Sept. 10, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Fighting Irish volleyball swings back into action Friday by hosting the Notre Dame / adidas Invitational at the Joyce Center Fieldhouse. The three-day event, which features Wisconsin and New Mexico State, begins Friday (Sept. 11) and runs through Sunday (Sept. 13).
“The tournament field for this invitational is really strong, with both Wisconsin and New Mexico State being perennial NCAA Tournament teams,” Irish head coach Debbie Brown said. “This is exactly the type of competition we’re looking for. Both will present a challenge, and we’re excited to get back on the floor and competing again.”
Notre Dame / adidas Invitational
Joyce Center â€¢ Notre Dame, Ind.
Friday – Sunday, Sept. 11-13
Live stats: und.com
Live video: und.com (Wisconsin match only)
IRISH ALERTS (text messaging): Sign up on volleyball page at und.com
Tickets: 574.631.7356 / und.com / Joyce Center (gate 3) on game day
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
3-3 overall / 0-0 BIG EAST
[und.com â€¢ bigeast.org]
3-3 overall / 0-0 Big Ten
[uwbadgers.com â€¢ bigten.org]
New Mexico State Aggies
4-2 overall / 0-0 Western Athletic
[nmstatesports.com â€¢ wacsports.com]
Sept. 11 – 7:00 – Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin
Sept. 12 – 5:00 – Wisconsin vs. New Mexico State
Sept. 13 – 2:00 – Notre Dame vs. New Mexico State
*home team listed first
*all times local to site (ET)
The Field …
– Series: Wisconsin leads, 7-1
– First meeting: 9.22.84 – at Wisconsin – Wisconsin, 3-1
– Last meeting: 12.1.06 – NCAA Tournament (first round) – Wisconsin, 3-0
– Notre Dame has just one win over the Badgers, a 3-1 home victory in 1987 … since then, Wisconsin has taken the last six meetings … the two programs have met four times in the NCAA Tournament, most recently in 2006 … the 10th-ranked Badgers won the first set of that match, 36-34, en route to the sweep … in fact, Wisconsin has ended Notre Dame’s season in each of the last three Irish appearances in the NCAA Tournament (2004, 2005, 2006) … both teams have been ranked in three of the all-time matchups (1997, 1998, 2005) … Wisconsin’s roster includes eight newcomers who take part in a newly installed 5-1 offense … senior Brittney Dolgner averaged 4.30 kills/set and 3.70 digs/set during last week’s Oregon State Challenge, including a pair of double-doubles and a 22-kill performance against Oregon State … on the season, Dolgner leads the Badgers with 3.56 kills/set.
New Mexico State
– First meeting
– Sophomore Kelsey Brennan set a new career-high in kills as New Mexico State defeated UTEP, 3-2, this past Tuesday … Brennan slammed down 18 kills while adding 10 blocks for her first career double-double … it was the 10th consecutive victory over the Miners for New Mexico State … the Aggies brought home their first WAC regular-season title in 2008 after posting a 15-1 mark in league play, which included a win at No. 6 Hawaii … New Mexico State returns seven letterwinners and sports 10 newcomers on the roster, including junior college All-American transfer Kayleigh Giddens.
Next week: Notre Dame heads south to Tallahassee, Fla., for Florida State’s Seminole Tri-Tournament with the host Seminoles and Miami (Sept. 19-20).
Bump, Set, Spike …
â€¢ Notre Dame went 1-2 at the Xavier Invitational last weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio … a 3-1 win over the host Musketeers (Sept. 4) came before losing sweeps at the hands of Tennessee (Sept. 5) and No. 7 Michigan (Sept. 6) … the match against Michigan marked the second in as many weeks against a top-10 team for the Irish … Notre Dame defeated No. 5 Stanford during the season’s opening weekend, 3-0, on Sept. 29.
â€¢ The Irish have only one win against this week’s Notre Dame / adidas Invitational field … it will be the first meeting between Notre Dame and New Mexico while Wisconsin owns a 7-1 record over the host Irish.
â€¢ Irish head coach Debbie Brown has shelved over 400 wins with Notre Dame and won five BIG EAST Conference Coach of the Year awards since joining the league in 1995 … the 2009 season is her 19th at the helm of the Fighting Irish program … with a career record of 542-249 (.685) in her 25th season as a head coach, Brown has a 427-166 (.720) mark at Notre Dame.
Upward Bound …
Notre Dame is receiving votes (18) in the AVCA Top 25 Poll for the second consecutive week … RichKern.com deemed Notre Dame the 37th-best team in the nation according to its Sept. 7 poll … Notre Dame is the highest ranked BIG EAST Conference team in each poll.
