Academy (KIVA), moved into the starting lineup last weekend and responded with 10 kills in her first career start. She was twice a first-team all-Kentucky selection in prep action for Sacred Heart Academy, helping it to its first-ever state championship.
Junior captain L Meg Henican (HENN-ih-kin) began the season starting at outside hitter, but injuries have forced her into the libero jersey. Last weekend, in her first matches of 2004 in the position, she averaged 5.91 digs per game, including a 26-dig performance in against Sacramento State that stands as the second-highest total ever for an ND player in a three-game match. Henican, one of the team’s top all-around players, played libero for most of `03 and became just the third player in program history to register 400+ digs in a season, as she averaged 4.23 per game after becoming the starting libero last year. Her 3.33 career dig average is the second-best mark in Irish history, and she has hit the 20-dig plateau four times in seven matches this season.
Other regular contributors for the Irish include sophomore DS Danielle Herndon and junior MB/OPP Carolyn Cooper. Herndon started the year as Notre Dame’s top libero after filling that role early in `03 before becoming a defensive specialist for the remainder of the season. Cooper has been Notre Dame’s top front-row sub for the second straight year, seeing time mostly at middle blocker.
SCOUTING MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans come to the Gamecock Invitational with a 5-1 record. Michigan State opened the year by winning its Coca-Cola/MSU Volleyball Invitational without dropping a game (defeating Ohio, St. John’s, and Florida A&M). The Spartans then beat Arkansas and Wichita State (15-11 in the fifth) in the Wichita State Tournament before losing 3-0 to #6 Washington. MSU has been receiving votes in the AVCA poll, and it is listed 30th this week. The Spartans return four starters from last year’s squad that was 19-12 and finished sixth in the Big Ten Conference (11-9 record) before falling 3-2 to Dayton in the opening round of the NCAA Championship. Chuck Erbe is in his 12th season leading State, having compiled a 237-125 (.655) record. In 24 years overall as a head coach, he is 528-234-3 (.692). He was the collegiate coach of current Irish mentor Debbie Brown at USC, when the Women of Troy won back-to-back national championships in 1976 and `77.
IRISH-SPARTANS SERIES NOTES: The Irish and Spartans will meet for the fifth time since 1998 and the 11th time overall … Michigan State leads the all-time series 7-3, including wins in each of the last five contests, dating back to 1994 … this will be the third neutral-court meeting between the schools, as MSU took four-game matches in the 1994 Coors Invitational in Boulder, Colo., and the 2001 NCAA first round in Madison, Wis. … it will be the first regular-season contest between the teams since the 2000 adidas Invitational in the Joyce Center, when the Spartans prevailed in five games (15-10 in the fifth) … since that match, ND and MSU have met twice in the NCAA Championship, with the Spartans triumphing both in the first round in ’01 (3-1) and in a 3-0 decision in the second round in ’02 at the Joyce Center … this will be the fifth time (all since 1994) the schools have played in an in-season tournament … the squads have split two five-game decisions, with the Irish prevailing in 1982 in the first-ever matchup (15-1 in the fifth), at the Joyce Center, and MSU winning in the ’00 adidas Invitational on the same floor … both teams have been nationally ranked in three of the last four meetings between the schools … all three of Notre Dame’s victories came in the Joyce Center … MSU gained its first wins over the Irish in contests in 1983 and ’84 in East Lansing … Notre Dame then was victorious in the next two matches, at home in ’87 and in the 1994 Shamrock Invitational at the Joyce Center … MSU got revenge later in `94 at the Coors Invitational and has not lost to the Irish since … Michigan State has won 24 of the 38 games, including each of the last six … Debbie Brown holds a 28-21 career record against current members of the Big Ten Conference, including 23-20 at Notre Dame … MSU’s win in ’94 handed the Irish their first loss of the season after an 11-0 start, which still stands as the best in school history … the Spartans’ victory in the ’02 NCAAs snapped Notre Dame’s school-record 36-match home winning streak and the margin of victory (19 points) still stands tied for the largest by an opposing team against Notre Dame in Joyce Center history … the day before falling to Notre Dame, MSU’s Val Stark hit .714 (10-0-14) against Illinois-Chicago in the ’94 Shamrock Invitational, setting a mark that still stands as the top hitting performance by a non-Notre Dame player in the Joyce Center … MSU’s Chuck Erbe coached Brown in her playing days at USC from 1976-77 … Michigan has produced seven Irish volleyball players, ranking it behind only California (21), Indiana (18), Illinois (18), and Texas (9) … last year’s MSU team was ranked in the top 30 in Division I in three categories: assists (21st, 15.02), kills (22nd, 16.39), and hitting percentage (28th, .262) … Spartan Kim Schram, who was 31st nationally in kills (4.81), was named honorable mention All-America in ’03 … current Irish junior Lauren Kelbley had 11 kills on .435 hitting to go with four blocks in the `02 match against MSU.
