Danielle Herndon and the Irish will try to stop a Fresno State attack that ranks third in the nation in kills per game (18.07).

Irish Head To Cal Poly Invitational To Try To Regain Winning Ways

Sept. 10, 2004

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Cal Poly-Best Western Royal Oak Invitational

San Luis Obispo, CA • Mott Gym


Notre Dame (1-3) vs. Fresno State (3-1), 4:30 p.m.

Sacramento State (4-1) vs. Cal Poly (1-2), 7:00 p.m.


Fresno State vs. Cal Poly, 9:00 a.m.

Notre Dame vs. Sacramento State, 11:30 a.m.

Fresno State vs. Sacramento State, 4:30 p.m.

Notre Dame vs. Cal Poly, 7:00 p.m.

IRISH HEAD TO CAL POLY INVITATIONAL TO TRY TO REGAIN WINNING WAYS: After three consecutive home losses — the last two coming in five games — the University of Notre Dame women’s volleyball team will head to San Luis Obispo, Calif., this weekend for the Cal Poly-Best Western Royal Oak Invitational. The Irish will take on Fresno State (3-1) on Friday at 4:30 p.m. (PDT) before facing Sacramento State (4-1) on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and following that up with a match against tournament host Cal Poly (1-2) at 7 p.m. All matches will take place in the Mott Gym.

LAST TIME ON THE COURT: Notre Dame dropped a five-game decision for the second time in four days, falling 26-30, 30-24, 30-26, 24-30, 15-12 to Valparaiso Tuesday night in the Joyce Center. The Crusaders had five players with 14 or more kills and five notched 12+ digs, while the Irish offensive inefficiency continued, though three Notre Dame players just missed triple-doubles. Valpo won the first two points of the fifth game to take an early advantage that it never relinquished. Notre Dame tied the score six times, but could not take the lead. The final tie came at 12-12, but three consecutive Irish attack errors handed Valparaiso its first win over Notre Dame since 1980, snapping an 18-match losing skid against the Irish. Irish junior OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) led all players with 22 kills, matching her career high. She made just three attack errors for a .365 hitting mark. Kelbley also had a career-high nine digs, as well as seven block assists and a pair of aces to finish with a match-high 27.5 points. Freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) ended just a single assist away from a triple-double, as she doubled her previous collegiate high with 16 kills on .342 hitting. She also notched season highs with 15 digs, nine assists, and five blocks, while adding two service aces for 21.5 points. Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) had 18 kills for the second match in a row and scrambled for 13 digs, bettering her previous career best by four. She also had eight block assists to end up with 22 points. Notre Dame’s offense again sputtered, finishing with a .195 hitting mark, its third time below .200 in four matches this season. The Irish were outstanding in the opening game, slamming 23 kills on .327 hitting, but they would top .130 in just one of the remaining four frames.

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 324-112 (.743) 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, 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 1,046 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 1.72 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 had 18 kills in both of the last two Irish matches. 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 .321 currently ranks as the second-best in school history. Notre Dame’s early-season leader in four categories (kills, points, attack percentage, service ace-to-error ratio), Kelbley matched her career high with 22 kills against Valparaiso on Tuesday, while also setting a career high with nine digs and adding seven blocks.

Also back for the Irish is junior captain OH Meg Henican (HENN-ih-kin) who has been a front-line player early this season after serving as Notre Dame’s top libero for most of 2003. One of the team’s top all-around players, Henican 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 3.19 career dig average is the second-best mark in Irish history, and she has hit the 20-dig plateau twice already this season. Freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (stuh-SHEWK) has been Notre Dame’s other starting hitter, already establishing herself as an outstanding all-around player. 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 Tuesday against Valparaiso, and she ranks among Notre Dame’s top four in six different statistical categories.

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. Freshman S Ashley Tarutis (tuh-ROO-tiss), 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 last Saturday 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 reprised that role on Tuesday.

