Nov. 18, 2004
BIG EAST Championship
 Notre Dame (16-8, 9-1) vs.  Boston College (20-11, 6-4)
Semifinals â€¢ Saturday, Nov. 20, 1:00 p.m. â€¢ Fitzgerald Field House
– Real-Time Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com
 Pittsburgh (20-7, 8-2) vs.  Syracuse (25-6, 8-2)
Semifinals â€¢ Saturday, Nov. 20, 3:30 p.m. â€¢ Fitzgerald Field House
– Real-Time Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com
– Radio: WPTS 92.1 FM, www.wpts.pitt.edu/live
Final â€¢ Sunday, Nov. 21, 2:00 p.m. â€¢ Fitzgerald Field House
– Real-Time Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com
– Radio: WPTS 92.1 FM, www.wpts.pitt.edu/live (if Pittsburgh is in the match)
TOP-SEEDED IRISH HEAD TO PITTSBURGH FOR BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP: The University of Notre Dame women’s volleyball team (16-8, 9-1), which claimed its ninth regular-season title in 10 years of league membership last weekend, will now take aim at its eighth BIG EAST Championship title, as it heads to Pittsburgh this weekend. The top-seeded Irish will take on fourth-seeded Boston College (20-11, 6-4), the only team to have topped Notre Dame in league play in 2004, in the semifinals on Saturday at 1 p.m. (EST). The championship match will be on Sunday at 2 p.m., with the winner claiming the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
THE RADIO PLANS: The University of Pittsburgh’s student radio station, WPTS 92.1 FM, will provided live broadcasts of all matches featuring the Panthers this weekend. Matt Grubba and Brian Weaver will have the call, which also can be accessed online at www.wpts.pitt.edu/live.
REAL-TIME STATS: Live in-game statistics of all matches will be available through the official sites of both the University of Pittsburgh’s athletic department (www.pittsburghpanthers.com) and the BIG EAST Conference (www.bigeast.org).
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 339-117 (.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 107-6 (.947) in regular-season BIG EAST play and 17-2 (.895) in conference tournament action. Notre Dame is 60-1 (.984) 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 features 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 seventh with 1,242 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. Junior MB Lauren Brewster — the only player in the BIG EAST, at any position, to be averaging over 1.00 blocks (1.48) and 1.00 digs (2.16) — led the country in individual blocking in `03 (1.78 per game), and her career block average of 1.65 is second-best in school history, while she also ranks second in attack percentage (.316). She was tops in BIG EAST play in blocks (1.66) to claim her sixth conference statistical crown (also 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, has been the league’s player of the week three times this season. She leads the Irish in kills (328/3.64), attack percentage (.312), points (431/4.79), and blocks. Brewster, who had a triple-double against Illinois State (17 kills, 13 digs, 11 blocks) had a streak of 15 consecutive matches with 11+ kills snapped on Oct. 30. 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 .303 currently ranks as the fifth-best in school history. Notre Dame’s leader in kill average (289/3.66), Kelbley has had 15 or more kills 10 times this season (20+ on four occasions), and she became the first Irish player in almost four years to pound 25 or more kills in a match, doing so against Seton Hall on Oct. 10. 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 on Oct. 2. She has provided an immediate boost to Notre Dame’s blocking, as she is averaging 1.40 per game since becoming a starter, and the team is averaging 3.63 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 starting 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. The duo combined to give Notre Dame the top hitting mark (.254) in conference action this season. 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 ranks among Notre Dame’s top four in six statistical categories. After missing a triple-double by just a single assist on Sept. 7 against Valparaiso, Stasiuk became the first Irish player since 1998 to register one, clinching it in three games against Illinois State before finishing with 14 kills, 11 digs, and 11 blocks. She was tabbed the BIG EAST Conference Rookie of the Week in consecutive weeks, on Oct. 11 and 18. Junior captain L Meg Henican (HENN-ih-kin) is in the midst of one of the best defensive seasons in Notre Dame history, as she is on pace to shatter the school record for season dig average (4.78, record is 4.10) and is just 70 away from the record for total digs in a season (500). She began the season starting at outside hitter, but injuries forced her into the libero jersey. She led Notre Dame to the league’s lowest opponent hitting percentage in BIG EAST matches (.134). On Oct. 10 at Seton Hall, she registered 37 digs in four games to break the 12-year-old Notre Dame record for digs in any-length match and become the first Irish player since 1993 to have 30+ digs in a contest. She also has had 24 or more digs in three-game matches four times this season, after that had been accomplished just twice in the first 24 years of varsity volleyball. She also became just the second libero ever to be named BIG EAST Player of the Week. Her 3.67 career dig average is the second-best mark in Irish history, and she has hit the 20-dig plateau nine times this season, while failing to notch 15 digs only five times in 24 matches. 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 and Herndon have seen time as defensive specialists after the latter started the season as Notre Dame’s libero.