SCOUTING SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: The Trojans will arrive in Columbia after their NCAA-record 52-match winning streak was snapped last weekend in a five-game match (15-8 in the fifth) at #16 Illinois. USC statistically dominated that contest, holding the Illini to a hitting mark of .126, but still lost for the first time since 2002. The two-time defending national champions opened the year with wins against #12 Georgia Tech and #5 Minnesota (15-12 in the fifth) to win the NACWAA Volleyball Classic before beating Georgia and #9 Pepperdin in four games and then opening the State Farm Illini Volleyball Classic with a 3-0 victory against American. The Women of Troy slipped one spot to #2 in this week’s AVCA rankings, but they still garnered 22 of the 65 first-place votes. S.C. returns three starters from last year’s squad that was 35-0 and dropped just eight games in winning its second straight national title. USC is coached by Mick Haley, the 2003 AVCA national coach of the year, who holds a 96-6 (.941) mark in four seasons at Troy and an 869-194-1 (.817) overall record in 28 years as a head coach. Senior MB Emily Adams and junior MB Bibiana Candelas were both first-team All-Americans in `03, while senior OH Keao Burdine was on the second team. The Women of Troy have a hitting percentage of .318 this season, which ranks sixth in Division I. Candelas leads the way at sixth in the individual leaders with a .453 mark, while Adams is 16th at .428.
IRISH-TROJANS SERIES NOTES: The Irish and Trojans, traditional rivals in many sports, will meet for just the sixth time in volleyball and first since 2000 … USC has won four of the previous meetings, including the last match, a five-game affair (15-11 in the fifth) in Los Angeles in 2000 … Notre Dame’s lone victory came in the 1995 Notre Dame Invitational at the Joyce Center, a 3-1 triumph … this will be just the second neutral-site meeting between the schools, with S.C. winning the other, a four-game match in the 1987 Sportmart Mid-America Classic in Chicago … each of the last four matches between the teams saw both schools carrying national rankings … Notre Dame has never faced a USC team ranked lower than 12th … S.C.’s win in 2000 is the only time the teams have played five games … the Irish have visited USC three times (1992, ’94, 2000) for matches over Thanksgiving weekend … Troy has won 13 of the 19 games … Irish head coach Debbie Brown (then Debbie Landreth) was an two-time first-team All-America outside hitter for USC from 1976-77, helping the Women of Troy to a 72-1 record and a pair of national championships before leaving to play for the U.S. national team … Brown, who grew up in the L.A. suburb of El Segundo, also won the Mikasa Award as the nation’s best all-around player in both ’76 and ’77 … this will be the fifth time Notre Dame has played the defending national champions, having previously lost to Texas in 1989, Stanford in 1995 and ’98 and Nebraska in 2001 … freshman Ashley Tarutis, a Los Alamitos native who played for Los Alamitos High School and the Golden West Volleyball Club, is the latest Los Angeles-area product to play for the Irish … Notre Dame has had more volleyball players from California (22) than from any other state, also including current senior Kelly Corbett (Mountain View, near San Jose) … the Trojans have twice snapped long Irish winning streaks, ending a 12-match victorious stretch in ’94, as well as an 11-match winning streak in ’00 … last year’s USC team was considered one of the best squads in collegiate history, as it was ranked #1 all season en route to a 35-0 record (winning 105 of 113 games) and its second straight national championship … Troy entered 2004 on a 47-match winning streak, the longest in NCAA history, and it grew to 52 before being snapped … last year’s team was ranked in the top five in Division I in five of the seven statistical categories kept by the NCAA, finishing first in winning percentage (1.000), second in hitting percentage (.340), third in assists (16.31), third in kills (17.71), and fifth in blocks (3.19) … this year’s match will feature two of the nation’s top five blocking teams from a year ago, as the Irish finished first in DI (3.72) … this also will be a matchup of the only two teams in the country to have three players returning who earned AVCA all-region accolades in ’03 … Emily Adams was a first-team All-America honoree for the second straight season, while Bibiana Candelas joined her on that squad and Keao Burdine was on the second team … Adams was fifth nationally in hitting percentage (.431) and 29th in blocking (1.39) … Candelas finished fourth in hitting percentage (.434) … Mick Haley was named the AVCA Tachikara Division I National Coach of the Year in ’03.
