Oct. 17, 2004
Notre Dame (9-5) vs. #18 Utah (15-2)
Tuesday, October 19, 7 p.m. â€¢ Crimson Court
– Live Internet Audio: www.utahutes.com
– Live Internet Video: www.utahutes.com
Notre Dame vs. Brigham Young (10-8)
Wednesday, October 20, 7 p.m. â€¢ Smith Fieldhouse
– Live TV: BYU Television, KBYU-TV, www.byutv.org
– Live Webcast: www.byucougars.com
– Real-Time Stats: www.byucougars.com
Notre Dame vs. St. John’s (14-7, 0-2)
Sunday, October 24, 2 p.m. â€¢ Joyce Center
– Real-Time Stats: www.und.com
– Big Top Day: Enjoy a youth circus performance between games
– Early arriving fans can enjoy free face painting and balloon animals
– First 400 fans will receive a mini volleyball sponsored by Outpost Sports and Yesterday’s
– Free food from Yesterday’s while supplies last!
– Irish Spiker clinic following the match
– Teamster Night! All local teamster members and their families will receive free admission
– Girl Scout Night! Free admission for all Girl Scouts
IRISH SET FOR BIG WEEK, BEGINNING WITH MATCHES AT #18 UTAH AND BYU: The University of Notre Dame women’s volleyball team, currently riding a four-match winning streak, has a big week of action ahead, as the Irish will first face #18 Utah (15-2), which has won 12 consecutive matches, on Tuesday at 7 p.m. (MDT) in Salt Lake City before taking on Brigham Young (10-8) on Wednesday at the same time in Provo. The Irish will then return home on Sunday for the first BIG EAST Conference match i n the Joyce Center this season, a tussle with St. John’s (14-7, 0-2) at 2 p.m. (EST). Fans will have various ways of keeping up with the matches in Utah, as the first contest will feature live internet audio and video and the second will be televised live by BYU Television, KBYU-TV in Utah, and on www.byutv.org, and www.byucougars.com will feature live video and real-time stats.
THE TV PLANS: Wednesday’s match against Brigham Young, which starts at 7 p.m. (MDT) (8 p.m. in South Bend), will be televised live by BYU Television, which is available to more than 20 million homes, and also will be available on KBYU-TV, the PBS affiliate (channel 11) in Utah, and on the internet at www.byutv.org. BYU Television is available on Dish Network (channel 9403) and DirecTV PLUS (channel 374), as well as in cable packages in various markets. For availabilty of BYU TV in your area, please see the following link: http://byutv.org/getbyutv/usmap.asp.
THE STREAMING VIDEO PLANS: Tuesday’s match at Utah, which starts at 7 p.m. (MDT) (8 p.m. in South Bend), will feature live streaming video, courtesy of the official website of Utah athletics, www.utahutes.com. Wednesday’s contest at BYU also will have live streaming video, courtesy of the official website of Brigham Young athletics, www.byucougars.com.
THE RADIO PLANS: Tuesday’s match against Utah will feature live internet audio, courtesy of the official website of Utah athletics, www.utahutes.com.
REAL-TIME STATS: Real-time statistics will be available in combination with the live webcast of Wednesday’s match provided by www.byucougars.com. Live in-game statistics, courtesy of College Sports Online’s GameTracker, will be made available on Sunday, via the Notre Dame athletics web site, www.und.com.
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 332-114 (.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 101-5 (.953) in regular-season BIG EAST play and 17-2 (.895) in conference tournament action. Notre Dame is 56-0 in BIG EAST regular-season matches in the Joyce Center.
The 2004 Irish team returned nine monogram winners and four starters from last year’s squad that was 23-7 and finished 24th in the national rankings after peaking at 12th. The Irish also led the nation in blocks per game (3.72, with second-place Cornell at 3.52) and have three of their top four blockers back for the `04 campaign.