IRISH IN THE BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP: For the 10th consecutive year, Notre Dame has earned a berth in the BIG EAST Championship, to take place Saturday and Sunday in Pittsburgh’s Fitzgerald Field House. The tournament features the top four teams in the conference, as determined by winning percentage in league matches, taking part in a single-elimination tournament. The winner receives the BIG EAST’s automatic berth in the NCAA Championship, which begins at campus sites on Dec. 2. The Irish are 17-2 in the league tournament, having won seven championships. Notre Dame’s only defeats came in the title matches in 1999 (3-2 loss to Georgetown) and 2003 (3-0 loss to Pittsburgh). The Irish come into the BIG EAST tournament as the No. 1 seed for the eighth time in 10 years (No. 3 in `98, No. 2 in `03). The Irish will take on the only league team to defeat them during the regular season, fourth-seeded Boston College (20-11, 6-4), at 2 p.m. (EST) on Saturday in the first semifinal. Second-seeded tournament host and defending champion Pittsburgh (20-7, 8-2) and third-seeded Syracuse (25-6, 8-2) will play at 3:30 p.m. (EST) on Saturday. The winners of those matches will tussle for the league title on Sunday at 2 p.m. (EST).
IRISH-EAGLES SERIES NOTES: The Irish and Eagles will meet for the 12th time overall and first in the postseason … Notre Dame has won 10 of the previous 11 contests, taking 30 of the 34 games … BC handed the Irish their first-ever regular-season home BIG EAST defeat on Nov. 7 in a 30-14, 30-22, 30-28 affair … it was the first time the Irish had lost at home in a conference regular-season match since 1990, snapping a 74-match winning streak … BC was the first league team to sweep the Irish in the Joyce Center in regular-season action since 1984, and the margin of the defeat was the largest for Notre Dame in a home match since rally scoring was adopted … the Irish prevailed 30-26, 30-21, 30-23 in Chestnut Hill in 2003 … the schools played once prior to Notre Dame joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995, with the Irish prevailing 15-10, 15-5, 15-9 at home in 1991 … Boston College’s lone game victory before this season came in 1997 in Chestnut Hill, when the Eagles took the third game 15-13 before the Irish won the fourth 15-2 to begin a streak of 19 consecutive game victories … Notre Dame’s 15-0, 15-5, 15-0 win in 1995 featured on of the top hitting performances in school history, as the Irish notched 27 kills and only three errors on 50 attempts for a .480 hitting mark … the 40-point victory margin also is tied for the third-largest ever … last year, the Irish registered 11 solo blocks in three games, which is tied for the most ever for an ND team in any length match … the Eagles ranked 29th in Division I in service aces (2.02) in 2003.
IRISH-PANTHERS SERIES NOTES: The Irish and Panthers could meet for the 23rd time … Notre Dame has won 17 of the previous matches against Pittsburgh, which is the most common opponent in the history of the Irish program … the Irish won last weekend in the Joyce Center 30-30-25, 30-22, 30-19 … the 13-year streak of at least one contest against the Panthers also is the longest vs. any current foe … after Notre Dame had won 15 straight against Pittsburgh, dating back to 1992, the Panthers topped the Irish twice in 2003, winning 20-30, 30-26, 30-25, 13-30, 15-13 in the regular season in Pittsburgh and 30-20, 30-26, 31-29 in the final of the BIG EAST Championship in the Joyce Center … the former match denied Notre Dame its seventh undefeated BIG EAST regular-season record and gave UP a share of the league title … the Irish are 7-3 at Pittsburgh … the teams have played five-game matches on three occasions, with the Irish prevailing in 1998 in Pittsburgh (21-19 in the fifth) and in ’99 at home (15-8 in the fifth) before the Panthers were victorious in ’03 … the schools first met in 1984 in Pittsburgh, with the Panthers winning in three … the Irish then gained a win in 1986 at home before consecutive UP wins in 1989 (at the Notre Dame Invitational in the Joyce Center) and in ’90 (in Pittsburgh) … the recent streak of ND dominance (and yearly meetings) began in 1992 … the Irish eliminated Notre Dame from the 1994 NCAA tournament second round with a four-game win in the Joyce Center … the BIG EAST era has seen the Irish win 13 of 15 matches, with the teams playing in the league tournament on five occasions (1995-98, 2003) … Notre Dame leads in games won 53-30 … in 1986, Notre Dame’s Taryn Collins had 31 digs against Pittsburgh in a four-game win, which is the second-most for an Irish player in a non-five-game match … the ’98 five-gamer’s final frame (ND won 21-19) stands as the longest fifth game in Irish history and is tied for the most points scored under the 15-point format … the 2000 match (3-1 ND victory) in Pittsburgh had a number of notable performances for the Irish, as Christi Girton notched 30 kills and Denise Boylan had 86 assists, which stands as the most for an Irish setter in a non-five-game affair … the Irish finished with 99 kills, which is the most for ND in a match decided in fewer than five games … in ’01, Notre Dame turned in one of its best-ever