Sept. 16, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. –
The 18th-ranked University of Notre Dame volleyball team (7-2) continues a seven-match homestand and concludes a stretch of five contests in the Joyce Center in eight days on Wednesday, playing host to Purdue (7-2) at 7 p.m. (EST). Notre Dame has won six of the last eight meetings with the Boilermakers, but lost 3-2 a year ago after capturing the opening two games.
LIVE STATS & AUDIO BROADCAST AVAILABLE ON www.und.com: Fans and media unable to attend Notre Dame home matches can follow the action via live statistics on the official Irish athletic website. Live stats can be accessed at http://und.ocsn.com/livestats/w-volley. Be advised, however, that statistics displayed are not official. In addition, Purdue’s radio team will provide a live internet audio broadcast of the match, which also can be accessed via www.und.com for subscribers of College Sports Pass. For other ways to follow the Irish, see “Keeping Up With ND Volleyball” on page 7 of this release.
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 12+ seasons, Brown has guided Notre Dame to a winning record every year, compiling a 307-104 (.747) mark. The Irish have earned 11 consecutive berths to the NCAA Championship, including three trips to the round of 16 (1994, ’95, and ’97) and a ’93 quarterfinal finish. Since joining the BIG EAST Conference in ’95, Notre Dame has dominated the league, winning seven regular-season and seven tournament titles in eight years. Overall, the Irish are 87-4 in regular-season BIG EAST play and 16-1 in conference tournament action. Notre Dame is 49-0 in BIG EAST matches in the Joyce Center.
The 2003 Irish team returns 12 monogram winners and six starters from last year’s squad that was 24-8 and earned the No. 16 seed in the NCAA Championship, playing host to first- and second-round play. The Irish also finished second in the nation in blocks per game (3.66) with all the players responsible for that number returning to the fold.
This year’s squad features a new 6-2 rotation, with senior S Kristen Kinder (the ’01 BIG EAST Setter of the Year) and sophomore S Kelly Burrell combining to orchestrate the attack. On the right side, junior OPP/OH Emily Loomis, the ’02 BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player and a preseason all-conference selection, leads the Irish in kills after doing the same a year ago. Against Valparaiso last week, Loomis set a school record for most kills in a match without an error (24). Senior OPP Katie Neff also returns for her second year as a major contributor, rotating in off the bench for front-row play. The middle is patrolled by a pair of sophomores named Lauren. MB Lauren Kelbley, the ’02 BIG EAST and AVCA Northeast Region Rookie of the Year, and MB Lauren Brewster, who set the Notre Dame record for block assists (161) last year, return for the Irish after stepping in immediately as freshman starters. Kelbley was the tournament MVP of the Longhorn Classic, while Brewster copped the honor in the Shamrock Invitational. On the left side, OH Jessica Kinder, twin sister of Kristen, and OH Meg Henican provide a great deal of punch. Both are outstanding defensively, with Henican occasionally seeing time at libero and Kinder having set a school record for digs in a three-game match (28) last week vs. Valparaiso. L Danielle Herndon, the lone freshman on the Irish, is the starting libero.
LAST TIME ON THE COURT: Notre Dame struggled offensively throughout the weekend, but still won two of three matches in the Shamrock Invitational. The Irish defeated Indiana in four games (30-24, 30-23, 28-30, 30-19) on Friday before playing a pair of teams listed just outside the national top 25 to complete the weekend. Notre Dame outlasted Utah 3-2 (34-32, 16-30, 30-26, 26-30, 15-12) on Saturday before falling to South Carolina in four (30-26, 30-27, 24-30, 31-29) on Sunday. Three Irish players earned all-tournament honors, which were based only on the first two days of action: senior OPP Katie Neff (St. Louis, Mo./Cor Jesu Academy), senior co-captain OH Jessica Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.), and sophomore MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.), who earned MVP honors.
