Notre Dame seeks its 10th BIG EAST tournament title this weekend in Pittsburgh.

Irish Prep For Rematch With Huskies To Kick Off BIG EAST Championship

Nov. 19, 2008

Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Earning a trip to the BIG EAST Conference Championship for the 14th time in as many seasons, the Notre Dame volleyball team travels to Pittsburgh to face Connecticut on Friday in the first round of the league’s final event of the season. The 2008 league tournament taking place at Pittsburgh’s Fitzgerald Field House features the BIG EAST’s top eight teams from the regular season standings, which includes the Irish who received the showdown’s fifth seed.

If Notre Dame’s past success in previous BIG EAST Championships played within the city limits of Pittsburgh is any indication, the squad could be poised for its 10th tournament title. The Irish have won five of six league tournaments played in the Steel City, while carrying a 12-1 record.

Notre Dame holds an all-time record of 25-4 (.862) in BIG EAST Championship play which is the best among league members, followed by Pittsburgh (47-11, .810) and Louisville (7-2, .778).

“The BIG EAST tournament is always fun and exciting,” Irish head coach Debbie Brown said. “As much as we’d like to go into the tournament as a higher seed, everyone is 0-0 at this point. We’re excited to face a first-round opponent that we just played. Whether we had won or lost the previous match, I’d say the same thing. You know who the players are and you have a better feel for the team, opposed to someone you played in the season’s first weekend.

“In terms of preparation, we feel good. We know it will be a tremendously competitive tournament and we like that, because that type of environment brings out the best in us.”

The Irish are fresh off a 3-2 win over Connecticut last Sunday after dropping a five-set decision to St. John’s on Nov. 14. In 2007, Notre Dame closed the regular season with consecutive wins against Cincinnati and Louisville before facing each of those squads in the first two rounds of the conference tournament. The Irish could potentially see themselves in a tilt with the Red Storm once more if both teams win their first-round contests.

After the four first-round games on Friday the winners will face off in the semifinals on Nov. 22 at 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Sunday’s title match will be televised live at 3:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPNU. The winner of the BIG EAST Championship will receive the league’s automatic bid to the 2008 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship.

St. John’s and Cincinnati were the BIG EAST regular season co-champions, but the Red Storm will take the tournament’s top seed after downing the Bearcats in the regular season. St. John’s lost out on an outright BIG EAST regular season championship with its 3-1 loss to DePaul on Nov. 16.

Cincinnati enters the championship as one of the league’s hottest teams, finishing the regular season with a 14-0 home record to become just the second team in school history to go undefeated in matches played on the Bearcat’s campus. Entering the championship, Cincinnati has won 15 consecutive matches, which is tied for the second longest winning streak in school history.

Last year’s BIG EAST Championship runner-up, Louisville, received the No. 3 seed with a strong performance down the stretch that negated a slow start in non-conference play. The Cardinals won their last BIG EAST Championship in 2006.

Connecticut rounds out the top half of the tournament bracket with the fourth seed. The Huskies have neither won nor been runner-up in BIG EAST Championship history, sporting a 12-36 all-time record in the event.

Notre Dame is followed by Pittsburgh, Syracuse and USF in the tournament’s seeding.

Though all 16 members of the BIG EAST Conference field women’s volleyball teams, Providence ceased its league participation in the sport after the 2002 season. The other 15 schools take part in round-robin play during the regular season, and the top eight teams then participate in the BIG EAST Championship, a single-elimination tournament with the winner receiving the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. This championship format is a departure from the traditional four-team event that had been in place when the Irish joined the league (with the exception of 1999, when the league experimented with an expanded three-day, six-team event).

Notre Dame has experienced unprecedented success in the 13 years since joining the league in 1995. The Irish have compiled a 148-21 (.897) regular-season mark, highlighted by nine tournament titles and winning streaks of 45 and 35 consecutive matches. Notre Dame once earned 58-straight victories at home in BIG EAST regular-season play. Irish volleyball squads carried a home conference winning streak of 74 straight matches from 1991 to 2004, which includes wins over both Midwestern Conference and BIG EAST opponents.

The Irish have won nine BIG EAST tournament championships, posting a 25-4 (.862) mark in the event while reaching the final match in its first 12 tournament appearances. Notre Dame has also dominated the league’s postseason awards, winning player-of-the-year honors six times and coach-of-the-year award on five occasions. On nine instances, Irish players have been named the league tournament’s most outstanding player. Notre Dame student-athletes have garnered 46 all-conference accolades – including 26 first-team honors – which accounts for nearly one-third of the total first-team honors handed out during the span.