hitting performances, with 52 kills and only five errors on 95 swings for a .495 percentage … these were the only two BIG EAST teams to make the 2003 NCAA tournament … Pittsburgh ranked among the nation’s top 25 in four statistical categories in ’03: assists (10th, 15.40), kills (11th, 16.70), winning percentage (20th, .813), and digs (23rd, 17.96) … Megan Miller, a first-team all-BIG EAST and honorable mention All-America selection, finished 43rd in Division I in hitting percentage (.361) … Megan McGrane, who was fifth nationally in digs (5.36), was the first-ever BIG EAST Libero of the Year and earned honorable mention all-league accolades … Lindsey Macke finished 19th nationally in assists (13.20) … Chris Beerman was a BIG EAST Conference Co-Coach of the Year, along with ND’s Debbie Brown … Beerman also was tabbed the top coach in the AVCA’s Northeast Region … gone is BIG EAST Player of the Year and third-team All-American outside hitter Wendy Hatlestad … in four matches against the Panthers, junior MB Lauren Brewster is averaging 3.27 kills on .321 hitting to go with 2.13 blocks, 0.20 aces, and 4.70 points … junior L Meg Henican is averaging 5.46 digs per game vs. Pittsburgh.
IRISH-ORANGE SERIES NOTES: The Irish and Orange could meet for the 14th time … Syracuse won the first match between the schools, but Notre Dame has won each subsequent affair, including by 30-23, 30-24, 30-17 scores on Oct. 20 in Syracuse … Irish prevailed 30-16, 30-26, 30-21 last season in the Joyce Center … the lone five-game affair between the schools came in the 1990 Rhode Island Invitational in Providence, with the Irish prevailing 16-14 for their first-ever win over Syracuse … the teams had met just twice prior to Notre Dame’s joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995 … the schools also played in the 1996 BIG EAST tournament, with the Irish winning in three games … Notre Dame has won 37 of the 44 games, including 33 of the 35 in the BIG EAST era and 14 in a row heading into this postseason … the Irish have registered 3-0 wins in each of the last four matches … New York has produced five Irish volleyball players, making it one of just six states to do so … in the first BIG EAST contest (10/20/95) between the teams, Notre Dame’s Angie Harris served up nine aces, which still stands as the top performance for an Irish player in any length match, even though she accomplished the feat in just three games … in 1996, the Irish made just one service error, which is tied for the fewest ever for a Notre Dame team in a match … the Irish won by 37 points in 2001 at the Joyce Center, which is tied for the third-largest margin of victory for Notre Dame in the 30-point format … junior Lauren Kelbley is averaging 2.77 kills and 1.77 blocks per game against Syracuse, including a .327 attack percentage … senior Emily Loomis is averaging 3.08 kills, 1.33 digs, and 1.33 blocks to go with a .272 hitting mark … junior Lauren Brewster has 2.77 kills, 2.00 blocks, and 0.33 aces per game vs. Syracuse … junior Meg Henican is averaging 4.67 digs against the Orange.
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 339-117 (.744) mark, while holding a 456-200 (.695) 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 13 regular-season conference titles (4 Midwestern Collegiate, 9 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.
BIG EAST AWARDS: Notre Dame has a number of candidates for the BIG EAST Conference yearly awards, which will be announced on Friday at the annual league banquet. The honors presented, all determined by votes of conference head coaches, will be Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Libero of the Year, and three teams of all-conference selections (first team, second team, honorable mention with six players on each). Notre Dame has had a history of success in the BIG EAST awards in its nine previous seasons in the league. Head coach Debbie Brown has been tabbed the conference’s top coach four times (1995, 2000, ’01, `03), while she has seen her players earn player-of-the-year honors six times (every year but ’98, ’02, and `03, most recently Malinda Goralski in 2001). Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) was the league’s best rookie in 2002, while 32 players have earned all-conference honors, including 20 on the first team (more than one-third of the total spots on the first team during the span). Among current Irish players, OPP/OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) was a first-team selection in `02 and a second-team honoree in `03, while Kelbley was the opposite, gaining second-team accolades in 2003 and first-team last season. Junior Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) was honorable mention all-league as a rookie before being a first-team selection in `03.
IRISH CLIMB TO 20th IN RKPI: After not dropping a game in claiming two wins last weekend, Notre Dame moved up three spots to 20th in the Rich Kern Percentage Index (RKPI), which approximates the NCAA’s RPI formula. The Irish — who passed Illinois, Santa Clara, and Long Beach State this week — are by far the top team in the AVCA Northeast Region, with Pittsburgh coming in second at 42nd. Boston College is 70th and Syracuse 81st.
