Oct. 8, 2004
Notre Dame (6-5, 1-0) vs. Rutgers (11-4, 0-0)
Saturday, Oct. 9, 2 p.m. â€¢ College Avenue Gymnasium
Notre Dame vs. Seton Hall
Sunday, Oct. 10, 1 p.m. â€¢ Walsh Gymnasium
IRISH HEAD TO NEW JERSEY FOR A PAIR OF BIG EAST MATCHES: The University of Notre Dame women’s volleyball team (6-5, 1-0) will head to the state of New Jersey this weekend for a pair of BIG EAST Conference matches. The Irish will first take on Rutgers (11-4, 0-0) on Saturday at 2 p.m. (EDT) in Piscataway before facing Seton Hall (6-12, 0-0) on Sunday at 1 p.m. in South Orange, where the Pirates have won nine in a row. Notre Dame will be looking for its 100th regular-season victory in BIG EAST action, as it holds a 99-5 (.952) record in its nine-plus years as a league member.
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 329-114 (.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 99-5 (.952) 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 OH 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 12th with 1,098 and has a chance to finish among the top five on the Notre Dame career kills list. Loomis played middle blocker for the first 10 matches of 2004 before moving to outside hitter against Syracuse. Junior MB Lauren Brewster led the country in individual blocking in `03 (1.78 per game) and boasts a 1.69 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 leads the Irish in points (202/4.70), attack percentage (.291), blocks (64/1.49), and service aces (18/0.42) this season. 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 .313 currently ranks as the second-best in school history. Notre Dame’s early-season leader in kills (158/3.67), Kelbley has had 15 or more kills six times this season, including a career-high 24 on .404 hitting against Michigan.
The other veteran in the Irish starting lineup is junior MB Carolyn Cooper, who was Notre Dame’s top front-row sub for the last two seasons before moving into the lineup against Syracuse for her second career start. She gave an immediate boost to Notre Dame’s blocking, taking part in seven of the season-high 16 Irish blocks.
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 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, also has been rotating with Tarutis, typically playing in two of the six rotations in Notre Dame’s 5-1 offense.
Another rookie, OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (stuh-SHEWK), completes the Irish starting lineup. A “Fab 50” selection playing for Maine South High School and the Chicago-area Sports Performance Volleyball Club, she missed a triple-double by just a single assist on Sept. 7 against Valparaiso and ranks among Notre Dame’s top three in every statistical category.
Junior captain L Meg Henican (HENN-ih-kin) began the season starting at outside hitter, but injuries forced her into the libero jersey. In six matches in the spot, she is averaging 5.05 digs per game (111 digs, 22 games), including a 26-dig performance against Sacramento State that 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 3.39 career dig average is the second-best mark in Irish history, and she has hit the 20-dig plateau four times this season.
Among Notre Dame’s top subs are freshman OH Ellen Heintzman (HIGHNTZ-min), senior DS Kelly Corbett (CORE-bit), and sophomore DS Danielle Herndon (HURN-din). Heintzman, a five-time AAU All-American for the Kentucky Indiana Volleyball Academy (KIVA), has seen some time in the starting lineup at both outside hitter and libero, and she had her best collegiate match vs. Michigan State, ending up with 15 kills on .444 hitting. Corbett was Notre Dame’s top defensive specialist against Syracuse, recording five digs, while Herndon started the year as the Irish libero.
LAST TIME ON THE COURT: Notre Dame split a pair of matches last week, falling 30-23, 30-25, 27-30, 32-30 at Michigan on Tuesday before rebounding to top Syracuse 30-23, 30-24, 30-17 on the road on Saturday.