Against Indiana, Notre Dame got good hitting performances from a pair of players. Neff had 11 kills and just two errors for a .375 hitting percentage, while Brewster also registered 11 kills, on .348 hitting. Junior OPP/OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) led Notre Dame in kills with 16. Notre Dame’s net play was a big reason the Indiana offense had trouble, with the Irish registering a season-high 16 blocks. Leading the way was sophomore MB Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.), who was in on seven, while Brewster took part in six blocks.
After losing the first two points in the decisive game vs. Utah, the Irish built an 11-4 lead. Following a Ute rally, Notre Dame finally converted on its third match point, getting a kill from Kelbley, who led the Irish in kills with 13. Defensively, Jessica Kinder had 23 digs, while Brewster and Neff both posted career highs in blocks, with 13 and nine, respectively.
In the loss, Brewster led Notre Dame with 15 kills, while Kelbley had 12 on a team-best .310 attack percentage. Loomis had 14 kills, while freshman L Danielle Herndon (Plant City, Fla./Durant H.S.) and sophomore OH Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) led the way defensively, both posting season-best dig totals, with 20 and 17, respectively. Jessica Kinder also had 14.
IRISH DROP THREE SPOTS TO 18TH: After losing to South Carolina on Sunday but posting a 3-1 mark for the week, Notre Dame dropped three spots to 18th in this week’s USA Today/AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25, released Monday. The Irish were 15th last week, which marked the highest listing for Notre Dame since Sept. 30, 1996, when it was 12th.
Four ’03 Irish opponents are listed in this week’s top 25, including three in the top 10. Stanford (Nov. 29, away) leads the way at fourth, while Northern Iowa (Nov. 11, away) is sixth, Pepperdine (L, 1-3) is seventh, and Arizona (W, 3-1) is 16th. North Carolina (Oct. 21, away), South Carolina (L, 1-3), and Utah (W, 3-2) received votes, but were not in the top 25.
IRISH DOMINATE SHAMROCK ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Three Notre Dame players earned all-tournament honors, which were based solely on the first two days of play, in the Shamrock Invitational. Sophomore MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) was named the event MVP after posting a career-high 13 blocks vs. Utah, while senior OPP Katie Neff (St. Louis, Mo./Cor Jesu Academy) and senior OH Jessica Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.) were named to the all-tournament team. Throughout the weekend, Brewster had 33 kills and 22 blocks (1.69), while accounting for a team-high 48.5 points. Neff registered 30 kills on .244 hitting, the top percentage on the team. She also had 14 blocks. Kinder led the Irish with 47 digs (3.62), while adding 17 kills, seven aces, five assists, and three blocks.
BLOCK PARTY: Once again, Notre Dame has one of the best blocking units in the nation. The Irish have 105.5 blocks in nine matches this seson, an average of 2.93 per game, which is good enough for 16th among Division I teams. Stanford is first at 3.72 blocks per game. Notre Dame moved past Connecticut this week to take the top spot in team blocks in the BIG EAST Conference. In 2002, the Irish finished second nationally to Nebraska with a school-record average of 3.83.
SCHOOL RECORD I — JESS DIG IT: Last Tuesday vs. Valparaiso, Notre Dame senior co-captain OH Jessica Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.) set a Notre Dame record with 28 digs, the most ever by an Irish player in a three-game match. Her performance, which featured 10 digs in the first game, three in the second, and 15 in the final frame, bettered the previous record by three. Tracey Shelton scrambled for 25 digs in a three-game win over Butler on Oct. 25, 1989. Other than Shelton and Kinder, no other Irish players have ever had more than 21 digs in a straight-game match. Kinder’s previous career high was 22 vs. Pepperdine last September in a five-game affair. She came into Tuesday having registered 40 digs over the first five matches of the season. Kinder’s 28 were the most in any length match for an Irish player since October 25, 1993, when Christy Peters had 31 at Arizona State in a four-game contest.