BREWSTER CRANKS CAREER-HIGH 27 KILLS vs. NORTHERN IOWA: In picking up the slack for the injured Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.), junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) slammed a career-best 27 kills on Tuesday against Northern Iowa. She did it on a career-high 55 swings for a .273 hitting percentage, while flirting with a triple-double (nine digs, eight blocks). Brewster’s kill total was the most for an Irish player since Christi Girton had 31 vs. Connecticut in 2000.
BREWSTER, KELBLEY LEAD MAJOR IRISH PRESENCE IN BIG EAST LEADERS: Juniors MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) and OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) are leading an Irish contingent that has representatives among the top 10 in all of the 14 official statistical categories. Brewster and Kelbley are both listed in the leaders in three different categories in both overall and conference action, a distinction shared by only one other player in the league, Ashleigh Young of Rutgers. In league action, Brewster finished first in blocks (1.66), second in hitting percentage (.326), and sixth in points (4.75), while Kelbley was fifth in points (4.77), eighth in hitting percentage (.278), and 10th in kills (3.92). In overall action, Brewster is first in blocks (1.47), fourth in points (4.69), and sixth in hitting percentage (.315), while Kelbley is fifth in aces (0.34), seventh in points (4.42), and 10th in kills (3.66).
BREWSTER RANKS AS TOP DEFENSIVE MIDDLE IN BIG EAST: Although she is also one of Notre Dame’s top offensive weapons, junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) has established herself as easily the top defensive middle blocker/hitter in the BIG EAST Conference. In fact, with her averages of 1.48 blocks and 2.16 digs per game, she is THE ONLY player in the conference — at any position — to be averaging more than 1.00 blocks and 1.00 digs per game. She is by far the best in combined block and dig average, at 3.65. Georgetown’s Sara Albert is next at 2.29 (1.42 blocks, 0.87 digs), and West Virginia’s Alison Zemanski ranks third at 2.19 (1.46 blocks, 0.73 digs). Preseason Player of the Year Megan Miller of Pittsburgh, the top offensive middle in the league, has a combined block-dig average of 1.70 per game (0.93 blocks, 0.77 digs). In fact, Brewster is one of only three middle hitters/blockers in Division I to be averaging 1.00+ blocks and 2.00+ digs per game, joining Texas A&M’s Melissa Munsch and Salaia Salave’a of Nevada.
HENICAN, IRISH CONTINUE REIGN AS BIG EAST’S TOP DEFENSE: Notre Dame’s defense, led by junior captain L Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.), established itself as the finest in the BIG EAST Conference for the sixth consecutive season. Since the league began tracking opponent hitting percentage in 1999, the Irish have finished first in the category all five years. This season, Notre Dame holds a hefty advantage heading into the final weekend, as the Irish allowed BIG EAST foes to manage a hitting mark of only .134. The next-best performance was .174 by Syracuse.
IRISH WELL-REPRESENTED IN BIG EAST WEEKLY AWARDS: Notre Dame players have regularly been recognized by the conference office this season, as Irish competitors have garnered a total of six weekly honors, including one in four consecutiv weeks from Oct. 11-Nov. 1. Notre Dame is the only school to have multiple players — juniors MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) and L Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) — be named the BIG EAST Player of the Week, and also stands as the lone institution to have three different student-athletes earn weekly honors, as OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) was the league’s rookie of the week on Oct. 11 and 18. Brewster was a three-time player of the week.
BREWSTER, IRISH CONTINUE DOMINANT BLOCKING: Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) and Notre Dame’s blocking game have once again been a key to Notre Dame’s success. After leading the nation in team blocking in 2003 — thanks largely to Brewster being tops in Division I in individual blocking — the Irish are tops in the BIG EAST and 10th nationally in blocking this season, with an average of 3.28 per game. Notre Dame is nearly one-half block per game better than the rest of the conference, as Syracuse ranks second in the BIG EAST with an average of 2.77.
HENICAN ON PACE TO SHATTER IRISH SEASON DIGS RECORD: Junior captain L Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) is in the midst of one of the most impressive defensive seasons ever for an Irish player. She is averaging 4.67 digs per game, putting her on pace to shatter the Irish record for season dig average, which is 4.10 by Christy Peters in 1993. Henican already has 430 digs this season, which is the third-highest single-season total in school history and just 70 shy of Peters’ school-record 500 from that season.