Sophomore L Danielle 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. Freshman OPP/OH Ellen Heintzman was Notre Dame’s libero during the first two games against Valpo, and she also has been effective in sporadic front-row appearances at opposite.

Other than Burrell and Heintzman, a pair of veterans also have seen time off the bench early this season. Junior MB/OPP Carolyn Cooper has been a spot sub at times, while senior DS/L Kelly Corbett played in one game in the back row against Nebraska.

SCOUTING FRESNO STATE: The Bulldogs opened the season last weekend by taking second place in the SMS/Dr. Mary Jo Winn Invitational, losing to host Southwest Missouri State in four games after beating Middle Tennessee State (3-0), Western Illinois (3-0), and Kentucky (3-1). Fresno received votes in the preseason AVCA national rankings and was listed 43rd before falling out this week. The `Dogs return eight letterwinners, including four starters, from last year’s squad that was 21-7 (10-3 WAC) and finished second in the Western Athletic Conference’s West Division before falling in five games to San Jose State in the quarterfinals of the league tournament. Lindy Vivas is the 14th-year head coach of Fresno State, and she holds a 251-155 (.618) mark at the school and an 18-year career mark of 323-215 (.600). After the opening weekend of play, the Bulldogs ranked among the top six teams in Division I in three statistical categories: kills (3rd, 18.07), assists (3rd, 16.43), and digs (6th, 21.93). Junior S Robyn Keune is sixth nationally with 14.43 assists after finishing 35th (12.65) in `03. Senior OH Kristen Fenton, tabbed honorable mention All-America last season, is 11th in kills with 5.64 per game. She was 20th a year ago (5.21).

IRISH-BULLDOGS SERIES NOTES: This will be the first-ever meeting between the schools … the last first-time opponent the Irish faced was the College of Charleston in the first round of the 2002 NCAA Championship at the Joyce Center (a 3-1 ND victory) … Notre Dame has previously played three other current members of the WAC (Hawaii, Rice, and San Jose State), going 4-8 against them … the Irish will take on first-time opponents in consecutive matches (also Saturday vs. Sacramento State) for the first time since the opening two rounds of the 1997 NCAA Championship, when the Irish beat Liberty and Arkansas (on its home floor) to reach the round of 16 … the last time Notre Dame played first-time foes in back-to-back matches during the regular season was 1995, when the Irish beat Seton Hall, St. John’s, and Connecticut — all in straight games — in their inaugural season as a member of the BIG EAST … twins Jessica and Kristen Kinder, who graduated in 2004 after serving as Irish team captains last season, are natives of Fresno, having attended Bullard High School and played for the Fresno Red Volleyball Club … Notre Dame has had more volleyball players from California (22) than from any other state, including current senior DS/L Kelly Corbett (Mountain View, near San Jose) and freshman S Ashley Tarutis (Los Alamitos, near Los Angeles).

SCOUTING SACRAMENTO STATE: The Hornets enter the weekend with a 4-1 record. Sacramento State opened the season by losing in five games (15-9 in the fifth) at Santa Clara and then did not drop a game in winning the Nanook Classic with wins against UMKC, Colgate, and Alaska Fairbanks. The Hornets then topped San Francisco (3-0) in their home opener on Tuesday. Sacramento State returned nine letterwinners, including five starters, from last year’s squad that was 23-12 (12-2 Big Sky) and finished second in the Big Sky Conference before winning the league tournament with a five-game decision vs. Eastern Washington in the final. The Hornets lost 3-0 to Stanford in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Debby Colberg is in her 29th season leading Sacramento State, having compiled a 721-262 (.733) record.

