Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Irish Volleyball Battles Michigan For First Time Since 1996

Oct. 5, 1999

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The Irish finished their first weekend of BIG EAST play with two, three-game victories over West Virginia and Pittsburgh. Notre Dame did not allow either of its opponents to get into double digits as the team defeated West Virginia, 15-7, 15-6, 15-9, and Pittsburgh, 15-5, 15-6, 15-6.

Senior captain Mary Leffers (Tampa, Fla.) contributed a team-best in both kills (18) and blocks (7) against the Mountaineers, while Christi Girton’s (Muncie, Ind.) 12 kills on Sunday led the team to victory against Pittsburgh.

The Second Time is a Charm
For the second time this season, Mary Leffers was named BIG EAST Co-Player of the Week following strong performances in Notre Dame’s two matches last weekend. Leffers, who received the same honor September 6, shares the award this week with Rutgers’ Lola Opadiran.

Leffers, a middle blocker, helped the Irish to victories over BIG EAST Conference foes West Virginia and Pittsburgh. Against West Virginia on Friday night, Leffers led the team with a career-best 18 kills on .567 hitting and seven blocks. Two days later, the senior captain contributed 10 kills on .421 hitting with six blocks in the 3-0 win over Pittsburgh.

For the week, Leffers averaged 4.67 kills per game on .510 hitting with a 2.17 blocks per game average.

Shake up in the BIG EAST
After the opening weekend of conference play, Notre Dame and Rutgers are the only unbeaten teams in the BIG EAST. Eight of the conference’s 12 squads split their openers, while Pittsburgh and Villanova lost both of their matches.

Notable match results from the first week of conference play included Rutgers’s 3-1 victory over 1998 regular season co-champ Georgetown and Boston College’s five-game win against ’98 regular season co-champ Connecticut. BC’s win over the Huskies was the Eagles first BIG EAST win under second-year head coach Jackie Haydel after the team finished 0-12 in 1998.

Two More Than the Minimum
With an 8-3 record overall, only one of Notre Dame’s 11 matches have gone more than the minimum three games.

The Irish opened with three-game wins over Valparaiso, Northwestern, Louisville, Kentucky and Miami. Notre Dame also suffered three-game losses to Pacific and Clemson before finally playing their first match of more than three games on September 24 against Wyoming.

Since then, the Irish have played three more three-game matches against Colorado State, West Virginia and Pittsburgh.

Leffers Leads The Way
Senior Mary Leffers fell just slightly in last week’s NCAA national statistics in blocks per game. Leffers was fourth in the country with a 1.86 blocks per game average after being tied two weeks ago for second in the country with a 1.90 average.

Notre Dame as a team was ranked 19th overall with a 3.12 block per game average.

Scouting the Wolverines
Tuesday will be the first meeting between Notre Dame and Michigan since 1996 when the Irish staged a 3-2 comeback win at Michigan.

Michigan will look to end a three-game skid after starting the season with a 8-1 record and posting notable wins over Brigham Young (3-0), Arkansas (3-1) and Ohio State (3-2).

The Wolverines, under the direction of first-year head Marc Rosen, are led by outside hitter Nicole Kacor, who is averaging 3.91 kills per game and 3.67 digs per game. Junior Joanna Fielder also contributes more than three kills a game (3.35), while setter Shannon Melka runs the Wolverine offense.

Notre Dame leads the all-time series, 6-1, which includes a current six-match win streak.

Hitting the Road
After playing host to Michigan on Tuesday, the Irish will head to Rutgers (Oct. 9) and Seton Hall (Oct. 10) for a pair of BIG EAST matches.

Last year, the Irish beat the Scarlet Knights in four games and swept the Pirates in three. The Irish are unbeaten in the two all-time series with a 5-0 mark against Rutgers and a 4-0 record versus Seton Hall.

Scouting the Scarlet Knights
The Irish will face Rutgers (9-8 overall, 2-0 BIG EAST) Saturday in a clash of the only two unbeaten teams in the BIG EAST.

Under head coach Ann Leonard-House, the Scarlet Knights recorded wins over both Georgetown (3-1) and Villanova (3-2).

Offensively, Rutgers will look to outside hitters Lola Opadiran and Kera Carter, who are both averaging more than four kills and three digs per game. Sophomore setter Ginger Schuster will run the Scarlet Knight offense, which returns four of its six starters from last year’s squad which advance to the semifinals of the BIG EAST Tournament.

So far this season, the Scarlet Knight have two notable losses against Louisville (1-3) and Colorado State (0-3). The Irish beat Louisville earlier in the year (3-0) at the Shamrock Invitational, but also lost to Colorado State, 0-3.