LOOMIS HITS 1,200 CAREER KILLS: Senior OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) cranked a kill on Notre Dame’s second match point on Nov. 5 to hand the Irish a four-game win against Connecticut. That kill was the 1,200th of Loomis’ career, making her just the eighth player in school history to reach that number. Loomis, who ranks in the top 10 in program history in 11 different categories, heads into this weekend with 1,242 kills and ranking seventh on the all-time list. Next up on that list for Loomis is 2000 graduate Christi Girton, who had 1,286 kills.
HENICAN BECOMES NINTH IRISH PLAYER WITH 1,000 DIGS: On Nov. 14 vs. West Virginia, junior captain L Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) finished with 24 digs in three games to become the ninth player in school history — and first since 1998 — to hit the 1,000-career-dig plateau. She currently stands seventh on the all-time list at 1,032, with Angie Harris (`97) next up at 1,043).
BREWSTER-LED IRISH SNAP #14 UTAH’S SCHOOL-RECORD WINNING STREAK: Behind 18 kills on .567 hitting from junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.), Notre Dame swept #14 Utah on Oct. 19 in Salt Lake City to snap the Utes’ 12-match winning streak, which was the longest in school history, and deal them a home loss for the first time in more than a year. The Utes had not lost since Sept. 7 and were riding a winning streak that had featured victories against both #6 UCLA and #7 Colorado State. The Irish win snapped Utah’s 13-match home winning streak and marked its first home defeat since a 3-1 decision against Colorado State on Sept. 27, 2003. Notre Dame beat a ranked team in three games for the first time since 1995, when the seventh-ranked Irish topped #15 Colorado by 3-0 scores on back-to-back nights in the Joyce Center on Sept. 23 and 24. It was just the second time in school history — in addition to beating #21 Hawai’i on Oct. 22, 1992 — that the Irish beat a ranked team in three games on their home court.
BREWSTER BECOMING THE TOTAL PACKAGE: After a 2003 campaign in which she led the BIG EAST in hitting percentage and blocks and was tops in Division I in the latter category en route to being a first-team all-conference and all-region selection, as well as an honorable mention AVCA All-American, junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) has followed that up with a 2004 season in which she has become a more complete player. While still averaging about 3.60 kills and over 1.50 blocks a game on .310+ hitting, her third collegiate season has seen Brewster’s defensive and serving production rise. In 2003, she rarely played when her position rotated into the back row, instead subbing out for the libero or a defensive specialist. But in `04, Brewster’s increased defensive skills have earned her more back-row time, which has translated into more than a 300% increase in her digging. Brewster is one of four Irish players averaging over 2.00 digs per game in 2004, coming in with 2.16, after she averaged only 0.68 as a sophomore. In her first two seasons combined, Brewster accumulated 130 total digs and her career high was seven, but she already has 194 in 24 matches in `04, including 11 matches over her previous career-best total. Her serving also has improved in both consistency and potency. She has 25 aces this season for an average of 0.28 per game that is third on the team. Brewster has committed just 27 errors for an ace-to-error ratio of 0.94. In 2003, she turned in 27 aces the entire season, while making 42 errors for a ratio of just 0.64.
HENICAN, STASIUK ANCHOR STELLAR SERVE-RECEIVING UNIT: Notre Dame’s serve-receiving unit, which is anchored by junior captain L Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) and freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.), has proven to be one of the best in Irish history. Opponents are averaging just 0.98 service aces per game in 2004, an average that trails only the number posted by last year’s squad, which also was led by Henican. In 2003, opponents averaged just 0.94 aces per game. Stasiuk has made just 39 receiving errors this season, or one in every 2.31 games. Henican has been even more solid, committing only 27 reception errors, an average of one in every 3.33 games. Only four times in 24 matches this season has Henican made multiple reception errors.
TOUGH LOSS: Notre Dame’s 30-14, 30-22, 30-28 loss to Boston College on Sunday was notable in a number of ways. It was the Eagles’ first-ever win against the Irish after taking just a single game in 10 prior meetings. It also ended Notre Dame’s streak of 58 consecutive home regular-season victories in BIG EAST play since joining the league in 1995. It was the first regular-season home league loss of any kind since 1990 (Oct. 24, Butler, 3-2), snapping a streak of 74 victories in a row. BC became the first team since 1984 (Oct. 10, Loyola Chicago) to sweep the Irish in a home regular-season conference match. The Eagles’ 26-point margin of victory was the most for any team against the Irish since the current rally-scoring format was adopted in 2001 and the most overall since Dec. 27, 1999, when #5 Pacific beat the Irish 15-9, 15-0, 15-4. The 16-point margin of defeat in the opening game matched the worst output for Notre Dame since the advent of rally scoring (also 30-14 in second game vs. Northern Iowa on Oct. 17, 2001. BC became the first team to hit over .300 (.305) against Notre Dame this season, and its first-game output of .464 is tops for an Irish opponent in a game. The Eagles made just 10 attack errors after no Notre Dame foe had made fewer than 18 in a match in 2004.