Junior OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) pounded a career-high 24 kills on .404 hitting, but it was not enough against the Wolverines, who put together late runs in each of the games they won, and that proved to be the difference. Michigan won five straight points to win game one after being up 25-23 and then claimed four straight with the score 26-25 to go up two-games-to-none. In the final game, Notre Dame held a 28-26 lead, but the Wolverines fought back, saved a game point, and prevailed 32-30. Notre Dame’s offense was superb in game three, but the other three frames saw its struggles continue, as the Irish hit below .180 in all of the games they lost. Notre Dame had 19 kills on .405 hitting in the third game to bring its match hitting mark to .227. Freshman S Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) ended up with 39 assists . Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) had 12 kills on a .294 attack percentage, whie senior MB Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) finished with 11 kills and junior captain OH Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) notched seven in her return to a hitting role. In a matchup of two of the top 15 blocking teams in Division I from a year ago, the Irish prevailed with a 12-5 advantage. Brewster led all players, taking part in six blocks, while Loomis and freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) were in on five each. Henican led the Irish in digs with 19, while Stasiuk added 16, but the Wolverines ended up with a .292 hitting mark, the second-highest for an Irish opponent this season.
Notre Dame opened BIG EAST Conference play with a victory for the 10th consecutive season by sweeping the Orang. The Irish, using a new lineup, turned in their top defensive performance of the season, using a season-high 16 blocks to hold the Orange to just a .017 attack percentage. In an effort to snap a two-game losing skid, Notre Dame head coach Debbie Brown inserted junior Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas/Lutheran South Academy) into her starting lineup at middle blocker, electing to move Loomis to outside hitter, a spot where she played during her first two collegiate seasons. Henican, Notre Dame’s top defensive player, moved back into the libero position after playing on the outside against Michigan. Cooper, who has been Notre Dame’s top front-row sub for the last two seasons, provided a boost to the Irish blocking game, as she took part in seven blocks (after having just three blocks to her credit this season prior to Saturday). Cooper, who was making her second career start – and first in more than a year – also matched her season high with three kills. The 16 blocks was a season high even though it came in a three-game match that did not see many points played. Brewster tied Cooper for match-high honors by being in on seven blocks. Stasiuk matched her season high by notching five blocks, while Loomis had four. Floor defense for Notre Dame was improved, as well, as the Irish ended up with 44 digs despite the low number of points (154, the second-lowest total in a match this season). Leading the way was Henican, who had a match-high 16 digs (5.33 per game) to lead the Irish. Stasiuk added 12 digs, while senior DS Kelly Corbett (Mountain View, Calif./St. Francis H.S.) had five digs – one more than she had managed in the first 10 matches of this campaign and one shy of her career-best performance. The Syracuse attack managed more kills than errors in just one game, posting the lowest attack percentage by an Irish opponent since last year’s Orange ended up hitting -.008 (32 kills, 33 errors) in the Joyce Center on Nov. 2. On Saturday, the `Cuse had 10 or more errors in every game and finished with 35 kills and 33 errors, with nearly half of them coming on Irish blocks. The Irish receiving corps was flawless, not allowing a service ace by Syracuse, who had been leading the conference in the category. Brewster was the top Notre Dame hitter, ending up with a match-high 11 kills on a .348 hitting percentage, while Kelbley had 10 kills on .250 hitting.
SCOUTING RUTGERS: The Scarlet Knights enter the weekend with the second-best winning percentage in the BIG EAST Conference, holding an 11-4 (.737) mark. Rutgers will open its conference season against the Irish, though it finished third in last weekend’s BIG EAST Challenge, in which the Scarlet Knights lost in four games to Boston College before beating Villanova 3-2 on their home floor. Rutgers started the year 1-3 (losses to Penn State, Brigham Young in five games, and Western Michigan) before reeling off nine consecutive victories prior to the match with B.C. The Knights have played five five-game affairs already in 2004, prevailing in all but one (also wins against Maine, Towson, and Temple). Rutgers ranks in the top five in the conference in hitting percentage (2nd, .229), assists (4th, 13.24), kills (4th, 15.00), and blocks (4th, 2.47). Junior MH Ashley Young (5th with .338 hitting percentage; 8th with 1.08 blocks) and sophomore OH/RS Lora Yankauskas (8th with 3.47 kills; 9th with 4.07 points) are both ranked in the conference leaders in two categories, while senior S Abbey Martin is third in assists (11.69) and senior MH Addie Thiry is fourth in blocks (1.17). Rutgers returned five of six starters from last year’s squad that was 11-17 and finished eighth in the BIG EAST (5-7 record). Ann Leonard-House is in her 11th season leading the Scarlet Knights, having compiled a 165-143 (.536) record there and a 346-231 (.600) overall mark in 18 years of coaching.