Prior to joining the BIG EAST, Notre Dame was a member of the North Star Conference from 1983-87 and the Midwestern Collegiate Conference from 1990-94. The Irish won regular-season and tournament titles in the NSC in 1986 and 1987 and then captured both the regular-season and tournament championships in the MCC from 1991-1994. In 23 years of conference participation, Notre Dame has won 16 regular-season crowns and 15 league tournaments while compiling a 205-34 (.858) mark in regular-season conference matches.

Live multimedia services will be available at for each match. For up-to-the-minute results, sign up for IRISH ALERT text messaging services at

Directions to Fitzgerald Field House
From the East: Take the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the Pittsburgh/Monroeville Exit (57) … follow I-376 West toward Pittsburgh through the Squirrel Hill Tunnels … take the Oakland Exit (3B) and proceed up the hill through the first traffic light at Blvd. of the Allies … after crossing the Blvd. of the Allies, take the second left onto McKee Place … follow McKee Place to the fourth traffic light, making a right onto Allequippa Street … the Fitzgerald Field House is on the right, and parking facilities will be up the ramp on your left.

From the North: Take I-79 South to I-279 South to I-579 South (Exit 8A) over the Veterans Bridge … take the 6th Avenue exit … follow signs for Mellon Arena … turn left onto Bigelow Boulevard at light … stay in left lane at the next light and follow signs to Bigelow Boulevard PA-380 East … continue on Bigelow Blvd., bear right at the split at North Craig Street … turn right onto Centre Avenue, left onto Allequippa Street … go past the Veteran’s Hospital … stay on Allequippa Street past the Petersen Events Center on the left … parking facilities will be up the ramp on the right, and the Fitzgerald Field House will be on the left.

From the South: Take I-79 North to I-279 North through the Fort Pitt Tunnels … once through the Fort Pitt Tunnels, exit to the right following I-376 East to the Oakland/Forbes Avenue Exit (2A) … follow Forbes Avenue to the third traffic light, making a left onto McKee Place … follow McKee Place, making a right at the third traffic light onto Allequippa Street … the Fitzgerald Field House is on the right, and parking facilities will be up the ramp on your left.

From the West (Pittsburgh International Airport): Take I-279 towards Pittsburgh … pass through the Fort Pitt Tunnels … once through the Fort Pitt Tunnels, exit to the right following I-376 East to the Oakland/Forbes Avenue Exit (2A) … proceed on Forbes Avenue to the third traffic light, making a left onto McKee Place … follow McKee Place, making a right at the third traffic light onto Allequippa Street … the Fitzgerald Field House is on the right, and parking facilities are up the ramp on your left.

Tickets can be purchased at Fitzgerald Field House … on Friday, prices are $10 (adults) and $5 (youth and seniors) and tickets are good for the entire day … upon the conclusion of the second match on Friday and for each of Saturday’s contests and the final on Sunday, tickets will cost $7 (adults) and $4 (youth and seniors) … all-session passes are available for $20 (adults) and $10 (youth and seniors) … children under five-years-old are admitted for free, as are BIG EAST students with a school identification card.

Friday (Nov. 21) – Fans may park in the parking lot across the street and up the ramp from the Fitzgerald Field House until 4 p.m. (ET) for $7 … after 4:00 p.m. vehicles must be parked in the Towerview Parking Lot located behind Trees Hall for $10 … take the elevator to the Sports Complex, go out of the building and walk down the ramp to the Fitzgerald Field House.

Saturday (Nov. 22) – Fans may park in the parking lot across the street and up the ramp from the Fitzgerald Field House until 2 p.m. (ET) for $10 … after 2:00 p.m. vehicles must be parked in the Towerview Garage for $10.