Queen City Queens …
Senior outside hitter Serinity Phillips and senior setter Jamel Nicholas both earned all-tournament nods at the Xavier Invitational (Sept. 4-6) … Phillips poured in a season-high 20 kills against Xavier (Sept. 4) on a .459 average and had 11 digs against Tennessee (Sept. 5) … she averaged 3.40 kills/set while Nicholas punched in 11.10 assists/set … for her efforts, Phillips was named to the BIG EAST Conference’s Weekly Honor Roll.
Fresh Start …
Freshman middle blocker Hilary Eppink made the first start of her career against No. 7 Michigan (Sept. 6) … she came through with eight kills on a .438 swinging average and two blocks – one of the solo variety.
Scoops By Silva …
Second-year libero Frenchy Silva had a career-high 23 digs against Xavier (Sept. 4) … her previous career-best (21) came on Aug. 31, 2008, against Valparaiso … it was the 12th double-digit dig performance of her young career.
Point Irish, Point Wolverines …
Notre Dame and Michigan combined for 60 points in the second set of a Sept. 6 matchup at the Xavier Invitational, setting the Irish record for scores in the 25-point set era … the set had 13 tied scores and three lead changes … Notre Dame stared at set point after a Lexi Zimmerman attack error (24-23) and Michigan would eventually get the win after converting its sixth set point … previously, Notre Dame and Valparaiso combined for 58 points in the third set of an Aug. 31, 2008, meeting … Valparaiso won the set, 30-28, while escaping with the match victory.
The Giver …
Senior Jamel Nicholas is the lone setter on the Irish roster and cracked the program’s all-time assists list last year by bringing her total to 1,958 … she has since eclipsed the 2,000-assist mark after notching 100 in nine sets played during the season-opening Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 28-30) … Nicholas, who is averaging 11.11 assists/set in 2009, led the team in assists in each of last season’s 31 matches and has a career average of 6.38 assists/set (2,169 total assists).
Conquering the Cardinal …
For just the second time in program history – and the first since 1993 – Notre Dame earned a win over a top-five opponent, as the Irish dealt No. 5 Stanford a 3-0 loss on Aug. 29 … Notre Dame’s last win over a ranked opponent came at home against Louisville on Nov. 11, 2007, while the lone win versus a top-five opponent came on Sept. 25, 1993, when the 14th-ranked Irish defeated No. 3 Nebraska at the Joyce Center … the Irish and Cardinal last met in 2003 with Stanford pulling out a 3-0 win … the 2008 NCAA Championship runner-up had never dropped a match to Notre Dame in six tries until this season … the Irish have earned 32 wins against ranked teams and 13 victories over top-10 teams … furthermore, the 1,843 fans in attendance to watch Notre Dame knock off Stanford made up the largest crowd to view a game in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse and the 15th-largest crowd overall in Irish history.
BIG EAST Deals Honor To Dealy …
Sophomore Kristen Dealy was named to the BIG EAST Honor Roll (Aug. 31) one day after being tabbed to Shamrock Invitational all-tournament team … the outside hitter narrowly missed out on a pair of double-doubles during Irish sweeps over Denver (Aug. 28) and No. 5 Stanford (Aug. 29) … Dealy had nine kills against both the Pioneers and Cardinal before peppering LSU with 15 on a .400 average … she also cleanly fielded 40 consecutive serves through three matches before committing an error … Dealy led Notre Dame with 3.67 kills/set and 2.78 digs/set over the three matches.
All-Tournament Nods …
Senior Serinity Phillips joined sophomore Kristen Dealy on the Shamrock Invitational all-tournament team … Dealy led the Irish against the Tigers with 15 kills while narrowly missing out on double-doubles in Notre Dame’s first two matches … Phillips steadied the Irish attack with 3.11 kills/set and 2.89 digs/set in the three matches … LSU’s Michele Williams, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, finished the three-match event with 37 kills (2.85/set) and 19 blocks (1.46/set) … Brittnee Cooper (LSU), Cassidy Lichtman (Stanford), Gabi Ailes (Stanford) and Emmy Davidsmeyer (Denver) rounded out the all-tournament team.
Smacks By Sciacca …
Early into her third season with the Irish, junior middle blocker Kellie Sciacca already sits second on Notre Dame’s career list for hitting percentage … Sciacca’s mark of .328 still significantly trails Malinda Goralski’s (’01) best of .361 … Sciacca has totaled 607 kills on 1,252 attacks with 196 errors … on the program’s single-season chart, Sciacca’s averages of .343 (2007) and .332 (2008) rank eighth and tenth, respectively.