IRISH-SCARLET KNIGHTS SERIES NOTES: The schools will meet for the 10th consecutive season and the 12th time overall … Notre Dame has won all previous 11 meetings, winning 33 of the 34 games … ND won 30-13, 30-18, 30-22 a season ago in the Joyce Center … the Irish will be making their fifth trip to Piscataway … the teams met once prior to the Irish joining the BIG EAST in 1995, a 3-0 Notre Dame win in 1986 at the Hackerman Showcase in Houston, Texas … ND and RU have met once in the postseason, in the 2000 BIG EAST Championship title match at the Joyce Center … in that match, Notre Dame’s Denise Boylan had 62 assists, the most-ever for an Irish player in a three-game match … the lone Scarlet Knight game victory came in 1998 at the Joyce Center, when Rutgers won the third game 17-15 (after dropping the second 15-1) … last year’s 37-point victory for Notre Dame is tied for its third-largest margin of victory since the 30-point scoring format was adopted … in two matches against Rutgers, Lauren Kelbley is averaging 3.50 kills per game on .526 hitting (1 error in 38 attempts) to go with 2.00 blocks and 5.00 points, while Lauren Brewster is averaging 3.67 kills on .447 hitting and 1.67 blocks and 4.75 points and Meg Henican is averaging 3.25 digs per game … in three contests vs. the Knights, Emily Loomis is averaging 2.89 kills on .305 hitting to go with 1.67 digs, 0.44 service aces, and 3.33 points.
SCOUTING SETON HALL: The Pirates enter the weekend with a 6-12 record, and they will play host to Syracuse in their BIG EAST opener on Saturday before welcoming Notre Dame. Seton Hall is 5-0 in the Walsh Gymnasium this season, but it lost its first 11 road matches before finally winning at Rider. The Pirates won the Seton Hall Classic with wins over Central Connecticut State, La Salle, and Iona. SHU has won nine in a row at home, with its last loss in the Walsh Gym coming against Rutgers in five games on Oct. 4, 2003. Heading into the week, the Pirates were second in the conference in digs (17.49) and fifth in blocking (2.45), but were among the bottom two in every other statistical category. Sophomore OH/MB Alex Dyer is ranked sixth in the BIG EAST in kills (3.63) and 10th in points (4.05), sophomore MB Jessica King is seventh in blocks (1.08), senior S Shawn McDonaled — last year’s leader in conference play (12.53) — is 10th in assists (8.33), sophomore DS/L Jessica Pompei is 10th in digs (3.32). Seton Hall returned four starters from last year’s squad that was 20-13 and finished tied for 10th in the BIG EAST (3-9 record). Maureen Rafferty Del Rossi is in her first season leading the Hall.
IRISH-PIRATES SERIES NOTES: Notre Dame and Seton Hall will meet for the 10th time, once each year since the Irish became a member of the BIG EAST Conference in 1995 … the Irish have won all of the previous nine meetings and have never dropped a game to the Pirates, winning all 27 … this will be Notre Dame’s fifth trip to South Orange … the closest game between the schools came in 2000, when the Irish closed out their victory by a 15-13 score in the third frame … the 1996 match saw the Irish make just one service error, which is tied for the fewest ever in a match … in 1997, Notre Dame turned in its second-best hitting performance in school history, with 47 kills and just six errors on 80 attempts for a .512 percentage … the 2002 contest lasted just 1:14, making it the second-quickest affair since the 30-point format was adopted … Shawn McDonald led the BIG EAST in assists in league play a year ago (12.53) … in two matches against Seton Hall, Lauren Brewster is averaging 3.60 kills on .593 hitting (2 errors in 27 attempts) to go with 1.60 blocks and 4.80 points, while Lauren Kelbley is averaging 3.17 kills on .484 hitting to go with 1.33 digs, 1.00 blocks, and 4.00 points, and Carolyn Cooper has four kills on a .300 attack percentage … in three matches against the Pirates, Emily Loomis is averaging 3.56 kills on .328 hitting to go with 1.56 digs and 4.17 points.
