Head coach Debbie Brown will have a local product -- Madison Clark of nearby Sturgis, Mich. -- on her team for the first time since 1993.

Irish Sign A Pair Of Former State Players Of The Year For Next Season

April 4, 2005

A pair of former high school state players of the year, California’s Mallorie Croal (Villa Park, Calif./Mater Dei H.S.) and North Dakota’s Justine Stremick (Langdon, N.D./Langdon Area H.S.), have signed national letters of intent to enroll at the University of Notre Dame and join its women’s volleyball team this fall, head coach Debbie Brown announced recently.

“Looking toward the future and looking at who we have lost to graduation, I think we are very optimistic about what the ’05 team can accomplish and, in particular, how our incoming freshmen can help strengthen us,” said Brown. “We think the two of them will be extremely valuable to us and very important in where our program is going.”

Notre Dame will return nine of its top 10 players (according to games played) from its 2004 squad that finished 21-9, won both the regular-season (9-1 record) and tournament BIG EAST Conference titles, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament before losing to Wisconsin, which advanced to the national quarterfinals and finished ranked 14th. The Irish were receiving votes in the final AVCA poll, but not ranked in the top 25 (listed 33rd). The only starter gone from that squad will be versatile front-row player Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.).

See below biographical notes on Notre Dame’s 2005 signees, as well as Brown’s thoughts on them.

Mallorie Croal, OH, 6-1, Villa Park, CA, Mater Dei High School, Golden West VBC

Irish Head Coach Debbie Brown on Mallorie Croal:

“Mallorie has a lot of high-level experience. She earned a lot of high school and club honors, and she is someone we believe can come in and have a legitimate shot to compete right away and really raise the level of play in our gym. She is a really solid all-around player with good back-row skills, in terms of passing and defense and also hitting out of the back row. She has been a `go to’ player for both her high school team and her club team since she was a sophomore, so she has taken a ton of swings and developed shots to become a huge offensive weapon.”

Mallorie Croal Bio Notes:

Named a high school All-American as a junior and senior by prepvolleyball.com … tabbed California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) State Division II MVP in 2003 … helped Mater Dei High School to state finals in both of final two seasons … named to CIF state Division II all-championship team in 2004 … tabbed CIF Southern Section (CIFSS) Division II Player of the Year as a sophomore, junior, and senior … named a club All-American in the 18s open division while helping the Golden West Volleyball Club to a national bronze medal in 2004 … served as that squad’s captain … four-year varsity starter for Mater Dei was her team’s and the Sierra League’s MVP in each of her final three seasons … named Orange County Player of the Year as a senior after garnering all-county accolades as a sophomore and junior … tabbed to the Los Angeles Times all-southern California team three times … captained prep team in final two seasons … helped prep squad to three CIFSS Division II championships (2001-03) and one runner-up result (’04) … earned various all-tournament accolades … boasts 4.40 cumulative grade-point average and received National Merit Scholar Letter of Commendation … will join former Golden West teammate Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos H.S.), who was Notre Dame’s starting setter as a rookie in 2004 … will be the second Mater Dei graduate to play volleyball for the Irish, following OH Kathy Baker (Fountain View, California Juniors VBC), who played in 129 games from 1984-87 and averaged 2.64 kills, 3.04 digs, and 0.85 blocks … will be the 22nd California native to join the Notre Dame volleyball program (more than any other state – Indiana is second with 18).

Justine Stremick, MB, 6-2, Langdon, ND, Langdon Area High School

Irish Head Coach Debbie Brown on Justine Stremick:

“We are really excited about what Justine can bring to the program. She is someone who does not have a lot of experience [did not play club volleyball], but is very gifted physically, has good height, good jumping ability, and good lateral movement. For a middle blocker, that is exactly what we are looking for. We think it is a good situation, because we have some experienced middle blockers back next year. So Justine will be able to come in and learn right away. We expect her to have a pretty fast learning curve and to be able to compete at a high level pretty quickly, even though she doesn’t have that kind of experience. Here it is her senior year, and it will be the first time she is playing club, just because of where she lives. But physically, she is very talented and was a multi-sport athlete. We had the opportunity to have her in camp last year, and she is extremely coachable, so we are excited about what she will bring.”

Justine Stremick Bio Notes:

Named the North Dakota Gatorade State Volleyball Player of the Year … tabbed North Dakota Class B Outstanding Senior Volleyball Co-Player of the Year, along with her twin sister, Briana, who has committed to play for Army next year … earned all-state and all-state-tournament honors three times each … helped Langdon High School to undefeated state championship in 2003 and was part of an 88-match winning streak … did not play club volleyball … set Langdon records for kills in a season (546 in 2002) and blocks in a season (125 in 2004) … in five years on its varsity team, accumulated 1,790 kills, 951 digs, 266 aces, 399 blocks … four-year varsity starter and letter winner … earned all-conference accolades three times … served as team co-captain for two years … helped Langdon to five consecutive regional titles … in 2004, finished with 429 kills, 221 digs, 125 blocks, and 121 service aces … will be just the second North Dakota native ever to be on the Irish volleyball roster … Bismarck native and Bismarck High School graduate OH/MH Jeanette Jacot was on the 1989 Notre Dame team, but did not see action.