Head Coach Debbie Brown and  the Notre Dame volleyball team are set to open the season against Bowling Green at 7 p.m. on August 26

No. 21 Notre Dame Volleyball to Open Season Against Bowling Green This Weekend

Aug. 25, 2006

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#21 NOTRE DAME (0-0) vs. BOWLING GREEN (0-0)

Date: Saturday, August 26

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Joyce Center, Notre Dame, Ind.

Series: Notre Dame leads 6-2

Last Meeting: 10/13/92 (ND 3-2)

Free Live Stats: www.und.com

Free Live Audio: www.und.com

THE RADIO PLANS: Notre Dame’s official website, und.com, will feature live internet audio of all 12 home matches in 2006. Stephen Hinkel and Chris Masters, two former collegiate volleyball sports information directors and veterans of announcing Notre Dame volleyball will have the call for free all season long.

REAL-TIME STATISTICS: All Irish home matches will have live-in game statistics courtesy of College Sports Online’s GameTracker, via the Notre Dame athletic website, www.und.com.

IN THE BEGINNING: The #21 University of Notre Dame’s volleyball team (0-0) will begin its 2006 season on Saturday evening, August 26, by playing host to Bowling Green (0-0) at 7 p.m. in the Joyce Center. The Irish, the preseason favorite in the BIG EAST Conference and the #21 ranked team in the AVCA/CSTV Pre-Season Poll, return three starters and eight monogram winners from last year’s team that went 30-4 and won both the regular season and the tournament BIG EAST titles, and reached the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament.

QUICK HITS ABOUT THE IRISH: Notre Dame has high hopes for the upcoming 2006 campaign as the squad returns three starters and eight monogram winners … last season ND went 30-4, including a mark of 13-1 in BIG EAST play, which tied them for conference regular season title … Notre Dame won all three games at the BIG EAST Championship in Louisville, Ky. to take the championship title and the automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time … Notre Dame after defeating Dayton and Northwestern in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, advanced to the round of 16 before falling to Wisconsin in five games… all four defeats for Notre Dame during the 2005 season were the five-game variety … the 2006 Fighting Irish were chosen as the favorites in the BIG EAST Conference for 11th time in 12 seasons … ND has not dropped a opening day match since before the Debbie Brown era in 1990 … the Irish will be led by their co-captains senior Danielle Herndon and Adrianna Stasiuk (a-dree-ANN-uh stu-SHEWK) … also returning is junior setter Ashley Tarutis (tuh-ROO-diss), who set a new school record with 1,573 assists last season … joining the strong nucleus this season is one the highest ranked freshman classes in the country (third by Volleyball Magazine and fifth by PrepVolleyball.com) … head coach Debbie Brown returns for her 16th season at the helm of volleyball program … joining the coaching staff this season is former Virginia Tech head coach Greg Smith and Kevin Lane… the Fighting Irish enter the AVCA’s preseason poll at No. 21, which is the highest preseason ranking for the squad since 2001 when the team was ranked 20th … ND will take on nine teams in 10 matches this season that were participants in the 2005 NCAA Volleyball Tournament … for the fourth consecutive season Notre Dame will have a television match, this time against #13 Missouri on CSTV on September 2 … ND has four matches on home football weekends this season … Danielle Herndon is the lone senior on the team, the first time since 1983 that the Notre Dame roster will only have one senior … over the last 15 years Notre Dame is an impressive 180-29 (.861) at the Joyce Center … the Fighting Irish has compiled a overall record of 120-7 (.945) including a record of 67-1 at the Joyce Center during regular season play against BIG EAST competition since joining the conference in 1995.

SCOUTING BOWLING GREEN: The Falcons are coming off a 18-14 season in 2005 and return nine letterwinners and five starters to this year’s squad … Bowling Green was the preseason pick to finish third in the East Division of the Mid-American Conference, the same place BGSU finished in 2005 with an 8-8 conference record … Falcons head coach Denise Van Den Walle (415-297) captured her 400th career win during the 2005 season against Chicago State and looks to win her 200th regular season MAC match during the upcoming season … Van Den Walle, now entering her 20th season at the helm of Bowling Green, has led the Falcons to winning seasons 15 times in her tenure and has been named the MAC Coach of the Year four times in her career … among the starters returning are senior setter Chrissy Gothke, junior middle hitter Stephanie Swiger and redshirt sophomore middle hitter Kendra Halm … Gothke, the team’s only senior, led the squad with 1,118 assist last season … with her 1,000 assists a year ago Gothke, who also has over 1,000 career digs, became just the second Falcon player to hit the millennium mark in both categories … Swiger blocked 108 shots, which is the most among returning players this season … Halm is the best all-around player on the team with 250 kills, 105 blocks and 309 points in 2005 … replacing a pair of graduated left-side hitters will be the key to success for Bowling Green … Three new faces will join the Falcons this season in Milica Askic, Corey Domenk and Shari Luther.