SCHOOL RECORD II — LETHAL LOOMIS: In the Sept. 9 Valparaiso match, junior OPP/OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) set a Notre Dame record for most kills in a match without an error (24), while falling just shy of the school record for kills in a three-game match. The previous mark for most kills without an error was 23, done by Jaimie Lee on September 8, 1995 at Indiana in a five-game victory. Just seven days after that match, Angie Harrris had 25 kills in a three-game win against Colorado, setting the record for kills in a 3-0 decision. Loomis joined Christy Peters in the 24-kill club in three-game matches. Peters turned the trick in a straight-game defeat against Long Beach State in Chicago on September 11, 1993. Against Valpo, Loomis had 42 attack attempts for a .571 attack percentage.
IRISH AMONG THE BIG EAST LEADERS: A number of Irish players are among the BIG EAST Conference statistical leaders through three weeks of play. Junior OPP/OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) is among the top 10 in three different categories: hitting percentage (9th, .325), kills (8th, 3.81), and points (8th, 4.38). Sophomore MB Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) is listed among the leaders in both blocks (9th, 1.17) and points (10th, 4.31), while sophomore MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) is fifth in blocks (1.28) and senior OH Jessica Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.) is eighth in aces (0.44).
In the team statistics, Notre Dame leads the conference in blocks, at 2.93 per game. The Irish are in the top five in four other categories: hitting percentage (5th, .222), opponent hitting percentage (5th, .180), assists (5th, 13.17), and kills (4th, 14.94).
YOU DIG ME?: After averaging just 11.80 digs per game through the first six matches, the lowest average in the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame’s defense exploded last week for 284 in four matches, including three contests with 70 or more, for an average of 17.8 per game. Against Valparaiso, Notre Dame had 81 in just three games. The performance was just seven shy of the school record for digs in a three-game match. On October 18, 1991, the Irish had 88 in a three-game win vs. Butler. The 81 digs marked the most by the Irish in any length match since they had 108 in five games against Illinois State on Nov. 14, 2001.
HOME STREAK SNAPPED AT 35: Notre Dame’s loss to South Carolina on Sunday snapped a 36-match regular-season winning streak in the Joyce Center for the Irish. The previous non-postseason home defeat was on September 23, 2000 to #7 Colorado State.
Notre Dame is 204-67 (.753) all-time in the Joyce Center, including 150-22 (.872) under head coach Debbie Brown. Since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995, Notre Dame has never lost at home to a league opponent, posting a 49-0 record.
COLD HITTING: Notre Dame struggled offensively throughout the Shamrock Invitational, posting a .167 hitting percentage combined in the three matches. The Irish hit just .138 in the 3-2 win against Utah, marking the worst hitting night since a 2001 NCAA tournament loss to Michigan State. It also was the lowest attack percentage in a Notre Dame win since November 14, 1998, when the Irish hit .133 in a 3-2 victory at Pittsburgh.
Notre Dame followed that match up by hitting .165 in a four-game loss to South Carolina. Prior to the weekend, the Irish had not hit .165 or worse in consecutive matches since September 8-9, 2001, vs. #1 Nebraska (.130) and #15 Pepperdine (.129).
In 13 games played in the Shamrock Invitational, the Irish never hit better than .289 and were below .200 on nine occasions, including .000 and .089 games vs. Utah (second and fourth games).
PACKING THEM IN: After opening the season with five consecutive road matches, Notre Dame played four contests at home last week, averaging 850 fans per contest. The Irish currently rank 18th in the nation in average attendance and are the only team in the Northeast Region among the top 25. Hawaii is first at 7,221 per match. Among Notre Dame’s road opponents in the leaders are Northern Iowa (Nov. 11) at fifth (2,052 avg.), Stanford (Nov. 29) at seventh (1,880), and Texas (W, 3-0) at 13th (1,388).