Sunday (Nov. 23) – Fans may park in the parking lot across the street and up the ramp from the Fitzgerald Field House all day with no charge
**There are no in and out privileges, and once you are in a lot, you are permitted to stay there.**

Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(14-13 overall / 9-5 BIG EAST)

2008 BIG EAST Conference Championship
Friday-Sunday, Nov. 21-23
Fitzgerald Field House
University of Pittsburgh
Live video / audio / stats:

Bump, Set, Spike …
• The Irish have claimed nine BIG EAST Championships titles with a pair of second-place finishes … Pittsburgh’s 10 titles (1982, 1984, 1986, 1988-94, 2003) are the most by any school in front of Notre Dame’s nine … however, the Panthers reached their total through 26 seasons as a league member and have only won one title since Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST in 1995 … the Joyce Center has played host to the BIG EAST Tournament three times (1995, 2000, 2003) … Adrianna Stasiuk was the tournament’s MVP in 2005, joining eight other Irish players to earn the honor: Lauren Brewster (2004), Emily Loomis (2002), Malinda Goralski (2001), Denise Boylan (2000), Marcie Bomhack (1998), Jaimie Lee (1997), Lindsay Treadwell (1996), and Angie Harris (1995) … the Irish have also won 10 regular-season league crowns.

• Notre Dame is no stranger when it comes to BIG EAST Championship action hosted by Pittsburgh … the Irish have won five of six league tournaments played in the Steel City while carrying a 12-1 record … the lone loss came to Georgetown in 1999 … the Irish have faced Connecticut on four occasions in the BIG EAST Championship within the Pittsburgh city limits, and three times in the tournament’s first round and sport a 4-0 mark.

• With a 9-5 BIG EAST Conference record the Irish have now won at least nine contests in league play for the 14th consecutive season … Notre Dame was victorious in nine BIG EAST matches in 1998, 2004 and 2007 … the most wins came in 2005 (13-1) as the Irish went on to post a 30-4 overall record en route to an appearance in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 16.

Series History …
Friday’s BIG EAST Championship matchup between Notre Dame and Connecticut will be the 20th time the Irish and Huskies have faced off on the volleyball court … the Irish rattled off 13 straight wins in the series before losing a four-set affair in 2007, but bounced back with a five-set win to end the 2008 regular season … the teams have four times played in five-game affairs, with Connecticut gaining the first of its two victories over Notre Dame in 1998 … that was Notre Dame’s first loss to a BIG EAST school since becoming a league member, ending a 41-match winning streak (35 regular season and six tournament matches) … in the semifinals of that season’s BIG EAST Championship, Connecticut won the first two sets before Notre Dame won three straight to ignite a 12-match winning streak against the Huskies … the Irish have won 54 of 68 sets … Notre Dame dropped a 3-1 decision to the Huskies in 2007 despite Justine Stremick’s 13 kills on a .306 clip … Stremick had four blocks – including two solo stops – and Adrianna Stasiuk turned in 21 digs for the second time in as many contests … Serinity Phillips had a team-high 14 kills to go along with 18 digs … in fact, Phillips led an Irish attack with a match-high 16 kills in Notre Dame’s 2006 win over Connecticut … Christi Gordon had 31 kills in the 2000 match, the third-highest total ever by an Irish player and the last 30-kill match recorded at Notre Dame. … former Irish standout and current volunteer assistant Emily Loomis was an assistant coach for the Huskies in 2007 … Loomis spent 2001-04 playing for the Fighting Irish and was named honorable mention AVCA All-America in 2003, finishing her career with 1,321 kills to rank fifth on the Irish all-time kills list … she stands as the only Notre Dame student-athlete ever to earn all-BIG EAST honors in two distinctly different sports (excluding track and field and cross country), as she is a four-time all-BIG EAST performer in the high jump for the Irish track and field team, winning the 2003 outdoor BIG EAST title in that event.

Last Time Out …
Facing a four-point deficit in the fifth set against Connecticut, Notre Dame rattled off eight unanswered points to deal the Huskies a 3-2 (26-28, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23, 15-11) defeat at the Joyce Center … Notre Dame trailed, 11-7, but was aided by five UConn errors over the final stretch to earn the BIG EAST Conference win and the league tournament’s fifth overall seed … the loss for the Huskies was just the second for the conference championship’s fourth-seeded squad since Oct. 18 … senior Justine Stremick played a pivotal role in snapping the Huskies’ seven-match win streak … Stremick totaled a season-best 17 kills on a .364 clip and five blocks … seven of her kills came in the fourth set to swing momentum into Notre Dame’s favor and four more kills were racked in the final frame … sophomore Kellie Sciacca had seven kills and six blocks, but more importantly, remained a steady pillar at the net to help the Irish limit the Huskies to respective hitting averages of .000, .073 and .059 in the last three sets of the match … distributing a match-high 52 assists was junior Jamel Nicholas, who also had three kills and a pair of blocks … freshman Kristen Dealy secured her 10th double-double of the season with 16 kills and 17 digs … sophomore Megan Dunne led the Irish with 18 scoops and junior Serinity Phillips added 13.