Rutgers is slated to play Hofstra Wednesday, Oct. 6, at home before facing the Irish on Saturday.

Scouting the Pirates
Seton Hall (10-5 overall, 1-1 BIG EAST) is one of the eight BIG EAST teams which finished 1-1 in the first weekend of conference play. The Pirates lost to the Hoyas, 0-3, before defeating Villanova in four games.

Under first-year head coach Rich Pickrell, the Pirates are led offensively by co-captain Jennifer Mumby (2.31 kills per game) and sophomore middle blocker Paige Ellertson (2.70 kills per game). Setter Kadri Kruus contributes both offensively with 2.02 kills per game and defensively with a team-best 2.83 digs per game average.

Season Notes

Notre Dame head coach Debbie Brown is tentatively slated to be on the SportsCentral (WHME-TV 46) show with host Bob Nagle on October 26 and November 9.

SportsCentral, which airs Saturdays at 6:30 p.m., is a weekly television show produced by LeSea Broadcasting that keeps fans updated on the progress of all Notre Dame intercollegiate athletic teams. Game footage and interviews with players and coaches are all a part of the half-hour weekly segment that recaps the week’s results and previews upcoming contests.

NCAA Bids Keep Rolling
After qualifying for its seventh straight trip to the NCAAs in 1998, the Notre Dame volleyball program currently has the second-longest active streak of NCAA appearances of any Irish athletic team. The Irish have advanced to the Elite Eight once (1993) and the round of 16 three times (1994, 1995, 1997). Notre Dame has suffered only one first round loss (1992) during that streak.

The only other Notre Dame team to have more is men’s tennis, which has earned eight consecutive bids from (1991-99)

Boylan, Girton Honored
The BIG EAST also released the coaches’ selections for the six-member preseason all-conference squad.

Notre Dame is represented by junior setter Denise Boylan (Lisle, Ill.), last year’s preseason player of the year, and junior outside hitter Christi Girton (Muncie, Ind.), who made the 1998 all-BIG EAST second team.

For other team members, please consult the bar on page three.

Game Change
The Notre Dame-Illinois State match is listed incorrectly on the team’s 1999 schedule card. The match will take place at 7 p.m. on November 3 at the Joyce Center.

Opponents will find something a bit different this year when they visit the Joyce Center at Notre Dame.

Starting this fall, the Irish will be playing on a SPORT COURT, a synthetic playing surface, used at the NCAA championships and by the U.S. national teams.

Head Coach Debbie Brown
Notre Dame head coach Debbie Brown is in her ninth season at Notre Dame and her 15th overall. Brown has compiled a mark of 216-74 with the Irish and has a career record of 333-157, which includes six years at the helm of her alma mater, Arizona State.

In recognition of Brown’s contribution to the University, Notre Dame’s National Monogram Club bestowed upon her an honorary monogram at the annual Monogram Club awards dinner in June 1999. She joins an elite group of six current Irish coaches to have been awarded an honorary monogram.

Notre Dame Third In Student-Athlete Graduation Rates
The University of Notre Dame has been ranked third in overall student-athlete graduation rates among the nation’s Division I-A colleges and universities, according to the latest annual report compiled by the NCAA.

The Sporting News Ranks Notre Dame Third In Survey Of Top Athletic Programs
The Notre Dame athletic program has been ranked third in a major survey by The Sporting News of 112 U.S. colleges who participate in NCAA Division I sports in both football and men’s basketball.

Notre Dame finished behind only Penn State and North Carolina in the survey, which graded the departments on various standards ranging from on-field to academic performance.

