Oct. 30, 2004
Notre Dame (11-6, 4-0) vs. Georgetown (13-10, 1-4)
Saturday, October 30, 2 p.m. â€¢ McDonough Gym
Notre Dame vs. Villanova (7-14, 1-4)
Sunday, October 31, 1 p.m. â€¢ Jake Nevin Fieldhouse
– Live Internet Audio: sports.yahoo.com/top/collegebroadcast/teams/vae
IRISH LOOK TO STAY PERFECT IN BIG EAST PLAY THIS WEEKEND: The University of Notre Dame women’s volleyball team (11-6, 4-0), which has won 10 of its last 13 matches, will try to remain perfect in BIG EAST Conference action this weekend, as it travels to Georgetown (13-10, 1-4) on Saturday for a 2 p.m. (EDT) contest before playing at Villanova (7-14, 1-4) on Sunday at 1 p.m. (EST). The Irish are currently in a three-way tie atop the league standings with a 4-0 record, a mark shared by Connecticut and fellow defending BIG EAST co-champion Pittsburgh.
THE RADIO PLANS: Sunday’s match against Villanova will feature live internet audio available to subscribers of Yahoo! Sports College Broadcasts at http://sports.yahoo.com/top/collegebroadcast/teams/vae. A one-month subscription to the service is available for $4.95.
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 334-115 (.744) 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 102-5 (.953) in regular-season BIG EAST play and 17-2 (.895) in conference tournament action. Notre Dame is 57-0 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 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 11th with 1,170 and has a chance to move up three spots this weekend and 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, where she has played in the last seven matches. Junior MB Lauren Brewster 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 (.320). 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, is the only player to be listed among the BIG EAST leaders in four different categories, and she has been the league’s player of the week twice this season. She leads the Irish in points (310.5/4.70), attack percentage (.323), and blocks (93/1.41). Brewster, who had a triple-double against Illinois State (17 kills, 13 digs, 11 blocks) currently has had 11+ kills in 15 consecutive matches, which is the fourth-longest streak of double-digit-kill performances in school history (she could tie the second-longest string — and longest single-season streak in Irish history — this weekend). 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 kills (241/3.65), Kelbley has had 15 or more kills eight 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 1.58 per game as a starter, and the team is averaging 3.60. 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. 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 three 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) began the season starting at outside hitter, but injuries forced her into the libero jersey. In 11 matches in the spot, she is averaging 4.62 digs per game. 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. Earlier this season, she had 26 digs in three games against Sacramento State, establishing the second-best performance ever 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. Her 3.47 career dig average is the second-best mark in Irish history, and she has hit the 20-dig plateau five times this season, while failing to notch 15 digs only four times in 17 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.
LAST TIME ON THE COURT: Notre Dame went 2-1 last week, first sweeping #14 Utah on its home court on Tuesday before falling in five games the following day at Brigham Young. The Irish rebounded on Sunday with a 3-0 win against St. John’s in their BIG EAST home opener. Notre Dame held leads of eight or more in every game en route to a convincing road sweep (30-26, 30-24, 30-25) of #14 Utah (15-3). The Irish, who got 18 kills on .567 hitting from junior middle blocker Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.), snapped the Utes’ school-record 12-match winning streak and handed them their first home loss in more than a year. Brewster led all players in kills and made just one attack error on 30 attempts. She also ended with a match-high 20 points. Notre Dame’s other junior middle blocker, Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas/Lutheran South Academy), turned in one of the best matches of her career. She notched a career-high seven kills and made just one error for a .353 hitting percentage. Cooper, who matched her career high with 17 attempts, also had 12 points, which was three more than her previous career best. She was the match’s most effective blocker, taking part in a match-high six, including notching a career-best total of four solo blocks that was just one shy of the school record for a three-game match. Cooper helped the Irish win the battle of two of the best 20 blocking