Irish Dealt Honor By BIG EAST …
First-year outside hitter Kristen Dealy earned the BIG EAST Conference’s Freshman of the Week award (Nov. 17) … the Santa Barbara, Calif., native punched in a pair of double-doubles from Nov. 14-16 to bring her team-high total to 10 … Dealy was all over the court during a 3-2 win against UConn (Nov. 16), finding 17 digs and spiking home 16 kills in the win … Dealy collected 12 kills and matched a season high with 18 digs in Notre Dame’s 3-2 loss to St. John’s on Nov. 14.

Alive In Five …
This season marks the 10th time since 1980 that the Irish have played in at least seven five-set matches in a solo campaign … the 1991 squad took part in a program-high 11 lengthened battles, finishing 6-5 in such bouts … four of Notre Dame’s last five contests – and five of the previous seven – have been decided in five sets … the Irish are 10-2 in three-set matches and 2-6 in four-setters.

Standing Tall …
Justine Stremick helped the Irish hold one of the league’s top offensive units at bay with a season-high 10 blocks – three solo – in a Nov. 14 match versus St. John’s … the Irish recorded 19 blocks versus the Red Storm, the highest team total of the season … Stremick also tagged on 11 kills with only one error for a .455 clip in the five-set match … she then came back two days later with 17 kills and a .364 average against UConn (Nov. 16) and added five blocks against the Huskies … her efforts helped the Irish snap the Huskies’ seven-match win streak … seven of her kills came in the fourth set to swing momentum into Notre Dame’s favor and four more kills were racked in the final frame … the Irish limited the Huskies to respective hitting averages of .000, .073 and .059 in the last three sets of the match … Stremick’s career block total now stands at 422, moving her into eighth place on Notre Dame’s all-time blocks list … Zanette Bennett (1985-88) is seventh with 434 blocks … Stremick is the 11th player in program history to record at least 400 stuffs … her 1.19 bocks/set average is fifth on the career list.

Statistically Stacking Up …
Looking at the BIG EAST Conference’s statistical leaders, Notre Dame litters many of the lists … in conference play, Notre Dame is fourth in hitting percentage (.261), fifth in opponent hitting percentage (.183), second in assists/set (12.85) and third in both kills/set (13.73) and digs/set (13.82) … Kellie Sciacca is second overall with a hitting percentage of .376 while Christina Kaelin is fifth with 3.57 kills/set … Jamel Nicholas ranks third with 10.93 assists/set and Kristen Dealy is tied for sixth with .350 aces/set … on the national level, Notre Dame is 56th with 2.35 blocks/set with Justine Stremick sitting 54th among individual players with 1.16 blocks/set.

The Rutgers Rout …
Setting a program record for the largest margin of victory in the 25-point era, Notre Dame posted a 38-point win over Rutgers (Nov. 9) … it was the largest margin of victory during the 2008 campaign for the Irish, exceeding the previous best of 32 set earlier this season against West Virginia … the set scores went 25-13, 25-16 and 25-8 … the Scarlet Knights struggled with their hitting by posting a -.079 clip, the lowest by an Irish opponent this season and the strongest defensive effort from Notre Dame since holding DePaul to -.110 in 2005 … the Irish fell behind again in the final set, 1-0, but it had minimal effect on the outcome … Notre Dame posted runs of 4-0, 7-0 and 5-0 to help rock the Scarlet Knights to sleep … the action in the last frame was highlighted by the hot hands of the Irish swingers who connected for 12 kills on 29 attempts without a fault for a .414 average.

Stremick Stays Sharp In Classroom …
For the third time in as many seasons senior Justine Stremick was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V First Team (Nov. 6) … Stremick was a second-team choice in 2007 and a third-team selection as a sophomore in 2006 … the Langdon, N.D., native boasts a 3.79 cumulative grade-point average as a math and life science major and was the only BIG EAST Conference player to collect first-team honors this season … she plans on attending medical school next fall … after surgically repairing her anterior cruciate ligament in April, Stremick returned to the court one month ahead of schedule with the help of team trainer Chantal Porter … Stremick’s twin sister and Army outside hitter, Briana, also notched first-team honors.