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 329-114 (.742) mark, while holding a 446-196 (.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 BIG EAST, 4 Midwestern Collegiate, 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 LOOK FOR 100TH BIG EAST REGULAR-SEASON VICTORY: Notre Dame enters this weekend just one victory away from its 100th in BIG EAST regular-season action. Since joining the conference in 1995, the Irish hold a 99-5 (.952) record, including 56-0 in the Joyce Center. The Irish will be just the second team to register 100 victories in regular-season conference play since the BIG EAST began round-robin volleyball action in 1990. Pittsburgh has the most BIG EAST victories, holding a 102-37 (.734) record heading into a match at St. John’s on Friday.
NOTRE DAME OPENS 1-0 IN BIG EAST FOR 10TH CONSECUTIVE SEASON: The Irish beat Syracuse last weekend to open 1-0 in BIG EAST action for the 10th consecutive season. In fact, the Irish have begun league play 11-0 in every year but one since joining the league in 1995.
IRISH ENDING LONGEST MIDSEASON ROAD TRIP IN SCHOOL HISTORY: This weekend will conclude a nine-match road swing in which Notre Dame did not play in the Joyce Center for 36 days. The Irish will play at home on Wednesday, Oct. 13, against Illinois State for the first time since a Sept. 7 match vs. Valparaiso. 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.
BREWSTER, TARUTIS EARN GAMECOCK INVITATIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT HONORS: Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) and freshman S Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) were named to the all-tournament team after helping Notre Dame to a runner-up finish in the Gamecock Invitational. Brewster finished with 3.75 kills on .365 hitting to go with 1.25 service aces, 2.62 digs, 0.88 blocks, and 5.44 points per game. She led all players in five statistical categories on Friday vs. Michigan State and then turned in the top serving performance for an Irish player since 1995 by notching six aces vs. the tournament host. For the tournament, Brewster had 10 aces — four on a single rotation in the third game against USC — and only one service error in 47 times serving. Tarutis ended up with 10.00 assists per game in helping the Irish hit .212 for the tournament, and she added 1.75 digs and 0.38 aces. Against MSU, the rookie led Notre Dame to a .289 hitting mark that was its second-highest of the season and its best in a match longer than three games since Nov. 7, 2003.
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 Sept. 13 after helping Notre Dame go unbeaten to capture the championship of the Cal Poly-Best Western Royal Oak Invitational. Brewster, who was named the tournament’s MVP, notched three double-doubles in four matches during the 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.
IRISH CHAMPIONS AGAIN: Notre Dame dropped just two games in claiming the title at the Cal Poly-Best Western Invitational, Sept. 10-11. 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.
TV STARS: Last Tuesday’s match between Notre Dame and Michigan was televised by Comcast Sports Local and shown on a tape-delayed basis in southeast Michigan. It was the second time in as many matches that the Irish were featured on television, as the championship match of the Gamecock Invitational, in which South Carolina claimed a 3-1 victory, was shown nationally by College Sports Television (CSTV) as part of its “Sunday Night Spikes” national match-of-the-week package. This marks the third time in the last 18 matches that Notre Dame has been televised, as the Irish beat then-league rival Miami in three games late last season in a match that was part of CSTV’s inaugural “Sunday Night Spikes” series.
DIG TO WIN: Notre Dame’s floor defense is a key indicator of its success. The Irish have won 22 consecutive matches (five in 2004) in which they have finished with more digs than the opponent. The last time Notre Dame lost when outdigging the opponent was Nov. 15, 2002, when the Irish finished with a 76-73 dig advantage at Miami, but lost in five games (15-7 in the fifth). In Notre Dame’s six victories this season, it owns a +1.41 dig average (15.64-14.23), while the Irish are being outdug by 1.71 per game (16.52-14.79) in their five defeats. It was a key factor in the Irish claiming the title at the Cal Poly-Best Western Invitational. Heading into that event, 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 (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.), who had 26 — the second-highest total ever for an Irish player in a three-game affair.