teams in Division I. Notre Dame, which was 19th in Division I, finished with 10 blocks, while the Utes – who had been ninth with an average of 3.28 blocks – had eight (2.67 per game). Senior OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) was another major contributor for the Irish, notching three solo blocks. Notre Dame’s blocking was a key factor in holding Utah to a .169 hitting percentage for the match. In fact, none of the Utes’ hitters hit better than .273 for the contest. The Irish also had 49 digs, with junior captain L Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) leading the way with 10 and junior OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) matching her career high with nine. One day later, Notre Dame could not hold on to a two-games-to-one advantage, eventually falling 29-31, 30-23, 20-30, 30-26, 15-11 to Brigham Young (11-8) in front of a crowd of 1,693. After the Irish won the first point of the decisive game, BYU captured the next six to take a commanding lead. The Irish would pull back to within two at 12-10 and 13-11, but a block by Lauren Richards and Lindsy Hartsock and then the 18th kill of the match by Kim Wilson handed Brigham Young the match. BYU ended the final game with four blocks and eight kills on .333 hitting. Notre Dame used a balanced offensive attack, but Brewster led the team with 14 kills. Loomis hit well, finishing with 13 kills and only two errors for a team-best .333 hitting percentage. Freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.), who also had a match-high three service aces, notched 13 kills, as well, while Kelbley notched a dozen. Brigham Young notched a .254 hitting percentage, but 12 of the 30 Cougar attack errors came on Irish blocks. Cooper was Notre Dame’s leader, taking part in half of them.Henican led the floor game with 15 digs. The Irish ended up hitting just .165 on the match, despite a .375 mark in the opening game. A major factor in that was BYU’s defense, which notched 16 blocks (accounting for more than half of the 30 Notre Dame attack errors) and dug up 74 balls. Notre Dame turned in its best offensive performance of the season, hitting over .330 in every game and finishing with a .356 attack percentage en route to a 30-16, 30-17, 30-20 triumph against St. John’s (14-9, 0-4 BIG EAST) before a crowd of 2,086 in the Joyce Center. Among the highlights for the Irish was near-perfect hitting by Stasiuk through the first two games. Notre Dame had its most consistent offensive match of the 2004 campaign and ended up with 49 kills and a season-low 13 errors. Freshman Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) and junior Kelly Burrell (Phoenix, Ariz./Xavier Preparatory School) set Notre Dame to hitting percentages above .300 in every game, a first for the 2004 squad. Stasiuk was extremely efficient for the Irish, 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. Brewster led all players in kills with 12 on 23 attempts for a .435 hitting mark. She also led all players with 15.5 points. Loomis hit double digits in kills for the fourth time in five matches, using an impressive third game to finish with 10 on a .304 hitting mark. In the final stanza, she slammed seven kills on 13 errorless swings for a .538 attack percentage. Though Notre Dame’s offense was the big story, its defense also was exceptional. The Irish held St. John’s to negative hitting through two games and a .048 attack percentage for the match. The Red Storm ended with 34 kills and 28 errors, with 10 of them coming on Notre Dame blocks. The most impressive aspect of the Irish defense was its ability to shut down SJU outside hitter Jackie Ahlers, a first-team all-BIG EAST and honorable mention All-America selection in 2003. Ahlers, who came into the week leading the conference and ranking eighth in Division I in kills (5.56 per game), had just six kills and nine errors – with eight of those coming on Notre Dame blocks – for a -.130 hitting mark. She came into the week with a .322 hitting percentage that was seventh in the conference leaders. Ahlers also was tops in the BIG EAST in points, averaging 6.03 per game, but she managed only 6.5 in the entire match on Sunday. Brewster paced Notre Dame’s block, taking part in six of them, including a solo stuff of an Ahlers attempt in the third game. Loomis, Kelbley, and Cooper took part in four apiece. The Irish outdug their opponents for the first time in four matches, ending with a 46-36 advantage in that department to extend their winning streak to 25 matches in a row when outdigging their opponents. Henican paced Notre Dame with 10 digs, while Stasiuk added nine and sophomore DS Danielle Herndon (Plant City, Fla./Durant H.S.) added eight. In all, 11 different Notre Dame players registered digs.