Phillips Fills Up Stat Line …
Serinity Phillips narrowly missed out on notching Notre Dame’s first triple-double since 2004, finishing with 25 kills on a .375 average, 10 digs and a career-high nine blocks against Marquette (Nov. 2) … Phillips’ kill total was her best of the season and the most since she pounded Villanova 26 times in 2007 … she had a double-double with 16 kills and 13 digs against Syracuse (Nov. 1) with a .375 clip … Phillips averaged 4.10 kills/set and cleanly fielded 33 serves for a perfect average over the weekend … she was named to the league’s weekly honor roll on Nov. 3 … Notre Dame’s last triple-double came in 2004 against Illinois State … in the 3-2 win, Lauren Brewster (17 kills, 13 digs, 11 blocks) and Adrianna Stasiuk (14 kills, 11 digs, 11 blocks) each accomplished the feat … there have been 21 triple-doubles in program history, four of which were recorded by Zanette Bennett from 1987-88 … Phillips accounted for 30.5 of Notre Dame’s 88.0 points in the match … it was the highest point total for any player since 2005 when Lauren Kelbley (Loyola-Chicago) and Lauren Brewster (Arizona State) finished with 31.0 points … Kelbley’s total came during a three-set match … Phillips had a pair of double-doubles and narrowly missed out on a third from Oct. 21-Oct. 26 … she finished with 11 kills and 10 digs at Long Beach (Oct. 21) … also notched 11 kills and a career-high 22 digs at Villanova (Oct. 25) … the 22 digs tied her for team-high honors on the season and the most of any outside hitter … in a three-set match at Seton Hall (Oct. 26), Phillips wrapped up the match with seven kills with only one error for a .316 average, 11 digs and two solo blocks.

Juicing the Orange …
Needing five sets to secure a win over Syracuse (Nov. 1) for the first time since 1990, Notre Dame prevailed over the Orange with a 3-2 victory … nonetheless, the home team posted a .377 hitting percentage to set a school record for a five-set match … the previous Notre Dame record for hitting percentage in a five-set match was .346, set versus San Francisco in 1991 … it was the first five-set win of the season in four tries and just the second five-period contest between Notre Dame and Syracuse in the 17-match series history … five Irish players finished with at least 10 kills for the first time since a 2007 date at Pittsburgh … traffic was directed by setter Jamel Nicholas and her career-high 68 assists.

Marked By Marquette …
Playing in its second five-set match in as many days, Notre Dame stumbled in a 3-2 matchup versus Marquette (Nov. 2) … the match marked the first time Notre Dame played in consecutive five-set contests against a conference opponent since joining the BIG EAST in 1995.

The Offensive Engineer …
Setter Jamel Nicholas has had at least 20 assists in each of Notre Dame’s matches this season with the Irish switching between a 5-1 and 6-2 offensive attack … Nicholas had a career-high 68 assists against Syracuse (Nov. 1) … it was the first time an Irish player had 60+ assists since Ashley Tarutis registered 63 in a three-set win over USF in 2007 … Nicholas currently ranks eighth on the school’s all-time assists list with 1,661 … she reached a noteworthy milestone at the Idaho Volleyball Classic (Sept. 5-6) by surpassing the 1,000-assist plateau … Nicholas shared time with Tarutis during her first two seasons with the Fighting Irish and now mentors freshman setter Beth Wildermuth.

Catch Us If You Can …
The Irish have posted several impressive scoring streaks this season, most recently a 9-0 run during the fourth set of a five-frame loss at Villanova (Oct. 25) … the team boasted a 9-0 run at Georgetown (Sept. 28) and went on 10-0 jaunt against West Virginia (Oct. 11) … Notre Dame also posted 10 unanswered points in a home win over Nevada (Aug. 30), which covered the first and second sets … facing a four-point deficit (7-11) in the fifth set against Connecticut (Nov. 16), Notre Dame rattled off eight unanswered points to help deal the Huskies a 3-2 defeat … in 2007, the Irish scored on 12 consecutive rallies versus DePaul (Oct. 2007).

The Real Deal(y) …
Freshman Kristen Dealy registered four double-doubles from Oct. 21-Nov 1, bringing her team-high total to eight … Dealy had 16 kills on a .286 average with 11 digs at Long Beach (Oct. 21) and added a pair of assists and six blocks – four of which were solo – versus the 49ers … she followed that with 15 kills, 15 digs and three aces with four blocks at Villanova (Oct. 25) … 10 of those digs came in the first set alone … Dealy’s four consecutive matches with a double-double tied her for sixth with four others on the all-time list … she is the first since Adrianna Stasiuk did so in 2005 … it is longest streak ever by a freshman.