IRISH-HORNETS SERIES NOTES: This will be the first-ever meeting between the schools … Notre Dame has previously played three other current members of the Big Sky (Eastern Washington, Montana, and Northern Arizona), going 5-1 against them … Debbie Brown holds a 15-2 career record against the current Big Sky, including 4-0 at Notre Dame … the Irish will take on first-time opponents in consecutive matches (also Friday vs. Fresno State) for the first time since the opening two rounds of the 1997 NCAA Championship, when the Irish beat Liberty and Arkansas (on its home floor) to reach the round of 16 … the last time Notre Dame played first-time foes in back-to-back matches during the regular season was 1995, when the Irish beat Seton Hall, St. John’s, and Connecticut — all in straight games — in their inaugural season as a member of the BIG EAST … Notre Dame has had more volleyball players from California (22) than from any other state, including current senior DS/L Kelly Corbett (Mountain View, near San Jose) and freshman S Ashley Tarutis (Los Alamitos, near Los Angeles).

SCOUTING CAL POLY: The Mustangs opened the season last weekend by going 1-2 at the Southern Methodist University Volleyball Tournament, defeating Northern Arizona in five games before losing in three against both Texas and the event’s host. Cal Poly returned eight letterwinners, including three starters, from last year’s squad that was 13-16 (5-13 Big West) and finished eighth in the Big West Conference. Steve Schlick, an assistant at Notre Dame from 1991-95, is in his ninth year leading the Mustangs, having compiled a 131-99 (.570) record. Freshman L Kristin Jackson ranked 21st nationally in digs after the opening weekend with an average of 5.73 per game.

IRISH-MUSTANGS SERIES NOTES: The Irish and the Mustangs will meet for just the second time, with the previous match coming in the 2002 Shamrock Invitational at the Joyce Center … Notre Dame won that contest 30-26, 30-28, 30-23 … the Cal Poly Invitational will mark the first-ever trip to San Luis Obispo for the Irish, making it the 119th city in which Notre Dame has played since the program gained varsity status in 1980 … it is the 12th different California city to see the Irish, which ties Indiana for the state with the most cities featuring visits from Notre Dame … Cal Poly head coach Steve Schlick was formerly an assistant under Debbie Brown at both Arizona State (1987-90) and Notre Dame (1991-95) … current Irish assistant Louella Lovely played for Schlick at Cal Poly in 1996, serving as team captain before graduating in ’97 … Cal Poly is one of three Big West teams on ND’s ’04 slate, along with UC Irvine and Long Beach State … Notre Dame has had more volleyball players from California (22) than from any other state, including current senior DS/L Kelly Corbett (Mountain View, near San Jose) and freshman S Ashley Tarutis (Los Alamitos, near Los Angeles) … the match will feature two of the top 10 blocking teams in the nation from a year ago, as the Irish led Division I (3.72) and Cal Poly finished ninth (3.14) … junior M Nicole Bertotti ranked 24th nationally in individual blocking (1.43).

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 324-112 (.743) mark, while holding a 441-194 (.694) 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 SLIP JUST OUT OF AVCA NATIONAL RANKINGS: After going 1-2 (both losses coming to #2 Nebraska) during the open week of play, Notre Dame slipped one spot out of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) USA Today/CSTV Top 25 Coaches’ Poll. The Irish were ranked 25th in the preseason edition of the poll, but saw three teams — San Diego (20th), Long Beach State (23rd), and Purdue (24th) — vault into the rankings this week, while only two previously higher-ranked teams (Northern Iowa and Utah) fell below Notre Dame. This week snapped a string of 17 consecutive polls (dating back to the second one in `03) in which the Irish were in the top 25. Notre Dame will take on nine teams that are either ranked or receiving votes in this week’s poll and is the only school that will take on both the current #1 and #2 teams in `04. The Irish remained 23rd in the RichKern.com poll.

Three `04 Irish opponents are listed in the top 25. USC (Sept. 18 in Columbia, S.C.) leads the way at first, with Nebraska (L, 3-0 & L, 3-2) right behind at second and Long Beach State (Nov. 27, away) at 23rd. Six teams — Northern Iowa (Nov. 16, home), Michigan State (Sept. 17 in Columbia, S.C.), Utah (Oct. 19, away), UC Irvine (Nov. 26 in Long Beach, Calif.), Brigham Young (Oct. 20, away), and Michigan (Sept. 28, away) — were receiving points and listed on two or more ballots.