SCOUTING GEORGETOWN: The Hoyas currently stand 13-10 on the season and are tied for seventh in the BIG EAST with a 1-4 mark in conference action. Georgetwon began the season 6-1, but then lost five of its next seven prior to winning five of seven heading into last weekend. The Hoyas beat Villanove 3-0 for their lone conference victory to go with losses at Boston College (3-2), Connecticut (3-0), and Pittsburgh (3-0). GU holds a 7-0 record this season in McDonough Gym. The Irish and Hoyas have not played any common opponents. Georgetown was picked to finish seventh in the BIG EAST this season by the league’s coaches. The match will be a contest between two of the best serving teams in the conference, as the Hoyas rank second in the league leaders with 1.80 service aces per game, and the Irish are third at 1.70. Junior OH Ashley Lancaster is the BIG EAST’s most prolific server, averaging 0.42 per game (2nd in league play at 0.50). Hoya senior MB Sara Albert is tops in hitting percentage with a .381 mark, and she and Irish junior MB Lauren Brewster are the most efficient hitters in BIG EAST matches this season. Brewster’s .387 attack percentage in four conference titles ranks first, while Albert is next at .378. Georgetown, which returned five starters, already has surpassed its victory total from last season, when the Hoyas were 9-19 and tied for 10th in the BIG EAST with a 3-9 mark. GU led the league in service aces in league play with 2.05 per game, while Albert, tabbed honorable mention all-conference, was 46th in Division I with a .356 hitting percentage. Li Liu is in her sixth season leading the Hoyas, having posted a 96-69 (.582) record.
IRISH-HOYAS SERIES NOTES: The Irish and Hoyas will meet for the 10th consecutive season and 15th time overall … Notre Dame has won all but one of the previous contests, including each of the last five … in 2003, the 17th-ranked Irish won 30-20, 30-23, 30-14 in the Joyce Center … this will be Notre Dame’s sixth trip to Washington, where it is unbeaten … the teams have twice played five-game matches, with the Irish prevailing in both (1999 and 2001 BIG EAST semifinals) … the lone victory for Georgetown was a 15-11, 15-10, 15-8 triumph in the title match of the 1999 BIG EAST Championship in Pittsburgh, which made the Hoyas the first team (and still one of only two) to defeat Notre Dame in the BIG EAST tournament … the schools played twice before the Irish became a member of the BIG EAST … the Irish won 15-1, 15-6, 10-15, 15-6 in Washington in 1986 in the first-ever meeting and then were victorious again in four games in the 1992 William & Mary Invitational … Notre Dame, ranked 10th, took the first BIG EAST meeting 15-11, 15-3, 15-6 in ’95 … the teams have played three times in the BIG EAST Championship at Pittsburgh, with the Irish winning in 1998 (3-0) and in 2001 (3-2, 15-11 in the fifth) … Georgetown’s ’99 win snapped an eight-match losing streak against the Irish … Notre Dame has won 39 of the 50 games, including each of the last eight … Irish junior Lauren Kelbley has been a Hoya killer, averaging 4.17 kills on .657 hitting (just two errors on 35 swings) to go with 1.33 blocks and 4.83 points in two previous contests against GU … Lauren Brewster is averaging 3.67 kills on .357 hitting, plus 1.50 blocks, 0.83 aces, and 5.33 points vs. the Hoyas, while senior Emily Loomis has posted 3.40 kills on .305 hitting to go with 2.00 digs, 1.00 blocks, and 4.10 points in four contests with Georgetown.
SCOUTING VILLANOVA: The Wildcats head into the weekend at 7-14 on the season and tied for seventh in the BIG EAST with a 1-4 record. Villanova will play host to Syracuse on Saturday afternoon before welcoming the Irish. The Wildcats have won three of their last four matches, having won consecutive 3-2 affairs against Temple and West Virginia last week and then bouncing back from a loss against Pittsburgh by sweeping Wagner on Tuesday. VU won three straight matches early in the season, but has since lost 11 of 15. The Wildcats, like the Irish, have been on the road for the majority of the 2004 campaign, playing 16 of their first 20 matches away from home. They are 5-0 at home and just 2-14 in venues other than Jake Nevin Fieldhouse. In league action, Villanova’s victory was a five-game decision at West Virginia last weekend (15-12 in the fifth), while it has dropped matches at Connecticut (3-1), Boston College (3-2), Georgetown (3-0), and Pittsburgh (3-0). The Wildcats also lost 3-1 to UConn and 3-2 against Rutgers earlier this month in non-conference action in the BIG EAST Challenge. Villanova ranks second in league play in digs, averaging 21.15 per game, while junior Celine Nguyen is third in individual digs (5.65) in conference action. The Wildcats, who were picked to finish fifth in the BIG EAST by the conference coaches, returned five starters from last year’s squad that finished 14-15 and tied for fourth in the BIG EAST with a 7-5 record. VU earned a spot in the BIG EAST Championship for the first time since 1997 and lost 3-0 to Pittsburgh in the league semifinals. Gilad Doron, formerly the coach of the Philadelphia Volleyball Academy, is in his first season leading the Wildcat program.