SERIES VS. BOWLING GREEN: This the ninth time that the Fighting Irish and the Falcons have met on the volleyball court, but the first time since 1992 … the 1992 match was a five game affair that saw #23 Notre Dame defeat Bowling Green 15-10, 9-15, 15-8, 11-15, 18-16 at the Joyce Center … in that match Jessica Fiebelkorn recorded 34 digs, which is still the fifth highest total at Notre Dame … The Fighting Irish also recorded 131 digs as a team during the ’92 match, which is the second highest total for the school … the series dates back to Oct. 2, 1984 with a four game victory by the Irish 13-15, 16-14, 17-15, 16-14 … this will be one of two matches against Mid-American Conference team’s this season (the other is Ohio on Nov. 24) … ND has not played against teams from the MAC since a 2001 five-game victory at Toledo.

A FAMILIAR FACE: Former Notre Dame volleyball player Laura Kelbley (2002-05) is a member of the Bowling Green coaching staff as a volunteer assistant this season. Kelbley ended her Notre Dame career last season ranking among the top-ten in several categories. Kelbley is third in attack attempts (3,510) and kills average (3.35), fifth in career kills (1,463), sixth in attack percentage (.291) tied for eighth in percentage of matches played (.976) and tied for tenth in games played (437).

NOTRE DAME IN SEASON OPENERS: With a three game sweep of Michigan last season, Notre Dame has won its lidlifter for 15 consecutive season, every year since head coach Debbie Brown arrived on campus. The last time the Irish started the season 0-1 was in 1990, when they lost in four games to Montana in the Washington State Invitational.

NEW LEADERS: With the graduation of both captains from last season, the Notre Dame volleyball team has chosen two new leaders for this season. The new captains are senior Danielle Herndon and junior Adrianna Stasiuk.

WHO’S BACK: The Notre Dame volleyball team returns three starter and eight monogram winners from last year’s squad. Among the returnees, besides Herndon and Stasiuk, is all-time single season assist record holder (1,573) junior setter Ashley Tarutis. Also returning is junior outside hitter Ellen Heintzman (HIGHNTZ-min), and sophomores Madison Clark, Mallorie Croal (KROLE), Annie Morkis (MOH-kris) and Justine Stremick (STREM-ick).

NEW FACES: The Notre Dame volleyball team has reloaded with seven highly touted freshman vying for playing time this season. The freshman this year are Tara Enzweiler (ENZ-while-er), Megan Fesl (FEH-sul), Christina Kaelin (KAY-lynn), Kim Kristoff (pronounced CHRIS-toff), Jamel Nicholas (juh-MEL), Colleen Nolan and Serinity Phillips (suh-REN-ih-tee).

IRISH ARE THE BIG EAST PRESEASON FAVORITE: For the 11th time in 12 seasons as a member of the BIG EAST, Notre Dame volleyball program was chosen as the preseason favorite in the BIG EAST Conference. The only season Notre Dame was not chosen as the favorite since entering the league was last season’s second place prediction.

HONORS AND SELECTIONS: Junior outside hitter Adrianna Stasiuk and junior setter Ashley Tarutis were both chosen for the preseason All BIG-EAST squad.

WHERE WE RANK: The Fighting Irish enter the season ranked 21st in the CSTV/AVCA Preseason Poll. This is the highest preseason rank for ND since 2001 when they began the season 20th.

THAT’S A CHALLENGING SCHEDULE: Notre Dame has once again lined up one of the more challenging schedules in the country. Notre Dame will take on nine teams in 10 matches that were in the 2005 NCAA Tournament. The teams and round they were eliminated in goes as follows: Valparaiso (first round), Missouri (final eight), Santa Clara (semifinals), Alabama (first round), Kansas State (second round), Duke (second round), and Hawai’i (round of 16), Louisville (round of 16) and Ohio (round of 16).