Notre Dame’s season-opening crowd of 828 vs. Valparaiso marked the best opening-night turnout for the Irish since 1,350 fans were at the 1997 opener vs. Louisville. It was a 30 percent hike from last season’s first home match and continued a streak of increased attendance at Irish volleyball matches. Dating back to last season, 10 of the last 11 matches have featured crowds of at least 800. In 2002, Notre Dame averaged 1,064 fans per contest throughout the season, good enough for 25th in the nation.
FIVE IN A ROW (AGAIN): Notre Dame’s victories in in the Shamrock Invitational gave it a six-match winning streak heading into Sunday’s defeat. Friday’s win gave the Irish a five-match streak, marking the 13th consecutive season (every year under head coach Debbie Brown) that Notre Dame put together at least one winning streak of five or more. The Irish had three in 2002, winning five straight in mid-September, seven in a row to end that month and begin October, and six in a row to end October and begin November.
HIGH AS A KITE: A number of Irish players have registered career highs already this season. Some of the more notable performances are highlighted below.
Sophomore MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.) turned in three career bests against #5 Pepperdine on Aug. 30, with 17 kills on 29 attempts for a .483 attack percentage (her best in a four-game match). Brewster also matched her career-high of six digs against Texas and set a new best in hitting percentage in a five-game match with a .476 mark vs. Houston. More recently, she had a career-best 13 blocks vs. Utah.
Sophomore MB Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) set career-high marks in kills twice already this season, most recently with 22 vs. Houston. She then had a career-high 45 attacks against Utah.
Senior OH Jessica Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.) set a pair of personal bests against Houston, dishing out 10 assists and hitting .368, her best career mark in a five-game match. In addition, she had a career-high 28 digs vs. Valparaiso, in setting an Irish record for digs in a three-game match. Against South Carolina, she matched her personal best with four service aces.
Sophomore S Kelly Burrell (Phoenix, Ariz./Xavier Preparatory School) had a career-best 12 digs vs. Texas and delivered three service aces vs. Utah after never having multiple aces previously in her career.
Senior OPP Katie Neff (St. Louis, Mo./Cor Jesu Academy) had a career-high nine blocks vs. Utah and hit .375 against Indiana, her top career mark in a four-game match.
Sophomore OH Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) had a big Shamrock Invitational, hitting career highs in each match. Against Indiana, she had five blocks. In the Utah match, she had 31 attack attempts and a .226 hitting percentage (her best in a five-game affair). On Sunday, Henican matched her career high with three assists.
Junior OPP/OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) posted a career-best 24 kills vs. Valparaiso. Also in the Valpo match, junior DS/MB Kelly Corbett (Mountain View, Calif./St. Francis H.S.) had a career-high six digs and sophomore MB/OPP Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas/Lutheran South Academy) posted personal bests with six kills and two aces.
IRISH vs. BOILERMAKERS: Purdue comes to the Joyce Center with a 7-2 record, having lost in the final of a pair of tournaments before winning their own Mortar Board Premier last weekend. The Boiler losses came in three games to Wisconsin-Milwaukee and in five games to Rice. Purdue has victories against Saint Louis, William & Mary, McNeese State, Duquesne, Mississippi State, Middle Tennessee State, and Indiana State. They opened the season in the Billiken Invitational in St. Louis and played in the Rice Invitational in week two.