HENICAN’S 37 DIGS BREAK 12-YEAR-OLD SCHOOL RECORD: Irish junior libero and captain Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) broke the 12-year-old school record for most digs in any-length match by registering 37 in a four-game affair at Seton Hall on Oct. 10. Henican dug just four Pirate attack attempts in the first game, but then scrambled for a dozen in game two, 11 in the third game, and 10 in the final frame to end up with a total 11 better than her previous career high (26 vs. Sacramento State in the Cal Poly Invitational on Sept. 11). Her performance – an average of 9.25 digs per game – broke the school record of 36 digs, done by Christy Peters on Sept. 5, 1992, against Kentucky in a five-game match. The previous Irish record for digs in a four-game match was 35 by Jessica Fiebelkorn, set that same month, on Sept. 18, 1992, at Purdue. No player had managed even 30 digs in any-length match since a 31-dig performance by Peters in 1993 at Arizona State.
BREWSTER TABBED BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE WEEK FOR SIXTH TIME: Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) was named the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week on Monday for the third time this season and sixth time in her career. Last weekend, she led the Irish to a pair of 3-0 wins that clinched their ninth BIG EAST regular-season title. She was near perfect on offense, making just two errors, while averaging 4.17 kills on .469 hitting to go with 3.17 digs, and 2.17 blocks. Brewster had 12 kills on 22 errorless swings for a .545 hitting mark vs. Pittsburgh, barely missing a triple-double by ending with 12 digs and eight blocks. She then had 13 kills on .407 hitting and seven digs against West Virginia. Brewster’s second honor came on Oct. 25 after helping Notre Dame to a pair of victories, including a sweep of #14 Utah on the Utes’ home floor to snap their school-record 12-match winning streak. The Brentwood, Tenn., native was the catalyst of that upset, notching 18 kills on .567 hitting to lead Notre Dame to its third win against a top-15 foe in as many seasons. In three matches last week, Brewster converted half of her attack attempts for kills, ending with 44 (4.00 per game) on a .409 hitting percentage. She added 22 digs, an average of 2.00 per game, and 10 blocks to go with 52.5 points (4.77). Her performance last Tuesday in Salt Lake City was further accentuated by the fact that she did it against a strong Utah defense that came into the match ranked eighth in the nation in blocking and holding opponents to just .129 hitting. It took her only 30 swings to notch 18 kills in the contest, and she added seven digs and a match-high 20 points in helping Notre Dame sweep a ranked opponent on its home floor for just the second time in school history. The match also marked Utah’s first home loss in more than a year. The following night saw Brewster lead the Irish in kills again, finishing with 14 in a 3-2 loss at Brigham Young. She notched her sixth double-double of the season and the 12th of her career, ending up with 11 digs, while adding three blocks and an ace for a total of 17 points. On Sunday, Brewster slammed a match-high 12 kills on .435 hitting in helping the Irish to a three-game sweep of St. John’s in front of 2,086 fans in Notre Dame’s BIG EAST home opener. She also took part in six of the 10 Irish blocks to finish with a match-best 15.5 points, while adding four digs. On Sept. 13, Brewster gained the honor 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. Brewster, who also was named the BIG EAST’s top player three times during October of 2003, joins outside hitter Angie Harris (’98) as the only Irish players ever to be named the BIG EAST Player of the Week five times during their careers. Brewster also was the league’s top rookie once in 2002. For the second year in a row, the former “Fab 40” standout for Impact Volleyball Club has established herself as one of the frontrunners for BIG EAST Player of the Year. She is one of only two players (also Pittsburgh middle hitter Megan Miller) to have been named the player of the week on multiple occasions in 2004, and is the only player that ranks among the BIG EAST leaders in four different categories: blocks (2nd), points (4th), hitting percentage (6th), and kills (10th). In conference matches, Brewster is tops in the league in hitting (.387) and ranks third in blocks (1.62), and seventh in points (4.92).
HENICAN BECOMES JUST SECOND LIBERO TO BE NAMED BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Junior captain and libero Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) was named the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week on Nov. 1 after helping Notre Dame to a pair of 3-0 road victories in league action over the weekend. Henican, just the second libero ever to win the award, averaged 6.33 digs per game – including 26 against Villanova on Sunday – in leading a defensive effort that held opponents to a .116 attack percentage. No libero had been named the BIG EAST Player of the Week since the inclusion of the position in the college game, beginning in 2002, until Allison Anderson of Boston College did so on Oct. 11 of this season. The award made Notre Dame the first school to have two different players win the honor this season, as junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) is a two-time honoree. The Irish also are the lone team to have three different players be tabbed for conference weekly honors in 2004, as freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) was the Rookie of the Week in back-to-back weeks last month. Brewster won the player-of-the-week distinction last week, making Notre Dame the first school to pick up that honor in back-to-back weeks.
