Aug. 4, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the second year in a row, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team earned an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award, it was announced last week. 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 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. Notre Dame was one of 35 Division I programs to be so recognized this season, while a record 205 total teams (including 103 prep squads) earned the award in ’02-03.
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. Seven other recipients fell in the opening round of the NCAAs.
Virginia Tech and Notre Dame were the lone BIG EAST Conference members to earn the award, while the Hokies and Saint Louis were the only two teams on the ’02 Irish regular-season slate to be so honored.
Leading the way academically for the Irish were a trio of veterans. Senior-to-be 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.
The Irish, which begin their season Aug. 29 vs. Arizona in the Four Points Sheraton Classic in Malibu, Calif. before opening at home Sept. 9 against Valparaiso, return all six starters and 12 monogram winners from last year’s team that was 24-8 (11-2) and earned the 16th seed in the NCAA Championship before falling in the second round.