SCOUTING SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks enter the weekend 5-2, having registered wins over Connecticut, Marshall, Clemson, Northern Illinois, and Towson. The two South Carolina losses came against Wake Forest (3-1) and Duke (3-0). The Gamecocks returned four starters from last year’s team that was 12-18 and finished fourth in the East Division of the Southeastern Conference (6-10 record) before falling in the tournament quarterfinals. They are coached by Kim Hudson, who has a 219-120 (.646) in 12 years at USC. She holds a 389-164 (.703) mark in 18 years overall as a head coach.
IRISH-GAMECOCKS SERIES NOTES: The Irish and Gamecocks will meet for the second consecutive season and third time overall … the teams split the first two matches … this will be Notre Dame’s first-ever trip to Columbia after USC visited the Joyce Center for the 1996 and 2003 Shamrock Invitationals … the Irish, ranked ninth at the time, were victorious in the first-ever contest by scores of 15-8, 15-4, 15-8 … South Carolina upset 15th-ranked Notre Dame last season, with a 30-26, 30-27, 24-30, 31-29 victory … after that defeat, the Irish won their next 14 matches, the second-longest winning streak in school history … that contest lasted 2:25, making it the longest four-game match in Irish history and the third-longest match of any length since the 30-point format was adopted … one day prior to taking on Notre Dame, USC served up 13 aces against Indiana, the most ever by a non-Notre Dame team in the Joyce Center … Debbie Brown holds a 14-11 record against the Southeastern Conference, including 11-7 at Notre Dame … Columbia will be the 120th city in which Notre Dame has played since the program gained varsity status in 1980 … this will be the second Irish trip to the state of South Carolina, after taking part in Clemson’s BIG Orange Bash in 1999 … current junior MB Lauren Brewster led Notre Dame with 15 kills in last year’s match, while L Danielle Herndon had 20 digs and OH Meg Henican added 17 digs … senior MB Emily Loomis had 14 kills in the match, while junior OH Lauren Kelbley had 12 on .310 hitting to go with six blocks.
HEAD COACH DEBBIE BROWN: Irish head coach Debbie Brown is in her 14th season at the helm of the Notre Dame program. She has led the Irish to a 327-112 (.745) mark, while holding a 444-194 (.696) overall record. Brown’s Notre Dame teams have earned 12 consecutive NCAA tournament berths, advancing to the quarterfinals in 1993 and the round of 16 in `94, `95, and `97. Her squads have won 20 or more matches 12 times. A nine-time conference coach of the year (4 MCC, 4 BIG EAST, 1 Pac-10), she has coached eight Irish players to All-America honors, while 32 have gained all-BIG EAST mention since 1995. The Irish also have claimed 12 regular-season conference titles (4 Midwestern Collegiate, 8 BIG EAST) and 11 league tournament crowns (4 MCC, 7 BIG EAST). A captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic volleyball team after winning a pair of national championships and earning All-America honors twice while playing at USC, Brown graduated from Arizona State in 1982 and coached her alma mater from 1983-88, helping the Sun Devils to five NCAA tournaments.