1999 Schedule

9/1   Valparaiso             W, 3-0
Shamrock Invitational (Notre Dame, Ind.)9/3 Northwestern W, 3-0 (#6 Pacific 3, Louisville 0)9/4 #6 Pacific L, 0-3 (Louisville 3, Northwestern 1)9/5 Louisville W, 3-0 (#6 Pacific 3, Northwestern 0)
BIG Orange Bash (at Clemson, S.C.)9/11 vs. Kentucky W, 3-09/12 at #18 Clemson L, 0-3
9/18 Miami (Ohio) W, 3-09/24 at Wyoming W, 3-29/25 at #17 Colorado State L, 0-310/1 West Virginia* W, 3-010/3 Pittsburgh* W, 3-010/5 Michigan 7 p.m.10/9 at Rutgers* 2 p.m.10/10 at Seton Hall* 1 p.m.10/17 USPV (Exhib.) 2 p.m.10/19 at BYU 7 p.m.10/20 at Utah 7 p.m.10/ 22 St John's* 7 p.m.10/24 Connecticut* 2 p.m.10/30 at Boston College* 2 p.m.10/31 at Providence* 2 p.m.11/ 3 Illinois State 7 p.m.11/6 Syracuse* 1 p.m.11/13 at Villanova* 1 p.m.11/14 at Georgetown* 1 p.m. BIG EAST Championships 11/19-21 @Pittsburgh, Pa. TBA
Community Bankers Classic (Stockton, Calif.)11/26 vs. Washington St. 5 p.m.11/27 vs. Pacific/Sac. St. TBA
12/ 2-5 NCAA First/Second (TBA)12/ 9-12 NCAA Regionals (TBA)12/16 NCAA Semifinals (University of Hawaii)12/18 NCAA Finals (University of Hawaii)

All times local
*BIG EAST Conference Matches

AVCA/USA Today Poll
October 5, 1999

Rk  School ('99 rec.)  Points (1st) 1. Penn State (14-1)  1,464 (33) 2. Hawai'i (12-0)     1,458 (24)  3. Pacific (12-1)     1,338 (1) 4. Florida (13-2)     1,289 (1) 5. LBSU (10-2)        1,271 (1) 6. Stanford (11-1)    1,192 7. UCSB (12-2)        1,148 8. Texas (10-2)       1,106 9. UCLA (12-1)        1,02410. BYU (9-2)            92611. Pepperdine (11-1)    87912. Nebraska (10-4)      81513. Clemson (14-0)       77414. Texas A&M (12-2)     75415. Colorado St. (14-0)  67516. Kansas St. (10-2)    62017. USC (8-3)            45618. Arizona (9-4)        43718. Wisconsin (10-4)     43720. Colorado (8-3)       24521. Arkansas (12-4)      24422. Northern Iowa (15-0) 22223. Michigan (8-4)       16524. San Diego (10-3)     10625. LMU (10-5)            98

Others receiving 30 or more points: Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina

Probable Starters

Denise Boylan, Jr. 6-1 (Lisle, Ill.)

Outside Hitters
Marcie Bomhack, So., 6-0 (Waukesha, Wis.)
Christi Girton, Jr., 6-3 (Muncie, Ind.)

Kristy Kreher, So., 6-1 (Birmingham, Mich.)

Middle Blockers
Mary Leffers, Sr., 6-4 (Tampa, Fla.)
Malinda Goralski, So., 6-1 (Missouri City, Texas)

Defensive Specialists
Janie Alderete, Fr., 5-4 (Santa Clara, Calif.)
Keara Coughlin, Fr., 5-7 (Chicago, Ill.)

Volleyball Magazine Poll

Rk  School            1999 Record 1. Penn State        14-1 2. Hawai'i           12-0 3. Pacific           12-1 4. Stanford          11-1 5. Florida           13-2 6. Long Beach State  10-2 7. UC Santa Barbara  12-2 8. UCLA              12-1 9. Texas             10-210. Nebraska          10-411. Pepperdine        11-112. Colorado State    14-013. Brigham Young      9-214. Clemson           14-015. Kansas State      10-216. Texas A&M         12-217. Arizona            9-418. USC                8-319. Northern Iowa     15-020. Wisconsin         10-4


                    Overall  BE 1. NOTRE DAME      8-3      2-0    2. Rutgers         9-8      2-0 3. Georgetown     15-3      1-1 4. Connecticut    10-4      1-1 5. Seton Hall     10-5      1-1 6. St. John's     10-7      1-1 7. Syracuse       10-8      1-1 8. West Virginia   9-10     1-1 9. Providence      6-8      1-110. Boston College  6-9      1-1   11. Pittsburgh      6-6      0-212. Villanova       8-10     0-2

BIG EAST Players of the Week

9/6 – Mary Leffers, Notre Dame
Yulia Vyturina, Georgetown

9/13 – Melissa Alpers, Pittsburgh

9/20 – Kiran Gill, Georgetown
Olga Roudavski, St. John’s

9/27 – Breen Eddinger, Villanova
Dana Fiume, Syracuse

10/4 – Mary Leffers, Notre Dame Lola Opadiran, Rutgers

BIG EAST Rookies of the Week

9/6 – Melissa Wooley, Connecticut
9/13 – Lauren Warner, Georgetown
9/20 – Lauren Warner, Georgetown
9/27 – Erin Birunas, Villanova
10/4 – Lauren Warner, Georgetown