Are We There Yet?
Fall break may have meant classes were out of session at Notre Dame, but volleyball was in full swing … Notre Dame covered over 6,000 miles, caught six flights and hit ground in five states over the course of one week with matches at Long Beach (Oct. 21), Villanova (Oct. 25) and Seton Hall (Oct. 26) … Notre Dame went 1-2 on the road trip.

Irish Reach 600 …
Eight team aces and 13 kills by freshman Kristen Dealy powered Notre Dame to win No. 600 in program history against West Virginia (Oct. 11) at the Joyce Center … following the win the Irish sported a 600-343 (.636) overall record in their 29th season of varsity action.

Take a Bow …
Christina Kaelin was part of the BIG EAST Conference’s honor roll on Oct. 6 and again on Oct. 13 … Kaelin had 11 kills with only one error for a .500 clip to lead an Irish team that hit .370 in an Oct. 11 contest with WVU … the Irish received 21 kills from Kaelin in the team’s next match versus Pittsburgh (Oct. 12) … that performance put her in a four-way tie for 10th place on Notre Dame’s career list for matches with 20+ kills (6) … she had 20 against Eastern Washington earlier this season … she averaged 4.57 kills/set over the two-match stretch … she also led the Irish in kills and hitting percentage in each of the team’s two matches from Oct. 4-5 … Kaelin fired in 14 kills on a .344 average during her homecoming match against the Cardinals … the Louisville native also added one dig and one block versus the Cardinals … she finished with a match-high 17 kills on a .467 average at Cincinnati with one ace and five digs in the four-set affair … she totaled 18.0 points in the Irish loss … the junior averaged 4.43 kills/set on the weekend with a .403 average.

Sciacca Strikes Again …
Sophomore middle blocker Kellie Sciacca was named the league’s top player on Sept. 29 for her performances during Irish wins at USF (Sept. 26) and Georgetown (Sept. 28) … Sciacca had 20 kills in her first BIG EAST match of the season while posting a .643 average against USF … she recorded 16 kills versus the Bulls before recording an error and finished with only two faults on 28 attempts … her hitting percentage in the contest was the fourth highest ever in school history for a four-set match … she followed that performance with nine kills on 15 swings with three errors for a .400 average at Georgetown … Sciacca also added an ace and one solo block against the Hoyas … for the weekend, she averaged 4.14 kills/set with a .588 hitting clip … the Monument, Colo., native was part of the league’s honor roll on Sept. 1 … the BIG EAST named Sciacca its Freshman of the Week three times in 2007 – the most among league rookies – as she was a part of the league’s honor roll on four occasions … Sciacca was also the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s (AVCA) Northeast Region Freshman of the Year last season.

Going Solo …
Senior middle blocker Justine Stremick made her presence felt after seeing action for the first time this season during her debut at the Diet Coke Classic (Sept. 12-14) … Stremick, who missed the first six matches of the season while nursing an injured knee, had eight blocks against No. 16 Cal Poly (Sept. 12) and seven kills versus No. 4 California (Sept. 13).

The Bigger They Are …
It had been a while since Notre Dame faced three consecutive ranked opponents before doing so at the Diet Coke Classic (No. 16 Cal Poly, No. 4 California, No. 11 Minnesota) … the last time Notre Dame challenged ranked foes in consecutive matches was in 2001 when they went to battle with No. 7 UCLA, No. 1 Nebraska and No. 15 Pepperdine at the U.S. Bank / Arby’s Tournament in Lincoln, Neb. … Notre Dame dropped each of the three matches on both occasions.

Pocket Aces …
Notre Dame served a season-high eight aces against Washington State (Sept. 6), but raised the bar one week later against No. 4 California (Sept. 13) with 10 aces … Serinity Phillips, Jamel Nicholas, Tara Enzweiler and Beth Wildermuth each had two for the Fighting Irish against Washington State … Wildermuth added a career-high four aces against California.

On Top of the Summit …
In 29 seasons of varsity volleyball, Notre Dame earned just its first win over a Summit League opponent with a 3-0 sweep of IPFW (Aug. 29) … the league changed its name from the Mid-Continent Conference to Summit in June 2007 … before the season-opening win over the Mastodons the Irish were 26-8 all-time against the conference and 14-3 under head coach Debbie Brown.