IRISH CHAMPIONS AGAIN: Notre Dame dropped just two games in claiming the title at the Cal Poly-Best Western Invitational last weekend. It meant that 2004 is the fifth consecutive season in which the Irish have captured at least one in-season tournament championship. In 2003, Notre Dame won both the Longhorn Classic in Austin, Texas, and its own Shamrock Invitational. The Irish also won the Shamrock Invitational from 2000-02 and were the champions of the 2000 Lady Seminole Classic in Tallahassess, Fla., and the `02 Golden Dome Invitational at home.
BREWSTER WINS FOURTH BIG EAST PLAYER-OF-THE-WEEK AWARD: Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) was named the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week on Monday after helping Notre Dame go unbeaten to capture the championship of the Cal Poly-Best Western Royal Oak Invitational last weekend. Brewster, who was named the tournament’s MVP, notched three double-doubles in four matches last week, ending with 60 kills, an average of 3.75 per game, on a .336 hitting percentage. She also averaged 1.62 blocks (3 BS, 23 BA) and 2.56 digs (41 total) per game and had 78.5 points (4.91 per game). In the mid-week match against Valparaiso, she was just two blocks shy of her first career triple-double, as she ended up with 18 kills, 13 digs, and eight blocks. Saturday’s evening match, vs. tournament host Cal Poly, saw the Brentwood, Tenn., native match her career best with a .684 hitting mark, registering 13 kills on 19 errorless swings to go with six blocks. Brewster ranked among the top four in four different categories in the Cal Poly Invitational leaders, coming in first in hitting percentage, second in blocks, and fourth in service aces and kills. She was the only non-outside hitter in the top six in kill average. The Brentwood High School graduate, who was named the BIG EAST’s top player three times during October of 2003, joins outside hitters Angie Harris (’98) and Christi Girton (’01) as the only Irish players ever to be named the BIG EAST Player of the Week four times during their careers.
BREWSTER TABBED CAL POLY INVITE MVP, KELBLEY ON ALL-TOURNEY TEAM: Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) was tabbed the tournament MVP for helping Notre Dame to the championship of the Cal Poly-Best Western Royal Oak Invitational, while fellow junior OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) gained mention on the all-tournament team. Brewster finished the three-match Cal Poly Invite with 42 kills, an average of 3.82 per game, on a tournament-high .372 hitting percentage. She also was in on 18 blocks (1.64 average) and scrambled for 28 digs (2.55), while serving up four aces (0.36). She was in the tournament leaders in four categories, ending up first in hitting percentage, second in blocks, fourth in kills (the only non-OH in the top six), and fifth in aces. Kelbley led all players in the event in both kill average (44/4.00) and ace average (7/0.64), while ranking behind only two of her teammates with a .265 hitting percentage. She also added 10 blocks (0.91). It was the second in-season tournament in a row that Brewster was tabbed the MVP, as she gained the same honor in last year’s Shamrock Invitational. Kelbley gained all-tournament honors for the fourth time in her career.
DEBBIE BROWN FIELDS THREE FRESHMEN IN STARTING LINEUP FOR FIRST TIME EVER: When an injury to junior captain Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) forced her switch to libero prior to last weekend’s Cal Poly Invitational, head coach Debbie Brown replaced her in the starting lineup with freshman OH Ellen Heintzman (Lousville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy). She joined S Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) and OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) to form the first trio of freshmen ever to be regular starters for a team led by Brown, who is in her 20th season as a head coach. At different times, the Irish mentor has started three rookies in a single match in order to get them experience (most recently current juniors MB Lauren Brewster, MB/OH Lauren Kelbley, and S Kelly Burrell against Loyola on Sept. 14, 2002), but this trio is the first to be among Notre Dame’s regular starters since the arrival of Brown in 1991.
