Dec. 26, 2005
The University of Notre Dame women’s volleyball team concluded a season of superlatives by matching one more. The Irish – who were 30-4 and reached the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1997 – were listed 12th in the final edition of the CSTV/AVCA Division I Coaches’ Top 25, as well as 11th in the Molten/Volleyball Magazine Women’s College Top 20, when those polls were released recently. Both listings match the best in Notre Dame history, first done by the 1994 squad. ND ended up 13th in the RichKern.com poll.
The Irish dropped three spots in both listings after being ranked ninth and eighth, respectively, in the penultimate versions, released prior to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, on Dec. 5. Notre Dame dropped a five-game decision to #12/10 Wisconsin in the College Station Regional.
Notre Dame was listed in the final AVCA top 25 for the ninth time (all since 1992), ending among the top 15 for the third time (also 12th in 1994 and 14th in ’95). The AVCA’s final poll was released before the NCAA tournament prior to the ’95 campaign. The ’94 squad entered the NCAAs with a 32-3 mark, earned a first-round bye and then beat Pittsburgh before falling to #9 Penn State in the round of 16.
The 2005 campaign saw the Irish produce several impressive feats in the AVCA poll. On Oct. 31 of this season, Notre Dame moved up to a program-best fifth in the AVCA poll, making it the first school ever to crack the top five in the AVCA poll after beginning the year unranked. Twice before (Minnesota in 2002, Ohio State in `04) teams had peaked at sixth in the listing after being unranked in the regular season.
After knocking off #6 Florida and #8 USC en route to being the only 3-0 team in the UTSA Dome Rally (Sept. 9-11), Notre Dame jumped 11 spots to #8 in the AVCA poll on Sept. 12. The 11-place rise matched the largest single-week ascension ever for any team in the poll (BYU also moved from 19th before the NCAA tournament to eighth in the final poll in 1996). The two-poll jump of more than 17 spots (from unranked to eighth) by ND stands as the largest in the 24-year history of the AVCA poll. The previous record was the 1995 Oral Roberts team that was unranked heading into the NCAAs, then moved up to 19th after the first two rounds and 10th in the final poll. The largest two-poll jump in ND history prior to this came in 2003, when the Irish were unranked in the preseason, moved to 21st, and then to 15th. The previous best one-week movement came in 1997, when the Irish went from unranked heading into the NCAAs to 18th in the final poll.
Notre Dame was ranked in the top 10 in 11 of 15 polls after having done that on just eight total occasions prior to 2005. Since being ranked for the first time in the preseason of 1992, the Irish have been listed in the AVCA top 25 at some point in every season except for one (1999). In all, Notre Dame has been ranked in 135 of the 214 polls since then (63%). Only 19 schools have been ranked on more occasions than the Irish since the AVCA rankings debuted in 1982, and just 16 have been in more polls since the commencement of the 1992 campaign.
Six of Notre Dam’s opponents – #3 Florida (W, 3-0), #6 Tennessee (L, 2-3), #10 Wisconsin (L, 2-3), #11 Louisville (W, 3-1 & W, 3-2), #16 Texas (W, 3-2), and #19 Southern California (W, 3-1) – finished the season among the AVCA’s top 20, while Northwestern (W, 3-0) was the fourth squad outside the top 25 (listed 29th). The Irish and Cardinals have made this season the first time ever that two BIG EAST Conference teams were listed simultaneously in the AVCA poll. The Irish are 10th in the RichKern.com poll and fell two spots to eighth in the the Rich Kern Percentage Index (RKPI), which approximates the NCAA’s RPI.