It’s Good To Be Home …
Head coach Debbie Brown earned her 200th home victory at Notre Dame with a 3-1 win against Nevada (Aug. 30) … the win moved Brown to 200-38 (.843) within the walls of the Joyce Center … last season she picked up her 400th overall win as the Irish skipper.

Give Silva the Shovel …
Freshman libero Frenchy Silva averaged 4.27 digs/set in four matches during the Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 29-31) … that clip ranked fourth in the BIG EAST Conference and the best among league rookies … Silva scooped 21 shots against Valparaiso (Aug. 31), the first 20-dig effort by an Irish player since Adrianna Stasiuk posted an identical total at Connecticut (Oct. 27) in 2007.

Brown Honored By Former Team …
Head coach Debbie Brown was honored on Sept. 4 during the University of Southern California’s match versus Oklahoma as part of the program’s All-Time Great Night … Brown, a former Trojan standout, was joined during the ceremony with longtime friend and teammate Sue Woodstra … permanent banners with Woodstra and Brown’s name and numbers are now displayed in the Galen Center … after graduating from El Segundo High School (Calif.), Brown captained the University of Southern California to a 72-1 two-year record and national titles in both 1976 and 1977, including a 38-0 run in 1977 that, until 1998, was the only unbeaten season in Division I women’s volleyball history … her 1977 squad is still considered one of the all-time greatest at any level of volleyball … Brown (then Debbie Landreth) twice was named a collegiate All-American and received the Mikasa Award as the “nation’s best all-around player” in 1976 and 1977 … the 5-8 outside hitter left USC prior to her junior year, accepting an invitation to train full-time with the U.S. national team … she co-captained the team to a fifth-place finish at the 1978 World Championships … a year later, she and her teammates – including Debbie Green, Flo Hyman, Rita Crockett and Woodstra – qualified for the Olympics in Moscow and were considered serious medal contenders before the United States elected to boycott the games.

Early Experience …
Freshmen Kristen Dealy and Frenchy Silva each cracked the starting lineups in their collegiate debut versus IPFW (Aug. 31) … last season, first-year players Kellie Sciacca and Angela Puente started in the season opener … setter Beth Wildermuth also saw significant action on the court in the season’s first weekend of play … Silva and Dealy earned starting nods in each of Notre Dame’s three matches … Dealy led the Irish with 31 kills (2.82 kills/set) while Silva averaged 4.27 digs/set … not to be outdone, Wildermuth split time with starting setter Jamel Nicholas and posted 3.73 assists/set.

Enzweiler Energizes Irish …
Junior middle blocker Tara Enzweiler set career-high marks in virtually every statistical category during the Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 29-31) … Enzweiler logged a pair of starts and matched or exceeded single-match personal bests in kills (5), attempts (13), aces (2), solo blocks (1), block assists (7), total blocks (8) and points (8.5).

Kaelin Christens Court …
Junior outside hitter Christina Kaelin returned from an injury that sidelined her for the duration of the 2007 campaign with three starts at the Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 29-31) … her weekend was highlighted by 13 kills for a .480 clip versus Valparaiso (Aug. 31) … Kaelin was one of Notre Dame’s top offensive threats throughout her freshman campaign.

Shamrock Stars …
Junior outside hitter Serinity Phillips and sophomore middle blocker Kellie Sciacca were each named to the Shamrock Invitational All-Tournament squad … Phillips had 13 kills and 12 digs in the season opener against IPFW (Aug. 29) and scooped at least 10 digs in each of the invite’s three matches … Sciacca secured a double-double – the second of her career – against Nevada (Aug. 30) with a 14-kill, 10-block effort.

BIG EAST Honors Sciacca …
Sophomore middle blocker Kellie Sciacca was selected to the league’s weekly honor roll (Sept. 1) … Sciacca totaled 30 kills (2.73/set) on a .359 average through three matches at the Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 29-31) … she led Notre Dame with 20 blocks over the course of three matches (1.82 blocks/set) and also registered one ace … Sciacca had 14 kills on a .464 average against Nevada (Aug. 30) along with 10 blocks for a double-double … she had seven blocks against Valparaiso (Aug. 31) … she finished with nine kills on 18 swings versus IPFW (Aug. 29).