IRISH JUST MISS BIGGEST UPSET IN SCHOOL HISTORY: On Sept. 4, Notre Dame took a two-games-to-one lead against #2 Nebraska, but could not hold on, eventually losing 15-10 in the fifth game. The Huskers would have been the highest-ranked team ever to lose to the Irish, but their 1993 squad still holds that distinction, as Notre Dame upset #3 Nebraska in four games in the Golden Dome Invitational in the Joyce Center. Nonetheless, the five-game loss marked a significant improvement for the Irish against the nation’s very best teams. Only once in 11 previous contests against squads ranked #1 or #2 had Notre Dame managed to win a game — in a four-game loss to #2 Florida in 1997 in the Joyce Center.
IRISH IN MIDST OF LONGEST MIDSEASON ROAD TRIP IN SCHOOL HISTORY: This weekend continues a 10-match road swing in which Notre Dame will not play in the Joyce Center for 36 days, until an Oct. 13 match against Illinois State. It is the longest midseason road trip in the 25-year history of the program, in terms of both consecutive matches away from home and time between home tilts. Twice the Irish have finished the season with longer road swings, ending both the 1980 and `91 campaigns with 12 consecutive road matches.
FIVE HIT DOUBLE FIGURES IN KILLS vs. FRESNO STATE: Notre Dame’s five-game win over Fresno State last Friday in the opening match of the Cal Poly-Best Western Royal Oak Invitational saw the Irish put five players in double figures in kills for the first time in nearly two years. Junior OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) led the Irish with 17 kills, while freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) had 15, junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) added 14, senior MB Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) had 12, and rookie OH Ellen Heintzman (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) registered 10 in her first career start. It was the first time five Notre Dame players had 10+ kills in a match since Sept. 14, 2002, in a five-game win against #10 Pepperdine in the final of the Golden Dome Invitational at the Joyce Center. Loomis, Brewster, and Kelbley also were part of that effort.
IRISH HOLD CAL POLY TO .044 HITTING: Notre Dame’s defense held Cal Poly to just 32 kills, while committing 27 errors, for an .044 hitting percentage last Saturday. The mark was the lowest for an Irish opponent since Syracuse had 32 kills and 33 errors for a -.008 attack percentage on Nov. 2 of last season. The Mustangs troubles, which were accentuated by 12 Notre Dame blocks and 47 Irish digs, hit a nadir in the third game, as Cal Poly managed just seven kills, while making 13 attack errors for a -.162 mark.
DYNAMIC DIGGING: Notre Dame’s floor defense was a key factor in the Irish claiming the title at the Cal Poly-Best Western Invitational, and it was a marked improvement over recent Irish performances. Heading into last weekend, Notre Dame had been outdug in seven consecutive matches (dating back to 2003), but the Irish averaged 19.00 digs per game for the tournament, finishing each match with more digs than their opponents. A highlight of that was Notre Dame registering 80 digs in a three-game win over Sacramento State for an average of 26.67 per game. Leading the way was junior captain L Meg Henican, who had 26 — the second-highest total ever for an Irish player in a three-game affair. Notre Dame had more digs than its opponents in just 14 of 30 matches in `03, but superior digging has proven to be an effective formula for Irish victories. Notre Dame has won each of the last 20 matches in which it has had more digs than its opponent, dating back to Nov. 17, 2002.
HENICAN JUST MISSES SCHOOL RECORD WITH 26 DIGS vs. SACRAMENTO STATE: Junior captain L/OH Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) registered a career-high 26 digs in a three-game win over Sacramento State on Sept. 11. It was the second-highest dig total for an Irish player in a three-game match in school history, trailing only the 28 by Jessica Kinder in last year’s win against Valparaiso on Sept. 9 in the Joyce Center. Henican was playing libero for the first time this season in the Cal Poly Invitational, and she responded by averaging 5.91 digs per game over three matches.
STASIUK ONE ASSIST SHY OF TRIPLE-DOUBLE vs. VALPO: Rookie OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) nearly registered a triple-double on Sept. 7 in the five-game match against Valparaiso. She finished with a season-high 16 kills (on .342 hitting) to go with 15 digs and nine assists in Notre Dame’s loss to the Crusaders. Stasiuk also had a pair of service aces and was in on five blocks for a total of 21.5 points. She has started every match for the Irish in `04 and ranks among the team’s top three in every statistical category.