Offensively, Notre Dame returns three players who were named honorable mention All-America last season and who constitute the only trio in school history to register 350+ kills apiece in the same season. Senior OH Emily Loomis (LOU-miss), the 2002 BIG EAST Championship’s Most Outstanding Player and a fourth-year starter, became the 14th player in Irish history to register 1,000+ career kills late in `03. She currently stands 12th with 1,139 and has a chance to finish among the top five on the Notre Dame career kills list. Loomis played middle blocker for the first 10 matches of 2004 before moving to outside hitter, where she has played in the last four matches. Junior MB Lauren Brewster led the country in individual blocking in `03 (1.78 per game), and her career block average of 1.68 is the best in school history, while she ranks second in attack percentage (.315). She already has five individual BIG EAST statistical crowns to her credit (blocking in league and overall matches in `02 and `03, hitting percentage in BIG EAST play in `03), which is the most-ever by a Notre Dame player. Brewster, the only Irish returning starter playing in the same position she did a year ago, was named the Cal Poly Invitational MVP and leads the Irish in points (258/4.69), attack percentage (.306) and blocks (83/1.51) this season. Brewster, who had a triple-double against Illinois State (17 kills, 13 digs, 11 blocks) currently has had 11+ kills in 12 consecutive matches, which is tied for the fifth-longest streak of double-digit-kill performances in school history. 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 .314 currently ranks as the third-best in school history. Notre Dame’s leader in kills (215/3.91), 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.
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 1.67 per game as a starter, and the team is averaging 4.10.
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 on Oct. 11.
Junior captain L Meg Henican (HENN-ih-kin) began the season starting at outside hitter, but injuries forced her into the libero jersey. In eight matches in the spot, she is averaging 5.09 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 3.48 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 twice in 14 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: 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 leading a potent blocking game that keyed Notre Dame’s 30-25, 34-32, 25-30, 23-30, 15-10 victory over Illinois State (12-5) Wednesday evening in the Joyce Center. The Irish finished with 25.5 blocks – with four different players taking part in 10 or more apiece – in holding the Redbirds to a .163 hitting mark. Having already lost two fifth games on their home floor this season, Notre Dame picked up its play in the decisive frame, notching eight kills (with Brewster converting all four of her attempts for kills) and making just a single error for a .438 attack percentage to go with four blocks. The Irish never trailed and took the lead for good on a block by senior OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) and junior MB Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas/Lutheran South Academy) to go up 3-2. After leading by five at 9-4, Notre Dame, which held leads of four or more points in both of the games it lost, saw the Redbirds rally, eventually cutting the margin to 11-9 and then 12-10. An Illinois State attack error forced an ISU timeout, and then Loomis and Brewster combined for a block to give Notre Dame a match point, which Brewster converted to extend Notre Dame’s current winning streak to four. Brewster ended with 17 kills on a .318 attack percentage and matched her career high with 13 digs. She also took part in 11 blocks, notching one solo block and assisting in 10 others for a total of 23 points. It was the 12th time in Brewster’s career – but the first instance in 2004 – that she ended up with 10 or more blocks in a match. It was the 12th consecutive match in which Brewster has had 11 or more kills, which is tied for the sixth-longest streak of double-digit-kill performances in Irish history.
Stasiuk was just one assist away from a triple-double the last time she stepped on the Joyce Center floor, but this time she left no doubt, finishing game three with 12 kills, 10 digs, and 10 blocks. At the end of the match, the rookie had 14 kills, 11 digs, and 11 blocks for a total of 21.5 points. In her first 13 collegiate matches, Stasiuk had never had more than five blocks, but she more than doubled that. In addition, Stasiuk had a pair of aces – including one to win the marathon second game. In an interesting twist, no Irish player had registered a triple-double since Dec. 4, 1998, when a pair of Notre Dame competitors also accomplished the feat on the same day. 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.
It was the second time in 2004 a Division I team had a pair of players with triple-doubles; Dartmouth’s Kathryn Hirsch and Elise Krieger did it against Army on Sept. 17. Brewster’s and Stasiuk’s 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.
Notre Dame, which led Division I in team blocking in 2003 and came into the match as the top blocking squad in the BIG EAST Conference (and 19th nationally) in ’04, had by far its best blocking match of this campaign, ending up with 25.5 blocks, one of the highest totals in school history. 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.