In 2002, the Boilermakers also started 7-2, but faltered to finish 12-21 (2-18 Big Ten) and tied for 10th in the Big Ten Conference. Purdue returns six letterwinners, including four starters, from that team. Among them are sophomore S Ranata Dargan, who was selected to the Big Ten all-freshman team a year ago. Her guidance has the Boilermaker attack ranked in the national top 20 in three categories. Purdue is tied for 11th in kills (17.00), while ranking 13th in assists (15.41) and 16th in hitting percentage (.282). Individually, Dargan is 25th in the nation in assists at 12.66 per game. Though she is also an offensive threat (59/1.84 kills, .357), Dargan has four favorite targets in the Purdue arsenal. Junior MH Kim McConaha leads the team in kills (131/4.09) and is hitting .314. Meanwhile, sophomore Leah Wischmeier has 112 (3.50) and both junior LS Kim Cappa (3.07) and freshman RS Melanie Ukovich (2.87) have 89. Defensively, McConaha paces the net game with 44 blocks (1.38), while sophomore DS Jennifer Orlowski (63/2.17) and junior DS Daren Poe (62/3.10) join Dargan (70/2.19) as the leaders in digs. The setter also has the most dangerous serve on the team, with 19 aces (0.59)
Dave Shondell is in his first season as head coach of Purdue, having led the Muncie Central High School program for the last 14 years, while also helming the Munciana Club team from 1988-2003. His only previous collegiate experience was one year (1981) as an assistant men’s volleyball coach at Ball State, his alma mater.
The Irish and Boilermakers will meet for the second year in a row and 18th time overall. Purdue’s 11 wins mark the most by any school against Notre Dame in the history of the Irish varsity program. The Boilermakers won each of the first nine matches, but Notre Dame has won six of eight since 1989. After a five-year hiatus from the series, the Irish traveled to West Lafayette a year ago only to lose after winning the opening two games of the match. Notre Dame had won the previous five meetings, including three straight 3-0 decisions. The Irish have won four in a row in the Joyce Center against the Boilermakers, with Purdue last leaving with a victory in 1987.
In the 2002 meeting, Notre Dame, which was just four days removed from an upset of #10 Pepperdine, came out hot, hitting .400 in the first game to win 30-18. But after capturing game two 31-29, it was all Boilermakers. Purdue won the final three 30-27, 30-26, 15-6 to upset the Irish. The Boilers hit .415 combined over the final two games, while Notre Dame had just two kills and four errors (-.167) in the decisive game. Joanna Lowry, who tragically passed away last March after a brief struggle with mental illness, led Purdue’s attack with 29 kills on .407 hitting. McConaha added 21 on a .400 attack percentage. Dargan’s offense hit .298 for the day, while she had 60 assists. Defensively, Cappa had 13 digs and Poe had 12. For Notre Dame, OPP/OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) had 21 kills on .471 hitting to go along with 10 digs. OH Jessica Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.) had 15 kills, while OPP Katie Neff (St. Louis, Mo./Cor Jesu Acadmey) had a dozen and MB Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) delivered 11 on .400 hitting. S Kristen Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.) orchestrated an attack that hit .304 for the match, while she had 60 assists. Keara Coughlin had 11 digs.
BACK IN THE BEND: Mishawaka native and Marian High School graduate Katie Kirsch, a sophomore defensive specialist for Purdue, will return to her childhood stomping grounds on Wednesday. Kirsch was a three-time all-state selection playing volleyball and softball at Marian before enrolling at IU-South Bend a year ago. After transferring to Purdue prior to this season, she has played in one game.
In addition, sophomore defensive specialist Jennifer Orlowski is a native of La Porte and a graduate of La Porte High School. She went to Florida State a year ago before transferring to Purdue. Orlowski has been a regular for the Boilers, ranking second on the team with 63 digs.
HEAD COACH Debbie Brown: Irish head coach Debbie Brown is in her 13th season at the helm of the Notre Dame program. She has led the Irish to a 307-104 (.747) mark, while holding a 424-187 (.694) overall record. Brown’s Notre Dame teams have earned 11 consecutive NCAA tournament berths, advancing to the regional finals in 1993 and the regionals in ’94, ’95, and ’97. An eight-time conference coach of the year (4 MCC, 3 BIG EAST, 1 Pac-10), she has coached four Irish players to All-America honors, while 20 have gained all-BIG EAST mention since 1995. The Irish also have claimed 11 regular-season conference titles (4 Midwestern Collegiate, 7 BIG EAST) and 11 league tournament crowns (4 MCC, 7 BIG EAST). The captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic volleyball team after winning a pair of national championships and earning All-America honors twice 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.