TARUTIS TURNS IN TERRIFIC TOTALS: Freshman S Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) made her first start on Sept. 4 vs. #2 Nebraska — after playing only in the back row in the first two matches of the season — and responded by nearly leading Notre Dame to its biggest victory (in terms of national rankings) in the program’s history. She helped the Irish to hitting percentages over .425 in two games, as well as a .244 mark for the match. Tarutis finished with 51 assists and 14 digs, as well as six kills on .357 hitting. Her assist total was the most for an Irish freshman in a match since Denise Boylan had 73 on Dec. 13, 1997, against Wisconsin in the round of 16 of the NCAA Championship. Tarutis’ six kills were the most for a Notre Dame freshman setter since Shannon Tuttle notched six against Bowling Green on Oct. 13, 1992.
IT TAKES TWO, BABY: Last Saturday marked the 96th time in the 25-year history of Irish varsity volleyball that Notre Dame played multiple matches on a single day, and the Irish continued their impressive play in those situations. In the 32 occasions under current head coach Debbie Brown, Notre Dame has swept both matches 21 times, split on 10 occasions, and dropped both contests just once (Sept. 19, 1998 vs. Utah and host Michigan State).
LET’S PLAY FIVE … AGAIN: For just the second time in the 25-year history of the program, Notre Dame played three consecutive five-game affairs earlier this month. The Irish lost to #2 Nebraska in the Joyce Center on Sept. 4 (15-11 in the fifth) and then, four days later, fell 15-12 in the fifth to Valparaiso. On Sept. 10, Notre Dame defeated Fresno State (15-12 in the fifth) in the opening match of the Cal Poly-Best Western Royal Oak Invitational.
HOME, SWEET HOME: Notre Dame’s Joyce Center has become one of the most difficult places in the nation for road teams to win, especially since the arrival of head coach Debbie Brown in 1991. Over the last 13 years, Notre Dame has posted a 160-26 (.860) home record. The Irish have pieced together a variety of impressive winning streaks on their home floor, winning 14 or more in a row on five different occasions, highlighted by 27 consecutive home wins from 1993-95 and a program-best 36-match winning streak from 2000-02. Notre Dame currently has won 72 consecutive regular-season conference matches (56-0 vs. the BIG EAST) in the Joyce Center, with its last defeat coming in 1990. The Irish, who have topped 13 ranked teams – including four top-10 squads – at home, also hold a 153-7 (.956) record against unranked teams in the Joyce Center, including a 52-match winning streak (1998-2002).
THREE RECENT NATIONAL CHAMPIONS, A DOZEN ’03 NCAA TOURNAMENT TEAMS HIGHLIGHT 2004 SCHEDULE: A dozen teams earning berths to last year’s NCAA Championship and a trio of teams that have combined to win six of the last 11 national titles highlight the 2004 schedule. Notre Dame will take on three of the last five teams to win national championships. After consecutive home dates against Nebraska (national champions in 1995 and 2000) earlier this month, the Irish will face two-time defending NCAA champion USC, where Notre Dame head coach Debbie Brown was a standout outside hitter, on Saturday in Columbia, S.C., as well as three-time national champ (1989, ’93, ’98) Long Beach State on Nov. 27 on the 49ers’ home floor. Twelve of Notre Dame’s 17 non-conference matches will be against NCAA participants from a year ago, including half of the 16 road matches.
PRESEASON BIG EAST FAVORITES: For the 10th consecutive season, Notre Dame is the favorite in the BIG EAST Conference. The Irish, who have captured eight regular-season and seven tournament crowns in their nine years in the league, garnered nine first-place votes and were chosen as the favorite in the preseason volleyball poll of conference head coaches. Pittsburgh, which beat the Irish in last year’s BIG EAST final after the teams shared the regular-season crown, gained two first-place votes and was picked second. The teams will meet in the Joyce Center on Nov. 12 in a match slated to take place before the football pep rally for the matchup between the schools on the gridiron the following day. For the first time since the debut of the preseason all-BIG EAST team in 1998, one school placed three players on it. Notre Dame senior OH/MB/OPP Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) and juniors MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) and MB/OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) were tabbed after the younger two were first-team all-league honorees in `03 and Loomis was on the second team after being a first-team selection in `02.