SERVE IT UP: Notre Dame’s serving game has been extremely proficient early in 2004, as the Irish are averaging 1.84 service aces per game through the first 11 matches. That average would rank as the second-best mark in Irish history and is a large improvement over last season’s average of 1.44. The Irish have 79 aces and 97 service errors for an ace-to-error ratio of 0.814, which also would be the second-best in program history. Only twice this season has Notre Dame had fewer service aces than its opponent (Sept. 4 vs. Nebraska & Sept. 28 at Michigan), and the Irish have had 10 or more aces on four occasions, including a 15-ace performance against South Carolina that tied the school record for aces in a four-game match.
IRISH HOLD ORANGE TO .017 HITTING PERCENTAGE: Notre Dame’s defense held Syracuse to just a .017 attack percentage in the 3-0 Irish victory last weekend. The Orange ended up with 35 kills and 33 errors on 121 attempts, due in large part to a season-high 16 blocks from Notre Dame. The Syracuse attack managed more kills than errors in just one game, posting the lowest attack percentage by an Irish opponent since last year’s Orange ended up hitting -.008 (32 kills, 33 errors) in the Joyce Center on Nov. 2. The `Cuse had 10 or more errors in every game and finished with 35 kills and 33 errors, with nearly half of them coming on Irish blocks.
IRISH MATCH FOUR-GAME SCHOOL RECORD WITH 15 ACES VS. GAMECOCKS: Despite losing, Notre Dame served up 15 aces against South Carolina in the title match of the Gamecock Invitational. That sum matched the school record for aces in a four-game match. Notre Dame previously posted 15 aces on Oct, 14, 1994 at Texas and on Sept. 9, 1995 against Kentucky in Bloomington, Ind. In addition to a team-leading six aces from Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.), the Irish also got three aces from junior captain L Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.), and two each from freshman S Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.), sophomore DS Danielle Herndon (Plant City, Fla./Durant H.S.), and freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.). Notre Dame committed just eight service errors and finished with 26 aces (3.25 per game) and just 15 service errors in eight games of the tournament.
BREWSTER’S SIX ACES BEST FOR IRISH PLAYER SINCE 1995: Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) turned in the best serving performance of her career against South Carolina in the championship match of the Gamecock Invitational. She finished with six service aces, including four on a single rotation in game three to set her career high for the second match in a row (4 vs. Michigan State on Sept. 17). Her performance marked the best serving performance by an Irish player since Angie Harris had a school-record nine aces on Oct. 20, 1995, against Syracuse. Brewster’s total – which was further accentuated by her having only one service error – is tied for the second-highest mark ever by an Irish player in a four-game match. In the two matches of the Gamecock Invitational, she had 10 aces and only one error.
BREWSTER POSTS MATCH HIGHS IN FIVE CATEGORIES IN LEADING ND OVER MICHIGAN STATE: Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) had one of the best all-around performances of her career, leading all players in the match in five different statistical categories in helping Notre Dame to its first win against Michigan State since 1994 on Sept. 17 in the Gamecock Invitational. Brewster had match highs in kills (17), hitting percentage (.500), service aces (4), blocks (4), and points (23). She made just two attack errors and no service errors in setting a career high for service aces. Brewster also was third on the Irish with nine digs.
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.
NOTRE DAME OPPONENTS EXCELLING IN 2004: Notre Dame’s opponents have been finding considerable success during the first month of the 2004 season, as seven are either ranked or receiving votes in this week’s AVCA poll and just three of 26 headed into this week with a losing record. In particular the five teams that have defeated the Irish — Nebraska twice, Valparaiso, South Carolina, and Michigan — have combined for a 55-12 (.821) record thus far this season.
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.
FIVE HIT DOUBLE FIGURES IN KILLS vs. FRESNO STATE: Notre Dame’s five-game win over Fresno State on Sept. 10 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.
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. The only previous streak of three straight five-game matches came from Nov. 16-24, 1991.
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 was scheduled to 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 were supposed to face two-time defending NCAA champion USC, where Notre Dame head coach Debbie Brown was a standout outside hitter, in the Gamecock Invitational, but the Women of Troy pulled out of the tournament due to weather concerns. Three-time national champ (1989, ’93, ’98) Long Beach State will play host to the Irish on Nov. 27. 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.
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.
SEVEN-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 Tuesday vs. Michigan (7 p.m./6 p.m. in South Bend) and then features matches on Oct. 13 vs. Illinois State (7 p.m.), 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.firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.