Junior OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) continued her hot hitting, finishing with 20 kills on a .283 hitting percentage. It was the second time in as many matches that she hit the 20-kill plateau, following a 25-kill performance on Oct. 10 at Seton Hall. Kelbley also matched her career high with four service aces and had five digs and a pair of blocks for 25 points. Loomis turned in her best performance of the 2004 season, ending with season highs of 18 kills, 11 blocks, and 25 points, sharing match-high honors in the latter category. The 11 blocks were a career high and five better than her previous season best, and the double-double was the 13th of her career and first of 2004. Cooper established career highs in both solo blocks (three) and total blocks (10) in becoming the fourth Irish player to notch double-digit blocks. She also matched her season high with 8.5 points. Rookie S Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) matched her season high with 51 assists and was just one shy of her collegiate high in digs with a team-best 17 that notched her sixth double-double of the season. She was outstanding as an offensive weapon, ending with four kills on eight attempts for a .375 percentage. Though Notre Dame beat Illinois State for the sixth time in a row, the match rekindled the rivalry in a series that has regularly featured five-game thrillers. In fact, eight of the last 13 meetings between the Irish and the Redbirds have been 3-2 affairs, with Notre Dame winning five of them.
SCOUTING UTAH: The Utes currently stand 15-2 and are riding the longest winning streak in school history, 12 matches. Utah is in first place in the Mountain West Conference, with a perfect 7-0 record that includes a four-game upset of #7 Colorado State last weekend. The Utes’ lone defeats came in early September at Long Beach State (3-1) and at UC Irvine (15-12 in the fifth). Among Utah’s top wins were an upset of #6 UCLA (15-12 in the fifth) and victories at BYU (3-1) and at home against St. Mary’s (3-1). The Utes were ranked 18th in last week’s AVCA rankings, but they figure to rise in this week’s listing due to their upset of the Rams last weekend. The match will be a contest between two of the best blocking teams in the nation, as Utah was ninth in last week’s NCAA stats at 3.28. Senior MB Lyndsey Henderson ranked fifth nationally in individual blocking with an average of 1.77. Utah returned five of seven starters from last year’s squad that was 22-9 and second in the Mountain West (12-2 record, tournament runner-up to Colorado State). The `03 Utes beat Santa Clara in the opening round of the NCAA tournament before losing to Wasshington to finish 25th in the national rankings. Beth Launiere is in her 15th season leading Utah’s program, and she has compiled a 290-173 (.626) mark.
IRISH-UTES SERIES NOTES: The Utes and Irish will meet for the second year in a row and fifth time overall, with every meeting coming since 1997 … the schools have split the previous matches, with the Irish prevailing 34-32, 16-30, 30-26, 26-30, 15-12 in the Shamrock Invitational in the Joyce Center last season … this will be Notre Dame’s second trip to Salt Lake City, as Utah beat the Irish 15-11, 15-13, 13-15, 15-6 in 1999 … the first meeting came at Spikeoff Spokane in 1997, where Notre Dame won 15-1, 15-8, 17-15 … a year later, at the Michigan State Invitational, the Utes were victorious 15-10, 15-4, 15-10 … Utah leads 8-7 in games won … Debbie Brown holds a 24-21 career record against current members of the Mountain West Conference, including 8-6 at Notre Dame … in last year’s match, Lauren Kelbley had 13 kills, while Emily Loomis added 12, and Lauren Brewster notched a career-high 13 blocks … Meg Henican had 11 kills and 14 digs at outside hitter, while Kelly Burrell notched 17 assists and seven digs.
SCOUTING BRIGHAM YOUNG: The Cougars currently stand 10-8 after having a five-match winning streak snapped over the weekend with consecutive losses to Wyoming and #7 Colorado State. Brigham Young is in third place in the Mountain West Conference with a 4-3 record. Five of the Cougar defeats this season have come against teams currently in the top 20 of the national rankings: Penn State (5th), Colorado State (7th), UCLA (11th), St. Mary’s (14th, 15-12 in the fifth), and Utah (18th). The other BYU losses were five-game affairs against Oklahoma (15-10 in the fifth) and Utah State (17-15) and a 3-1 loss to the Cowgirls. The Irish and Cougars have played one common opponent, as BYU defeated Rutgers in five (15-10 in the fifth) in the opening weekend of the season at Penn State, while the Irish topped the Scarlet Knights in three games. Notre Dame will play on Tuesday at Utah, which beat Brigham Young in four games last month. The match will be a contest between two of the best blocking teams in the nation, as BYU was eighth in last week’s NCAA stats at 3.30. The Cougars also were ranked 18th in hitting percentage at .283. Individually, sophomore MB Lindsy Hartsock was the national leader in blocking last week (1.81), and she was third in Division I in hitting percentage (.446). In addition, junior S Lauren Richards ranked 26th with 0.61 aces per game. BYU returned five of eight starters from lasat year’s squad that finished 24-9 and third in the Mountain West (10-4 record, tournament semifinals). The `03 Cougars beat New Mexico State in the opening round of the NCAA Championship before falling to eventual national semifinalist Hawaii. Karen Lamb is in her third season leading the BYU program, having posted a 48-36 (.571) record. In her eighth year overall as a head coach, Lamb is 138-130 (.515).