IRISH ONE OF JUST TWO DIVISION I TEAMS RETURNING THREE ALL-REGION PLAYERS: Back for Notre Dame in 2004 are three players – senior OH/MB/OPP Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) and junior MB/OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) – who were tabbed all-Northeast Region and honorable mention All-America by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) last season. The Irish are one of only a pair of Division I squads (also two-time defending NCAA champion USC) to have three players back who earned all-region accolades from the AVCA in 2003.
IRISH ONLY SQUAD IN NATION TO TAKE ON PRESEASON #1 AND #2 TEAMS: Notre Dame is the only squad in the nation that will play both the preseason #1 and #2 teams in 2004. The Irish will take on two-time defending NCAA champion and #1 USC on Saturday in the Gamecock Invitational in Columbia, S.C. after dropping a pair of matches (3-0 and 3-2) to #2 Nebraska last weekend in the Joyce Center.
BREWSTER, IRISH LOOK TO REPEAT AS NCAA BLOCKING CHAMPS: In 2003, Notre Dame won its first two NCAA statistical championships, as the Irish were the top blocking squad in Division I with an average of 3.72 per game (second-place Cornell averaged only 3.52), while then-sophomore MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) led the nation in individual blocking (1.78 per game). The core of Notre Dame’s blocking unit returns for the ’04 season, with Brewster, junior MB/OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.), and senior OH/MB/OPP Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) back in the fold. Gone is OPP Katie Neff, who was third on the Irish in blocking in both 2002 and ’03. That quartet holds the distinction of being the only foursome in Notre Dame history to post 100 blocks apiece in the same season, a feat it accomplished in both of the last two campaigns.
CLASS OF THE CONFERENCE: Notre Dame has experienced unprecedented success in the nine years since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995. The Irish have compiled a 98-5 (.951) regular-season mark, highlighted by eight titles and winning streaks of 45 and 35 consecutive matches. Notre Dame is 56-0 in BIG EAST regular-season matches in the Joyce Center, and the Irish have won seven BIG EAST tournament championships, posting a 17-2 mark in the event and reaching the final every year. Notre Dame also has dominated the conference awards, winning player-of-the-year honors six times and the coach-of-the-year award on four occasions. In seven instances, Irish players have been named the league tournament’s most outstanding player. Also, Notre Dame student-athletes have garnered 32 all-conference accolades, including 20 first-team honors, which account for more than one-third of the first-team selections during the span.
SIX-MATCH SCHEDULE SET FOR www.und.com INTERNET AUDIO: Notre Dame’s official athletic website, www.und.com, will feature six internet audio broadcasts of Irish matches this season, available to subscribers of College Sports Pass. Former Bethel College volleyball coach Dr. Lorne Oke returns to call the action, and he will be joined again by Stephen Hinkel, in his second season of Irish volleyball. The schedule continues on Oct. 13 vs. Illinois State (7 p.m.), and then features matches on Nov. 5 vs. Connecticut (7 p.m.), Nov. 12 vs. Pittsburgh (4 p.m.), and Nov. 16 vs. Northern Iowa (7 p.m.). For more information about College Sports Pass, see www.und.com.
KEEPING UP WITH ND VOLLEYBALL: For the fastest results of Notre Dame volleyball matches, call the Notre Dame sports hotline at (574) 631-3000 and choose #5 and #1. The hotline provides schedules and result information for all Irish varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the match recaps and weekly releases provided on the official athletics website at www.und.com. The hotline is the first medium updated with results of each Notre Dame volleyball match.
Once again, www.und.com will be the best place for in-depth coverage of Irish volleyball. Live scoring of all home matches, as well as live internet broadcasts of six contests supplement the regular match previews and recaps.
In addition, media members and fans may be added to the sports information e-mail release list by contacting assistant sports information director Bo Rottenborn at Rottenborn.email@example.com. All requests for story ideas, interview access, match credentials, and further information on Irish volleyball should similarly be directed to Rottenborn. Credential and interview requests should be made at least 24 hours in advance.