IT JUST GOT TOUGHER: A closer look at the Notre Dame volleyball schedule reveals that out of 51 teams that are in the AVCA Preseason top-25 or received votes to be in the AVCA Preseason top-25, the Fighting Irish are schedule to play 10 matches against those nine teams. The ranked ND opponents in order of prediction are Santa Clara (#6), Hawai’i (#7), Louisville (#12), Missouri (#13), Ohio (#16), Kansas State (#25), Duke (received votes), Northern Iowa (received votes), Cincinnati (received votes).

IN LIVING ROOMS EVERYWHERE: For the fourth time in as many season the Notre Dame volleyball team will have a game shown on College Sports Television. The Fighting Irish will have its match against #13 Missouri on Sept. 2 at the Shamrock Invitational at 7 p.m. taped delayed and shown by CSTV on Sept. 3 at 2 p.m. ND is one of only eight schools that has been part of the CSTV volleyball package every season since its inception. The others are (shown with `06 preseason national rankings) #1 Nebraska, #4 Stanford, #6 Santa Clara, #8 Texas, #19 Pepperdine, #24 Utah and Colorado State. The BIG EAST Champion game to be held on Nov. 19 at 4:00 p.m., which Notre Dame has played in for 11 consecutive seasons, will also be shown on CSTV this season.

HOME FOOTBALL WEEKENDS: For the sixth time in seven years, the Notre Dame volleyball team is scheduled to play matches this season that will precede football pep rallies. The start of the home BIG EAST play against Marquette on Oct. 6 at 4 p.m. will be the first of the two pre-pep rally matches for Notre Dame. Also on the schedule this season, the Connecticut match on Oct. 20 at 4 p.m. will take place before the pep rally for the UCLA game. Football-weekend guests will have the two other opportunities to see the Irish, all against BIG EAST competition. The day after the Stanford football game (Sunday, Oct. 8) Notre Dame will host Syracuse at 1 p.m., while Sunday, Oct. 22 will see the Fighting Irish hosting St. John’s at 2 p.m.

ALL BY HERSELF: Senior Danielle Herndon is the lone senior on the 15-person team this season, which is the first time since 1983 (Terese Henken) that the Irish have only had one senior on the team.

AN EXCEPTIONAL CLASS: The seven student-athletes who comprise the freshman class for the University of Notre Dame women’s volleyball team this season – MB Tara Enzweiler, OH/OPP Megan Fesl, OH Christina Kaelin, MB Kim Kristoff, S Jamel Nicholas, DS/L Colleen Nolan, and OH/OPP Serinity Phillips – earned high praise before even stepping on campus, as two publications ranked the group among the five best in the country. Volleyball magazine had Notre Dame third on its list of top recruiting classes appearing in the August issue, while PrepVolleyball.com placed the Irish fifth on a similar list. These cap off the accolades received by the group, which features four PrepVolleyball.com high school All-Americans, three Volleyball magazine Fab 50 selections, and two Gatorade State Players of the Year for volleyball.

Fesl, Kaelin, and Kristoff were on Volleyball’s Girls Fab 50 list of the top high school seniors in the nation, announced in April. It is the first time since 1997 (Denise Boylan, Christi Girton, and Jo Jameyson) – and just the third time ever – that Notre Dame has had three Fab 50 picks in the same class. The other instance was the 1994 group of Angie Harris, Jaimie Lee, and Carey May. The Irish are one of only five schools that have three or more on the Fab 50 list, joining Penn State (four), Pepperdine (three), Texas A&M (three), and Wisconsin (three). Notre Dame has now had 23 players earn Fab 50 designation since 1990, including at least one in 11 of the last 13 years.

AN INTELLIGENT BUNCH: The Notre Dame volleyball team posted one of its highest grade-point average on record for the academic year in 2005-2006 and were recognized as a recipient of the Game/Plan American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award. The Irish, who had a spring team GPA of 3.380, were one of just 54 Division I Programs on the list and one of a group of 12 that also made the 2005 NCAA Tournament. The AVCA Team Academic Award honors college and high-school teams that display excellence in the classroom by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team GPA on a 4.0 scale. The Irish were previously honored with the award in 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2004-05.