Preseason Honors …
Senior outside hitter Christina Kaelin and junior middle blocker Kellie Sciacca both earned all-BIG EAST preseason nods, as voted upon by the league’s coaches … the duo brought home second team all-BIG EAST honors at the conclusion of last year’s regular season … Kaelin went on to rack up all-region and Honorable Mention All-America honors from the AVCA in 2009 … Notre Dame was picked alongside Cincinnati to finish second in the BIG EAST standings.
All In the Family …
Senior Tara Enzweiler will be joined on campus this year by a few familiar faces … two of her brothers, Thomas and Matthew, are also undergraduates at the University … moreover, each of the three were valedictorians at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, N.C.
Bringing ‘Em Back …
The Irish added two new – but recognizable – members to their coaching staff during the offseason in assistant coach Robin Davis and volunteer assistant coach Adrianna Stasiuk …Davis was named assistant volleyball coach in June 2009 … Davis, who spent the last three seasons as the head coach at Boise State, rejoined the Irish after spending five seasons with the Notre Dame program from 2001-2005 … with the arrival of Davis in 2006, Boise State got an immediate boost to its program … in his first season with the program, Davis posted the largest win increase for a first-year coach in Bronco history in leading the squad to 13 wins, five more than the 2005 edition of the Broncos … as an assistant coach with Notre Dame for four seasons and an associate head coach for one season, Davis helped lead the Fighting Irish to five consecutive BIG EAST Conference regular-season championships and appearances at the NCAA Tournament, reaching the round of 16 in 2005 … Notre Dame also finished that year with its highest-ever final national ranking – No. 12 in the AVCA poll and No. 11 in the Volleyball Magazine poll … Stasiuk was a four-time monogram winner with the Irish volleyball team from 2004-2007 … a three-time all-BIG EAST honoree, Stasiuk also copped All-American honors as a sophomore and was twice named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District first team … she also became only the seventh Irish player ever to register 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career.
Freshmen Orientation …
Three highly touted freshmen will see action for the Irish this season … outsider hitter Marie Roof (Muskegon, Mich./Mona Shores), middle blocker Hilary Eppink (Westfield, Ind./Westfield) and libero Christina Theofilos (Tampa, Fla./Berkeley) each dominated the prep volleyball circuits in their respective regions of the country before donning the blue and gold … Eppink was part of Volleyball Magazine’s “Fab 50”, Theofolis was a PrepVolleyball.com All-American and Roof was a finalist for Michigan’s Miss Volleyball award … Eppink made her collegiate debut at the Shamrock Invite against Denver, registering one kill on her lone swing along with a solo block.
This Calls for a Party …
Eight members of the Notre Dame volleyball team traveled to Florida in late April and came back to campus with the team title after winning the Collegiate Beach Volleyball Challenge at Fiesta On Siesta Key … the four tandems of Megan Fesl and Angela Puente, Kellie Sciacca and Frenchy Silva, Kristen Dealy and Serinity Phillips, and Christina Kaelin and Beth Wildermuth totaled enough points in both pool and championship play to earn the distinction for the Irish … the Fiesta On Siesta Key tournament featured 48 two-person teams … the initial stage of the tournament had teams broken into 12 pools … at the conclusion of pool play, the top 16 overall teams moved to the Gold bracket, the next 16 to the Silver bracket and the final 16 to the Bronze bracket … all four of Notre Dame’s teams won or came in second in their respective groupings during pool play.
Action Across the Pond …
Notre Dame spent nearly two weeks in Italy this past summer while posting a 6-1 record against the nation’s finest club teams on top of splitting a pair of matches against the Italian Junior National Team … Notre Dame hoisted the championship trophy after sweeping through four matches unscathed at the Margie Himmelberg Memorial Tournament in Modica, Italy. … at the tournament, Christina Kaelin was named “Best Attacker”, Kellie Sciacca was named “Best Blocker” and Serinity Phillips was named the showdown’s MVP.
Looking Back at 2008 …
With a 17-14 overall record (9-5 BIG EAST) Notre Dame secured its 22nd winning season since the program’s inception in 1980 and 18th consecutive (each of the 18 coming under the direction of head coach Debbie Brown) … the completion of the 2008 BIG EAST Championship saw the Irish earn a spot in the final match for the 13th time in 14 seasons since joining the league in 1995 … Notre Dame now sports a 27-5 (.844) all-time record in the league tournament with nine championships and four runner-up finishes … the Irish have faced Louisville in each of the last four conference tournaments while falling to the Cardinals in three of those matches – and twice in the finale … Notre Dame downed Louisville for the 2005 title … four Notre Dame players – Christina Kaelin, Serinity Phillips, Justine Stremick and Kellie Sciacca – were named to the all-BIG EAST second team … the season marked the first time ever that Notre Dame had four players on the second team … Kristen Dealy found a spot on the league’s all-tournament squad.