BREWSTER, STASIUK NOTCH TRIPLE-DOUBLES vs. ILLINOIS STATE: Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) and freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) both notched triple-doubles in Notre Dame’s five-game victory against Illinois State on Wednesday. Stasiuk clinched hers in the third game and ended with 14 kills, 11 digs, and 11 blocks, while Brewster finished with 17 kills, 13 digs, and 11 blocks. It was the second time this season that a Division I team had multiple triple-doubles in the same match (Dartmouth’s Kathryn Hirsch and Elise Krieger did it against Army on Sept. 17), but the accomplishment of dual triple-doubles that do not include assists is extremely rare. Since 2002, teams in Division I had featured multiple triple-doubles nine times, but none of the players involved in those sported 10+ blocks, as all of them checked in with double-digit assists. Of all the triple-doubles in Division I in 2004, only three previously had consisted of kills, digs, and blocks. Prior to Wednesday, no Irish player had registered a triple-double since Dec. 4, 1998, when a pair of Notre Dame competitors also accomplished the feat. In that match, a four-game, NCAA first-round win over Eastern Washington, Kristy Kreher, then just a rookie, had 24 kills on .541 hitting to go with 14 digs and 14 assists, while senior Lindsay Treadwell registered 11 kills, 16 digs, and 10 blocks.
BROWN NOTCHES 450TH CAREER VICTORY IN UPSET OF #14 UTAH: Notre Dame head coach Debbie Brown, in her 20th year as a collegiate head coach, claimed her 450th career victory when the Irish upset #14 Utah 3-0 in Salt Lake City on Oct. 19. Brown, who sports a 451-198 (.695) joined an elite club of just 31 active Division I coaches who have registered 450+ victories as head coaches. Only three coaches in that group (Alabama’s Judy Green-19th, Arkansas’ Chris Poole-19th, Florida’s Mary Wise-18th) have coached for fewer seasons than Brown. The 14th-year Irish mentor (after six seasons at Arizona State) came into the season ranking 22nd among active Division I coaches in winning percentage.
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.
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.
KELBLEY BECOMES FIRST ND PLAYER IN NEARLY FOUR YEARS TO NOTCH 25+ KILLS: Junior OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) had a career-best 25 kills on Oct. 10 at Seton Hall. She took the lion’s share of swings, ending with just eight attack errors on a career-high 56 attempts for a .304 percentage and 26 points. Kelbley started slowly, converting 10 attempts into only three kills in the first game. But she rebounded to have eight kills on .353 hitting in the following frame and then notch seven kills apiece in each of the final two games, hitting better than .305 on both occasions. It marked the second time in four matches that Kelbley set her career high (after tying it once earlier this season). She had 24 kills at Michigan on Sept. 28 to better her previous best output by two. It also was the most kills for an Irish player since Oct. 29, 2000, when Christi Girton notched 31 in a five-game victory at Connecticut.
STASIUK REPEATS AS BIG EAST ROOKIE OF THE WEEK: Freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) became the first Irish player ever to be named the BIG EAST Conference Rookie of the Week in consecutive weeks earlier this month. She was first honored on Oct. 11 after helping Notre Dame to a pair of conference victories on the road against Rutgers and Seton Hall. The Park Ridge, Ill., native averaged 3.43 kills per game on a .302 hitting mark, while contributing 3.29 digs to an Irish defense that held its opponents to an attack percentage of only .166. The opposite won the Oct. 18 award after becoming the first Irish student-athlete since 1998 to register a triple-double, as she finished with 14 kills, 11 digs, and a collegiate-high 11 blocks in Notre Dame’s five-game victory over Illinois State, the lone Irish match of the week. She clinched the triple-double in the third game and added a pair of service aces, including one to end the marathon second game (34-32). She matched her season high with 21.5 points and more than doubled her previous collegiate high in blocks, which was five. Stasiuk, who was named to Volleyball magazine’s elite “Fab 50” list of the top prep players in the nation last year, is the seventh Notre Dame player ever to be honored as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Week. The last Irish student-athlete to be so tabbed was current junior Lauren Brewster, who earned the accolade on Oct. 28, 2002. With the awards, Stasiuk has put herself into early position to be a major contender for BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, as only one other player in the conference – Pittsburgh outside hitter Diana Andreyko – has won the weekly honor multiple times in 2004. Only two other Notre Dame players have ever won the BIG EAST’s Rookie-of-the-Week award on multiple occasions, as current junior Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) did so in 2002 en route to being tabbed the conference (and AVCA Northeast Region) rookie of the year, and Mary Leffers was twice honored in 1996.
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.