PRESEASON BIG EAST FAVORITES: Once again Notre Dame is the favorite in the BIG EAST Conference. The Irish, who have captured seven regular-season and seven tournament crowns in their eight years in the league, garnered nine first-place votes and were chosen as the favorite in the preseason volleyball poll of conference head coaches. Miami gained four first-place votes and was picked second with 136 points. The teams will meet in the Joyce Center on November 9 in a match televised by College Sports Television (CSTV) in its Sunday Night Spike national match-of-the-week package.
Two Irish players, junior OPP/OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) and sophomore middle blocker Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.), were selected to the preseason all-BIG EAST team. Loomis was the Most Outstanding Player in the ’02 BIG EAST Championship, while Kelbley was the conference rookie of the year.
LOOMIS, KELBLEY FIRST TWO BIG EAST PLAYERS OF WEEK: Sophomore MB Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) was named a BIG EAST Co-Player of the Week Sept. 8 after her tournament-MVP performance in the Longhorn Classic. Kelbley followed teammate OPP/OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.), who was named the first conference player of the week of the season on Sept. 1.
In the Longhorn Classic, Kelbley slammed 30 kills, while making just five errors for a .446 attack percentage. In addition, she was in on a team-high 14 blocks. Against Houston, Kelbley registered a career-high 22 kills on .462 hitting to go along with eight blocks in helping the Irish to a come-from-behind 3-2 victory. She hit .412 vs. host Texas, while notching eight kills (with only one error) and six blocks.
Loomis led the Irish with 42 kills and 14 blocks in the opening weekend of play, while posting a .365 hitting percentage. Against #10 Arizona, she had 14 kills and only two errors for a .522 attack percentage. In the Eastern Washington match, she hit .412, registering 18 kills. Overall, she was responsible for 51 points.
The two-week stretch marked the first time since Nov. 5 & 12 of 2001 that Notre Dame grabbed the BIG EAST Player of the Week award in consecutive weeks, with Kristy Kreher and Kristen Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.) earning shares of the award in back-to-back weeks. Since then, only one other school has accomplished the feat, with Pittsburgh’s Megan Miller copping player-of-the-week honors in consecutive weeks a year ago (Sept. 23 & 30).
ALL-TOURNAMENT TWOSOME: Irish junior OPP/OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) and sophomore MB Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) made a habit of earning all-tournament honors early this year. The pair was named to the Four Points Sheraton Classic all-tournament team in the opening weekend, helping Notre Dame to a 2-1 record highlighted by an upset of #10 Arizona. In the second weekend, Loomis and Kelbley were named to the Longhorn Classic all-tournament team, with the latter being named the event’s MVP.
In the first weekend, Loomis had 42 kills on .365 hitting and was in on 14 blocks. Kelbley slammed 39 kills on a .360 attack percentage. In the most recent tournament, Loomis had 29 kills with a .368 hitting percentage, while Kelbley hit 30 on .446 hitting to go along with 14 blocks.
THE HARDER THEY FALL: Notre Dame’s season-opening 3-1 victory over #10 Arizona in the Four Points Sheraton Classic gave the Irish a top-10 upset in each of the last two seasons. On September 14, 2002, Notre Dame outlasted 10th-ranked Pepperdine in the championship match of the Golden Dome Invitational in the Joyce Center. The win over the Wildcats was the eighth in the program’s history over a top-10 opponent.