SHE’S THE BOSS: Irish head coach Debbie Brown is beginning her 16th season as the leader of the Notre Dame volleyball program. She has led the Irish to a 374-122 mark (.754), while holding an overall record of 491-205 (.705). Brown’s Notre Dame teams have earned 14 consecutive NCAA tournament bids, advancing to the quarterfinals in 1993 and the round of 16 in `94, `95, and `97. Her squads have won 20 or more matches 13 times. A 10-time conference coach of the year and the only five-time BIG EAST coach of the year (4 in the Midwestern Collegiate and one in the Pac-10), she has coached 12 Irish players to All-American honors. The Irish have also claimed 14 regular season conference titles (4 Midwestern Collegiate, 10 BIG EAST) and 13 league tournament titles (4 MCC, 9 BIG EAST) under her watch. A co-captain of the 1980 U.S Olympic volleyball team after winning a pair of national championships and earning All-American 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.

A NEW MAN IN PLACE: The Fighting Irish in 2006 will have a new assistant coach in place as Greg Smith, formerly the head man at Virginia Tech, has joined the Notre Dame volleyball family this season. Smith compiled a record of 81-94 (463), including 37-38 (.493) in his five years in command of the Hokies. Smith replaces Robin Davis who took the head position at Boise State. Also joining the volleyball coaching staff, as volunteer assistant is Kevin Lane. Lane is an experienced coach on several levels having most recently spent time at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne, aiding the Mastodons to a runner-up finish at the National Independent University Tournament.

AN IMPRESSIVE STREAK: Notre Dame’s current 14 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances is behind only seven other schools nationally (Stanford (25), Penn State (25), UC Santa Barbara (25), Nebraska (24), Long Beach State (19), USC (15) and Florida (15)) for consecutive appearances in the Big Dance.

HOME SWEET HOME: Notre Dame’s Joyce Center has become one of the most difficult places in the nation for road teams to win at, especially since the arrival of head coach Debbie Brown in 1991. Over the last 15 seasons, Notre Dame has posted a 180-29 record (.861) home record. The Irish have put together some impressive winning streaks on the home court, winning 14 or more matches in a row at home on five different occasions, highlighted by a streak of 27 (1993-95), and 36 (2000-02) straight home victories. Notre Dame also won 74 in a row in regular season action against conference opposition from 1991-2004. On 15 different occasions Notre Dame has topped a ranked team at the Joyce Center, including five upsets of teams ranked in the top-10. During the Brown era Notre Dame holds a home record of 171-10 (.945) against unranked teams at home.

CLASS OF THE CONFERENCE: Notre Dame has experienced unprecedented success in the 11 years since joining the league in 1995. The Irish have compiled a 120-7 (.945) regular season mark, highlighted by 10 titles and winning streaks of 45 and 35 consecutive matches. Notre Dame is 67-1 (.985) in BIG EAST regular-season contests in the Joyce Center. The Irish have won nine BIG EAST tournament championships, posting a mark of 22-2 (.917) in the event and reaching the final every season. The Fighting Irish have also dominated the conference awards; winning player-of the-year honors six times and coach-of-the-year five times. On nine occasions an Irish player has been named to the league tournament’s most outstanding player. Also, Notre Dame players have taken home 40 all-conference accolades, including 24 first team honors.

KEEPING UP WITH NOTRE DAME 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 results information for all Irish varsity sports and serves a supplement to the match recaps and weekly releases provided on the official athletic website at www.und.com. In addition, media members and fans can be added to the sports information e-mail release list by contact sports information assistant Joe Prisco, at prisco.3@nd.edu. All requests for story ideas, interview access, match credentials and further information on Irish volleyball should also be directed to Prisco. Credential and interview requests should be made at least 24 hours in advance.

UP NEXT: The Fighting Irish have an exciting weekend of volleyball action in the Shamrock Invitational starting on Friday, Sept. 1 against Valparaiso at the Joyce Center at 7 p.m. Notre Dame has a pair of games on the second day of the tournament starting against Idaho at 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 2. The nightcap against #13 Missouri will be a taped delayed CSTV game that begins at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday evening and will be shown at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 3 on CSTV. Notre Dame wraps up its busy weekend of non-conference action against #6 Santa Clara at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 3. The Santa Clara contest will be the last home match for the Irish for nearly a month, as the volleyball program begins a run of nine-consecutive road matches on Sept. 8.