IRISH JUST MISS BIGGEST UPSET IN SCHOOL HISTORY: Last Saturday, 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 BEGIN LONGEST MIDSEASON ROAD TRIP IN SCHOOL HISTORY: This weekend marks the beginning of a 10-match road swing in which Notre Dame will not return to 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.

START ME UP: Notre Dame continued its tradition of success in season openers, defeating Loyola University Chicago in four games on Sept. 1. The Irish won their season opener for the 14th consecutive year and were victorious in their home opener for the 15th straight time. The Irish are 14-0 in both season openers and home openers in the Debbie Brown era and 20-5 overall in both.

BACK-TO-BACK FIRST-TIME OPPONENTS: Notre Dame’s matches against Fresno State and Sacramento State both will mark the first time the schools have played in varsity volleyball. It will be the first time the Irish are facing first-time foes in back-to-back matches since the opening two rounds of the 1997 NCAA Championship, when they beat Liberty and Arkansas (on its home floor) to reach the round of 16. The last time Notre Dame played first-time foes in back-to-back matches during the regular season was 1995, when the Irish beat Seton Hall, St. John’s, and Connecticut, all in straight games in their inaugural season as a member of the BIG EAST.

IT TAKES TWO, BABY: Saturday will mark the 96th time in the 25-year history of Irish varsity volleyball that Notre Dame has played multiple matches on a single day. The Irish have been extremely successful in these situations under current head coach Debbie Brown, sweeping both matches 20 times, splitting on 10 occasions, and dropping both contests just once (Sept. 19, 1998 vs. Utah and host Michigan State). Only one season (1999) has seen Notre Dame not play multiple matches on a single day. In its last time pulling double duty, the Irish lost in four games to host #5 Pepperdine in the Four Points Sheraton Classic in Malibu, Calif., last August before beating Eastern Washington 3-1 in the nightcap. Overall, Notre Dame has registered 35 same-day sweeps, 33 splits, and 17 times has lost twice on the same day. In the early days of the program (1980-86), the Irish played more than two matches on the same day nine times, including playing three contests on five occasions (3-0 once, 2-1 twice, 1-2 once, 0-3 once), taking part in four matches three times (3-1 once, 0-4 twice), and once, on Sept. 11, 1982, playing five matches on the same day (going 2-3).

THREE-GAME SKID A RARITY: Notre Dame enters the weekend having lost three matches in a row (3-0 last Friday vs. #2 Nebrasko, 3-2 on Saturday vs. #2 Nebraska, and 3-2 on Tuesday vs. Valparaiso). It is just the ninth time in the 14 years under head coach Debbie Brown that the Irish have lost three straight matches. Only once in the Brown era has Notre Dame lost four in a row. From Oct. 13-18, 1995, the Irish fell in five games against #25 Georgia Tech, then in four to #11 Texas, #4 Stanford, and #14 Long Beach State.

IRISH LOSE THREE STRAIGHT AT HOME FOR JUST SECOND TIME UNDER BROWN: Notre Dame has lost three consecutive matches in the Joyce Center (3-0 on Sept. 3 vs. #2 Nebrasko, 3-2 on Sept. 4 vs. #2 Nebraska, and 3-2 on Sept. 7 vs. Valparaiso) for just the second time under current head coach Debbie Brown. The only previous three-match losing streak at home during the Brown era came in the 2000 adidas Invitational, when the 22nd-ranked Irish lost to #4 Nebraska, #3 UCLA, and #16 Michigan State.

TARUTIS TURNS IN TERRIFIC TOTALS: Freshman S Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) made her first start on Saturday — 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.

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) last weekend, the Irish will face two-time defending NCAA champion USC, where Notre Dame head coach Debbie Brown was a standout outside hitter, on Sept. 18 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 Sept. 18 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.

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 Sept. 19, the final day of the Gamecock Invitational, will be shown on CSTV. 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.

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.2@nd.edu. 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.