KELBLEY HITS 20-KILL PLATEAU FOR SECOND STRAIGHT MATCH: Junior OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) registered a match-high 20 kills against Illinois State on Oct. 13, marking the second match in a row in which she has had 20 or more kills. On Oct. 10 at Seton Hall, Kelbley became the first Irish player in nearly four years to register 25 kills. It marked the first time in more than two years that an Irish player had 20+ kills in consecutive matches, as current senior Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) accomplished the feat against Connecticut (20) on Sept. 27, 2002, and matched that total two days later vs. St. John’s. Kelbley also had 24 kills at Michigan on Sept. 28 and 22 vs. Valparaiso on Sept. 7.
BREWSTER’S STREAK OF MATCHES WITH 11+ KILLS ENDS AT 15: Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) managed only nine kills last Saturday at Georgetown, which ended her streak of consecutive matches with double-digit kills at 15. It stands as the fourth-longest streak of matches with 10+ kills in Irish history.
BREWSTER BOASTING A PAIR OF und.com PRIMETIME PERFORMANCES: Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) is in an elite group of Notre Dame student-athletes to have already been twice honored in the inaugural season of und.com Primetime Performances, which recognize the top few performances by Irish student-athletes each week. Brewster initially earned the honor — along with freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) — on Oct. 18 after both players notched triple-doubles (the first for Notre Dame since 1998) against Illinois State. Brewster gained the honor again on Oct. 25 after a week in which she had 18 kills on .567 hitting in helping Notre Dame to a 3-0 upset of #14 Utah on the Utes’ home floor. Junior L Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) gained the honor on Nov. 15 after averaging 8.17 digs in helping Notre Dame to sweeps of Pittsburgh and West Virginia en route to the BIG EAST regular-season title.
IRISH UPSET A TOP-15 FOE FOR THIRD STRAIGHT SEASON: Notre Dame’s 3-0 upset of #14 Utah in Salt Lake City on Oct. 19 marked the third consecutive season that Notre Dame has upset a top-15 squad. Last year, the Irish notched a four-game win in a neutral-site match against #10 Arizona, and the ’02 team beat #10 Pepperdine 3-2 in the final of the Golden Dome Invitational.
STASIUK FLIRTS WITH SCHOOL HITTING RECORD vs. ST. JOHN’S: Freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) was extremely efficient in the 3-0 win against St. John’s on Sunday, ending up with 11 kills on just 14 swings for a .643 attack percentage. For a time, she was challenging the school record for hitting in a match (.923 by Mary Kay Waller vs. DePaul in 1986), as she finished game two with 11 kills and no errors on 12 attempts, a mark of .917. She then was blocked and committed an error on her only two swings in the final game. Stasiuk’s hitting mark was a collegiate high for her, besting her previous high (.458 vs. Sacramento State) by nearly .200. It also stands as the second-best hitting mark by any Notre Dame player in ’04.
NOTRE DAME WINS FIVE STRAIGHT FOR 14TH CONSECUTIVE SEASON: Notre Dame won five matches in a row from Oct. 2-19, defeating Syracuse, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Illinois State, and #14 Utah. This is the 14th consecutive season — a span that covers every year since head coach Debbie Brown took over the program — in which the Irish have had a winning streak of at least five matches.
TV STARS: The Oct. 20 match against Brigham Young was televised live by BYU Television, marking the third time in an eight-match span that the Irish were on TV. It also was the fourth time in less than a year that Notre Dame has been televised. Most recently, the Sept. 28 match between Notre Dame and Michigan was televised by Comcast Sports Local and shown on a tape-delayed basis in southeast Michigan. That 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 week also marks the fourth the third time in the last 23 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.
IRISH NOTCH 100TH BIG EAST REGULAR-SEASON VICTORY: Notre Dame’s 3-0 victory at Rutgers on Oct. 9 was its 100th in BIG EAST regular-season action. Since joining the conference in 1995, the Irish currently w hold a 107-6 (.947) record, including 60-1 (.988) in the Joyce Center. Notre Dame joined Pittsburgh (109-38) as the only schools to have won 100 BIG EAST matches. The Irish are just two victories behind the Panthers in conference wins even though Pittsburgh competed in the BIG EAST for five more seasons than Notre Dame.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 163-27 (.859) 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 had won 74 consecutive regular-season conference matches (58-0 vs. the BIG EAST) in the Joyce Center, with its last defeat coming in 1990, before a loss to Boston College on Nov. 7. The Irish, who have topped 13 ranked teams – including four top-10 squads – at home, also hold a 156-8 (.945) 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.
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 104-5 (.953) regular-season mark, highlighted by eight titles and winning streaks of 45 and 35 consecutive matches. Notre Dame is 57-0 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 seven 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 regular-season schedule concludes with the broadcasts of the Pittsburgh and Northern Iowa. 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.