IRISH-WILDCATS SERIES NOTES: The Irish and Wildcats will meet for the 10th consecutive season and 13th time overall … Notre Dame has won all 12 previous contests, including a 33-35, 30-16, 30-26, 30-15 match in 2003 … this will be the sixth trip to Villanova for the Irish … the teams once played a five-game match, as 12th-ranked Notre Dame rallied from a 2-0 deficit to prevail (15-12 in the fifth) in 1996 in the Joyce Center … the schools met once prior to the Irish becoming a BIG EAST member in 1995: Notre Dame won 15-7, 16-14, 15-4 in 1982 at Villanova … ND and VU have played twice in the BIG EAST Championship, with the Irish triumphing in three games in the semifinals in 1995 in the Joyce Center and in four in the title match in 1997 … the latter contest, played in South Orange, N.J., saw Villanova take the first game before Notre Dame rallied … the Irish have won 36 of the 41 games … Notre Dame’s 12 victories against Villanova are the most without a defeat against any opponent … in 1999, the Irish turned in their third-highest hitting percentage in school history against VU, with 60 kills and just eight errors on 102 swings for a .510 mark … Villanova’s Kerri Sullivan was a second-team all-BIG EAST selection in 2003 … Irish senior Emily Loomis is averaging 3.45 kills on .410 hitting to go with 2.64 digs and 4.32 points in three matches vs. the Wildcats … Lauren Brewster is averaging 3.83 kills on .327 hitting, as well as 1.67 blocks, and 4.75 points vs. VU, while Lauren Kelbley has chipped in 3.38 kills on a .382 attack percentage, as well as 2.00 blocks and 4.88 points … Meg Henican has averaged 3.40 digs in two matches.
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 334-115 (.744) mark, while holding a 451-198 (.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 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.
FREQUENT FLYERS: This weekend finally ends a 58-day stretch in which the Irish have played 13 of 15 matches away from home. After Notre Dame started the season with four home matches, the Irish embarked on the longest midseason road trip in school history, which lasted 36 days and nine matches. Since then, the Irish were home for matches against Illionis State (Oct. 13) and St. John’s (Oct. 24), but have also played four tilts on the road. This road swing has seen Notre Dame visit seven different states (plus the District of Columbia) and 10 cities: San Luis Obispo, Calif; Columbia, S.C.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Syracuse, N.Y.; New Brunswick and South Orange, N.J.; Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah; Washington, D.C.; and Villanova, Pa. During the swing, Notre Dame traveled 13,475 miles, which is more than one-half the circumference of the earth at its equator. Following the weekend, Notre Dame will have five in a row in the Joyce Center, beginning next Friday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. (EST) with a showdown between two of the conference unbeatens, as Connecitcut comes to town.
BREWSTER TABBED PLAYER OF THE WEEK FOR SECOND TIME: Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) was named the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week on Monday after helping Notre Dame to a pair of victories last week, 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).
IRISH SNAP #14 UTAH’S SCHOOL-RECORD WINNING STREAK: 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.
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.
OFFENSE DELIVERS vs. ST. JOHN’S: Notre Dame had its most consistent offensive match of the 2004 campaign against St. John’s on Sunday, ending up with 49 kills and a season-low 13 errors for a .356 hitting percentage. Both the final hitting mark and the error totals were the best for the Irish since Nov. 15, 2003, when they made only eight errors in hitting .358 at West Virginia. Freshman Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) and junior Kelly Burrell (Phoenix, Ariz./Xavier Preparatory School) set Notre Dame to hitting percentages above .300 in every game, a first for the 2004 squad.
IRISH OFFENSE FINDING A RHYTHM: The last six matches have seen Notre Dame’s offense become more consistent, and that has translated into a 5-1 mark (17-6 in games). Since Oct. 9, the Irish are hitting .255 as a team (360 kills, 128 errors, 909 attempts) after posting just a .210 team attack percentage through the initial 11 contests of the season. After doing so just once in the first 11 matches, Notre Dame has hit better than .300 in half of the last six tilts. Additionally, in the most recent stretch, the Irish have hit below .200 in just six of 23 games, topping .300 on 11 occasions (nearly half the time) and posting a pair of .400+ hitting marks.