IRISH-COUGARS SERIES NOTES: Notre Dame and BYU will meet for the first time since 2000 and the fourth time overall … the Cougars won the first two meetings before the Irish rallied from a 2-0 deficit to prevail in five games over #15 BYU in the Shamrock Invitational in the Joyce Center in the most-recent match 5-15, 10-15, 15-10, 15-10, 15-10 … this will be Notre Dame’s second trip to Provo, as the eighth-ranked Cougars prevailed 15-12, 15-7, 15-7 in 1999 … this will be the first time the Irish have faced a BYU team ranked lower than 15th … the schools first met in the 1993 University of the Pacific Classic in Stockton, Calif., with the fourth-ranked Cougars downing #17 ND 15-5, 15-6, 15-11 … Brigham Young won the first eight games in series before the Irish took three straight in ’00 … Debbie Brown holds a 24-21 career record against current members of the Mountain West Conference, including 8-6 at Notre Dame.
SCOUTING ST. JOHN’S: St. John’s heads into this week with a 14-7 record and an 0-2 mark in BIG EAST Conference action. The Red Storm will return to action after an 11-day layoff by headingto Syracuse on Friday before visiting the Joyce Center. St. John’s suffered early-season losses to a trio of quality opponents (Florida A&M, Michigan State, and Ohio), but then won 10 of its next 11 matches (losing 3-1 to Hofstra). Since that stretch, the Red Storm has lost three of its last five, with all of the defeats coming in five games (against Long Island, defending BIG EAST co-champion Pittsburgh, and West Virginia). Michigan State is the lone common opponent between the Irish and Red Storm, as Notre Dame downed the Spartans in four games in the Gamecock Invitational last month and SJU lost in three last month. Junior OH Jackie Ahlers leads the BIG EAST in kills (5.56) and ranks ninth in Division I, and she also is tops in the conference in points (6.03). The Red Storm, picked to finish fourth in the league in `04, returned three of seven starters from last year’s squad that was 26-9 and tied for fourth in the BIG EAST (7-5 record, missed tournament). Joanne Persico-Smith is in her 11th season leading the program, having compiled a 204-137 (.598) record.
IRISH-RED STORM SERIES NOTES: The Irish and Red Storm will meet for the 10th time, once per season since Notre Dame became a member of the BIG EAST Conference in 1995 … the Irish have won each of the previous nine matches, taking 27 of 28 games … in 2003, 17th-ranked Notre Dame prevailed 30-24, 30-24, 30-19 in Jamaica … this will be the sixth trip to the Joyce Center for St. John’s … the schools first met in ’95, with the Irish winning 15-0, 15-6, 15-4 to start a streak of 22 consecutive game victories over SJU … the Red Storm’s lone game win was a 30-25 triumph in the second game in ’02 in the Joyce Center … New York has produced five Irish volleyball players, making it one of just six states to do so … in the 1998 match, Notre Dame finished with 20 blocks, which still stands as the most-ever for the Irish in a three-game contest … the ’01 affair saw the Irish take the first game 30-8, which is the largest margin of victory for Notre Dame in a game in school history … last year’s SJU team was 33rd in Division I in hitting percentage (.259) … Jackie Ahlers was a first-team all-BIG EAST selection and was tabbed honorable mention All-America in ’03 … a three-time league player of the week, Ahlers led the BIG EAST in kills in conference matches (4.95) and was 24th nationally in overall kills (5.02) … in three matches against SJU, Emily Loomis is averaging 4.80 kills on .421 hitting to go with 2.10 digs, 1.50 blocks, and 5.90 points … in two matches, Lauren Kelbley is averaging 2.86 kills on .326 hitting to go with 2.00 blocks and 4.07 points, while Lauren Brewster is averaging 2.14 blocks and 3.50 points … defensively, Meg Henican is averaging 3.50 digs in two matches, while Danielle Herndon had 11 in last year’s match (3.67 per game).
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 332-114 (.744) mark, while holding a 449-197 (.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.