HAIL TO THE CHAMPIONS: Notre Dame’s championship in the Longhorn Classic marked the fourth consecutive season the Irish have come away with at least one in-season tournament title, but was the first for Notre Dame outside the Joyce Center since the 2000 Lady Seminole Classic. The Irish won the Shamrock Invitational in each of the last three seasons and also were victorious in the ’02 Golden Dome Invitational
START ME UP: By defeating Arizona, Notre Dame stayed perfect in season openers in the 13-year tenure of head coach Debbie Brown. Overall, Brown is 18-1 in season openers, including 5-1 at Arizona State, while the Irish are 19-5 all-time. This season marked just the third time in the Brown era that Notre Dame opened on the road and the first time since 1990 the Irish opened outside the state of Indiana.
The season opener also was the first time Notre Dame played a ranked opponent in the first match of the season. The win was the first-ever for Notre Dame over a nationally-ranked foe in the month of August. Overall, the Irish are 12-3 all-time in August.
In beating Valparaiso, Notre Dame continued its tremendous success in home openers, winning its first home match in each of the last 14 years, including all 13 under head coach Debbie Brown. The last time Notre Dame lost its home opener was 1989, when Western Michigan gained a five-game triumph in the Notre Dame Invitational. Overall, the Irish are 18-5 in home openers.
COMING ALL THE WAY BACK: Notre Dame’s victory against Houston marked the first time the Irish lost the first two games before rallying for a win since Sept. 2, 2000. On that date, Notre Dame lost the opening games (15-5, 15-10) to #15 BYU before coming back with a trio of 15-10 game victories to pull the upset in the Joyce Center. It had been since Nov. 14, 1999 since the Irish overcame a 2-0 deficit for victory away from home. Georgetown took the first two games (15-1, 15-11) before Notre Dame ran off wins of 15-7, 15-6, and 17-15 to preserve an undefeated conference record in the regular-season finale.
MARATHON GAMES: After having never scored more than 35 points in a game prior to this season, the Irish accomplished that feat twice in just over a week. On Aug. 30, Notre Dame outlasted Eastern Washington 37-35 in the opening game of a 3-1 victory, setting an Irish record for points in a game. Then, on Sept. 6, Notre Dame edgjed Texas 36-34 in the second game of a 3-0 win. The previous Irish record for points in a game was 35, in a 37-35 second-game loss to Virginia Tech on Nov. 17, 2002.
TALL TEAM: Only six teams in the nation have a taller average height than Notre Dame’s ’03 squad. The 14 Irish players have an average height of 6-0, which is bettered only by Illinois, Pacific, Pepperdine, Saint Louis, USC, and Texas. In addition, only eight players in Division I are taller than senior OPP Katie Neff’s (St. Louis, Mo./Cor Jesu Academy) 6-4 frame.
AMAZING ACADEMICS: For the second year in a row, Notre Dame earned an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award. The Irish, which had a team grade-point average of 3.348 during the 2002-03 year, were one of just four Division I teams to earn the Team Academic Award and also win at least one match in the ’02 NCAA Championship. The award honors teams that display excellence in the classroom by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team GPA. Other than the Irish, only Kansas State, Nebraska, and Northern Iowa gained the Team Academic Award and advanced at least to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Leading the way academically for the Irish were a trio of veterans. Senior Kim Fletcher (St. Louis, Mo./Nerinx Hall H.S.) earned a 4.000 GPA in both semesters of the most recent academic year, while classmate Kristen Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.) duplicated the feat in the fall and ’03 graduate Keara Coughlin posted a perfect GPA in her final semester. As a team, the Irish had a 3.438 GPA in the spring, the second-highest among Notre Dame’s 26 varsity squads.
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 varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the match recaps and weekly releases provided on the official athletic 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 eight contests available to College Sports Pass subscribers supplement the regular match previews and recaps. All three Shamrock Invitational matches (Sept. 12-14), as well as both BIG EAST Championship contests (Nov. 22-23) and the conference tilts with Georgetown (Sept. 28), Virginia Tech (Nov. 7), and Miami (Nov. 9) will feature live broadcasts.
In addition, media members and fans may be added to the sports information e-mail release list by contacting sports information assistant 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.