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.
BIG TOP DAY = BIG CROWD DAY: When Notre Dame swept St. John’s 3-0 on Sunday, a crowd of 2,086 took in the contest. The crowd – which also took part in various promotions, including Big Top Day and an Irish Spikers postmatch clinic – was the fifth-largest ever to watch a volleyball match in the Joyce Center. It was the second-largest attendance for a match not played immediately before a football pep rally, trailing only the 2,715 that saw Notre Dame sweep Miami on Nov. 9, 2003, in a match televised by College Sports Television. Sunday’s also was the largest crowd to see Notre Dame in any venue since that match with the Hurricanes. Four of the six home matches this season for the Irish have attracted more than 1,000 fans, and Notre Dame boasts an average attendance of 1,250. Heading into the match, the Irish ranked 22nd in Division I – and first in the AVCA Northeast Region – in volleyball attendance.
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, 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.
IRISH BLOCKING GAME COMES ALIVE WITH 25.5 AGAINST REDBIRDS: Notre Dame, which led Division I in blocking, but had struggled at times early this season (averaging below 2.90 blocks per game), regained its 2003 form on Wednesday, finishing with 25.5 blocks in a five-game victory against Illinois State. The Irish had only 2.5 blocks in the first game, but they then notched seven in the second game and nine in the third game before ending with three in the fourth and four in the 15-point final stanza. Notre Dame’s previous season high in blocks had been 16 against Syracuse on Oct. 2. Prior to Wednesday, no Irish player had taken part in 10 blocks in a match, but a quartet accomplished that feat against the Redbirds, as senior OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.), junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.), and freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) had 11 each and junior MB Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas/Lutheran South Academy) ended with 10, including three solo blocks.
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 Wednesday, 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 REACHES 15: Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) led the Irish in kills in all three matches last week, and she has now had 11 or more kills in 15 consecutive matches. Only once this season — Sept. 3 vs. #2 Nebraska (five kills) — has she not hit double digits in kills. Her current run is the fourth-longest streak of matches with 10+ kills in Irish history. The only longer ones were the school-record run of 21 matches by current senior Emily Loomis, which covered the final six contests of 2002 and the first 15 of `03 for a total of 21, plus a 17-match streak by Angie Harris in 1997, and a 16-match string posted by Christy Peters in 1993.
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.
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.
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.
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 102-5 (.953) record, including 56-0 in the Joyce Center. Notre Dame joined Pittsburgh (105-37) as the only schools to have won 100 BIG EAST matches. The Irish are just three victories behind the Panthers in conference wins even though Pittsburgh competed in the BIG EAST for five more seasons than Notre Dame.
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.
NOTRE DAME OPENS 4-0 IN BIG EAST FOR SIXTH CONSECUTIVE SEASON: After road wins against Syracuse (3-0), Rutgers (3-0), and Seton Hall (3-1) and a home sweep of St. John’s, the Irish are 4-0 in BIG EAST Conference action. It is the sixth consecutive season and ninth time in 10 years of league membership that Notre Dame has been unbeaten after three BIG EAST matches. In fact, the Irish have opened 11-0 in BIG EAST play in every year but one (1998-lost third league match, 3-2 at Connecticut).
DIG TO WIN: Notre Dame’s floor defense is a key indicator of its success. The Irish have won 25 consecutive matches (eight 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 +1.43 dig average (16.73-15.30), while the Irish are being outdug by 2.96 per game (16.92-13.96) in their six 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.
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 HOLD ORANGE TO .017 HITTING PERCENTAGE: Notre Dame’s defense held Syracuse to just a .017 attack percentage in the 3-0 Irish victory on Oct. 2. 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 six were either ranked or receiving votes in last week’s AVCA poll and just three of 26 headed into last 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 66-13 (.835) 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 162-26 (.861) 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 73 consecutive regular-season conference matches (57-0 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 155-7 (.957) 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 102-5 (.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 schedule continues on Nov. 5 vs. Connecticut (7 p.m.), which will be followed by broadcasts on 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.