BROWN LOOKING FOR 450TH CAREER VICTORY: Notre Dame head coach Debbie Brown is just one wins away from the 450th of her 20-year collegiate coaching career. Heading into this week, her career mark as a head coach stands at 449-197 (.695). Brown will join 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 12: Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) had 17 kills against Illinois State on Wednesday to mark the 12th consecutive match in which she has had 11 or more kills. Only once this season — Sept. 3 vs. #2 Nebraska (five kills) — has she not hit double digits in kills. Her current streak is tied for the fifth-longest streak of matches with 10+ kills in Irish history.
BREWSTER LEADS ND TO FIFTH-GAME WIN vs. ISU: Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) was a key factor in Notre Dame’s fifth-game victory against Illinois State. She converted all four of her attack attempts into kills and also had a pair of digs and was in on two of Notre Dame’s four blocks, as the Irish prevailed 15-10.
TV STARS: Wednesday’s match against Brigham Young will be televised live by BYU Television, marking the third time in an eight-match span that the Irish will be on TV. It also will be the fourth time in less than a year that Notre Dame has been televised. Most recently, the Sept. 28 match between Notre Dame and Michigan was televised by Comcast Sports Local and shown on a tape-delayed basis in southeast Michigan. That was the second time in as many matches that the Irish were featured on television, as the championship match of the Gamecock Invitational, in which South Carolina claimed a 3-1 victory, was shown nationally by College Sports Television (CSTV) as part of its “Sunday Night Spikes” national match-of-the-week package. This week also marks the fourth the third time in the last 23 matches that Notre Dame has been televised, as the Irish beat then-league rival Miami in three games late last season in a match that was part of CSTV’s inaugural “Sunday Night Spikes” series.
IRISH REMAIN ROAD WARRIORS: Though Notre Dame finally ended the longest midseason road trip in school history by playing at home on Wednesday, the Irish pack their bags again this week, as four of their next five matches will be away from the Joyce Center. Notre Dame will head to Utah and BYU this week before playing one home match prior to road trips to Georgetown and Villanova. The last Irish road swing was nine matches and 36 days long and it saw Notre Dame visit five different states and six cities: San Luis Obispo, Calif; Columbia, S.C.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Syracuse, N.Y.; New Brunswick, N.J.; and South Orange, N.J. It was the longest midseason road trip in the 25-year history of the program, in terms of both consecutive matches away from home and time between home tilts. During the swing, Notre Dame traveled 9,042 miles, which is more than one-third the circumference of the earth at its equator.
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 NAMED BIG EAST ROOKIE OF THE WEEK: Freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) was named the BIG EAST Conference Rookie of the Week 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. Stasiuk was a key factor in Notre Dame holding Rutgers – which came into the match ranking second in the BIG EAST in hitting percentage – to below .100 hitting in every game and a .081 mark for the match. Her nine digs were the second-highest total accumulated by any player, while she also took part in a pair of blocks. Offensively, Stasiuk had nine kills – tied for the third-highest total for all players – to end up with 10 points. On Sunday, Stasiuk helped Notre Dame outdig Seton Hall – who was second in the conference in digs – by a 76-67 margin. She again was second on the team, this time with 14 digs, marking the ninth time in 13 matches this season that she has had 11 or more digs. The 2004 Maine South High School graduate was one of four Irish players with 14 or more kills, ending with 15 – one shy of her season high – on a .344 hitting percentage. Stasiuk also served up a pair of aces (the sixth time she has had multiple service aces in a match in ’04) and took part in three blocks to finish with 18.5 points, her second-highest match total as a collegian. 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.
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 now hold a 101-5 (.953) record, including 56-0 in the Joyce Center. Notre Dame joined Pittsburgh (103-37) as the only schools to have won 100 BIG EAST matches. The Irish are just two victories behind the Panthers in conference wins even though Pittsburgh competed in the BIG EAST for five more seasons than Notre Dame.
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.
OFFENSE FINDS CONSISTENCY IN NEW JERSEY: Notre Dame’s matches in New Jersey on Oct. 9 and 10 were two of the best offensive performances, orchestrated by setters Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.) and Kelly Burrell (Phoenix, Ariz./Xavier College Prep School), for the Irish this season. Notre Dame, which has been plagued with offensive inconsistency for much of the 2004 campaign, hit .270+ in six of seven games against Rutgers and Seton Hall, topping the .330 mark on four occasions. The Irish had 16 or more kills in every game in both matches and committed more than five errors just twice. Notre Dame ended up hitting .303 against the Scarlet Knights after being over .300 just once in the first 11 matches of the season. The Seton Hall match currently stands as the top offensive contest of the season for the Irish, as they had 17 or more kills in every game (including 20+ in two) and hit .340 or better in three games to end up with a season-best match attack percentage of .315, the top mark for the Irish in their last 18 matches (since hitting .358 at West Virginia on Nov. 15, 2003).
Tarutis and Burrell had four hot hitters to work with, as a quartet of Notre Dame players finished with 14 or more kills and .300+ hitting marks. Junior OH Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) became the first Notre Dame player in nearly four years to have 25 kills in a match (on .304 hitting), while fellow junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) ended up with 16 kills on .316 hitting, while freshman OPP Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South H.S.) had 15 kills on .344 hitting and senior OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) added 14, making just a single error for a .361 mark. Tarutis ended up with 46 assists, her best output in a four-game match, while Burrell had 16, her third-best sum of the season.
NOTRE DAME OPENS 3-0 IN BIG EAST FOR SIXTH CONSECUTIVE SEASON: After road wins against Syracuse (3-0), Rutgers (3-0), and Seton Hall (3-1), the Irish are 3-0 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 24 consecutive matches (seven 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 +1.56 dig average (16.88-15.32), while the Irish are being outdug by 1.71 per game (16.52-14.79) in their five defeats. It was a key factor in the Irish claiming the title at the Cal Poly-Best Western Invitational. Heading into that event, Notre Dame had been outdug in seven consecutive matches (dating back to 2003), but the Irish averaged 19.00 digs per game for the tournament, finishing each match with more digs than their opponents. A highlight of that was Notre Dame registering 80 digs in a three-game win over Sacramento State for an average of 26.67 per game. Leading the way was junior captain L Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.), who had 26 — the second-highest total ever for an Irish player in a three-game affair.
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 WINS FOURTH BIG EAST PLAYER-OF-THE-WEEK AWARD: Junior MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) was named the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week on Sept. 13 after helping Notre Dame go unbeaten to capture the championship of the Cal Poly-Best Western Royal Oak Invitational. Brewster, who was named the tournament’s MVP, notched three double-doubles in four matches during the week, ending with 60 kills, an average of 3.75 per game, on a .336 hitting percentage. She also averaged 1.62 blocks (3 BS, 23 BA) and 2.56 digs (41 total) per game and had 78.5 points (4.91 per game). In the mid-week match against Valparaiso, she was just two blocks shy of her first career triple-double, as she ended up with 18 kills, 13 digs, and eight blocks. Saturday’s evening match, vs. tournament host Cal Poly, saw the Brentwood, Tenn., native match her career best with a .684 hitting mark, registering 13 kills on 19 errorless swings to go with six blocks. Brewster ranked among the top four in four different categories in the Cal Poly Invitational leaders, coming in first in hitting percentage, second in blocks, and fourth in service aces and kills. She was the only non-outside hitter in the top six in kill average. The Brentwood High School graduate, who was named the BIG EAST’s top player three times during October of 2003, joins outside hitters Angie Harris (’98) and Christi Girton (’01) as the only Irish players ever to be named the BIG EAST Player of the Week four times during their careers.
BREWSTER, 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 161-26 (.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 72 consecutive regular-season conference matches (56-0 vs. the BIG EAST) in the Joyce Center, with its last defeat coming in 1990. The Irish, who have topped 13 ranked teams – including four top-10 squads – at home, also hold a 154-7 (.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 101-5 (.953) regular-season mark, highlighted by eight titles and winning streaks of 45 and 35 consecutive matches. Notre Dame is 56-0 in BIG EAST regular-season matches in the Joyce Center, and the Irish have won seven BIG EAST tournament championships, posting a 17-2 mark in the event and reaching the final every year. Notre Dame also has dominated the conference awards, winning player-of-the-year honors six times and the coach-of-the-year award on four occasions. In seven instances, Irish players have been named the league tournament’s most outstanding player. Also, Notre Dame student-athletes have garnered 32 all-conference accolades, including 20 first-team honors, which account for more than one-third of the first-team selections during the span.
SEVEN-MATCH SCHEDULE SET FOR www.und.com INTERNET AUDIO: Notre Dame’s official athletic website, www.und.com, will feature 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.