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Sept. 5, 2000

WHO: University of Notre Dame, UCLA, Michigan State University and the University of Nebraska women’s volleyball teams.
WHAT: The 2000 adidas Invitational Volleyball Tournament.
WHERE: University of Notre Dame’s Joyce Center.
WHEN: Michigan State vs. UCLA, Friday, 1:30 p.m.
Notre Dame vs. Nebraska, Friday, 4:00 p.m.
Michigan State vs. Nebraska, Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
Notre Dame vs. UCLA, Saturday, 7:00 p.m.
UCLA vs. Nebraska, Sunday, 12:30 p.m.
Notre Dame vs. Michigan State, Sunday, 3:00 p.m.

The Second of Three: The University of Notre Dame volleyball team (3-0) continues the 2000 season and the drive for its ninth-straight NCAA tournament appearance as it plays host to the adidas Invitational this weekend. The adidas Invitational is the second of three home volleyball tournaments the Irish will play host to in the month of September. Notre Dame swept three games in the Shamrock Invitational Sept. 1-3, with victories over Fairfield (3-0), #15 BYU (3-2) and Clemson (3-0). The Golden Dome Invitational is scheduled for Sept. 22-23 with Colorado State, Wyoming, Loyola Marymount and the Irish making up the tournament field.

Shamrock Invitational Recap: Notre Dame started the season on a high note, capturing the Shamrock Invitational title with three impressive victories. On Friday, Sept. 1, the Irish swept three games (15-7, 15-7, 15-10) from the Fairfield Stags. Senior OH and co-captain Christi Girton (Muncie, Ind.) had 14 kills, eight digs and three blocks in the match and junior OPP Kristy Kreher (Birmingham, Mich.) added 11 kills and nine digs. Senior Denise Boylan (Lisle, Ill.) set the team to a .331 hitting percentage in the match with 37 assists. She also added ten digs, three blocks and two aces. Saturday, Sept. 2, the Irish met 15th-ranked BYU. After a slow start (Notre Dame dropped the first two games) the Irish offense caught fire and rallied for a five-game victory (5-15, 10-15, 15-10, 15-10, 15-10). Kreher had a spectacular game with 23 kills, 17 digs, 6 assists and three blocks. Boylan and Girton stepped up to lead the Irish in the deciding fifth game as Girton had six kills and Boylan set the team to a .421 hitting percentage. Girton totalled 18 kills, eight digs and three blocks in the match while Boylan tallied 50 assists, 10 digs and three blocks. Notre Dame finished off its sweep of the tournament on Sunday with a 3-0 (15-7, 15-8, 15-6) match victory over Clemson. Kreher, Girton and junior Marcie Bomhack (Waukesha, Wis.) tallied double-digit kill matches and Boylan notched 49 assists, seven digs, four blocks and two aces. Boylan was named the tournament MVP while Girton and Kreher were named to the Shamrock all-tournament team. Tournament statistics for the three all-tournament team members: Boylan: 12.36 apg, 27 digs, five aces, 10 blocks Girton: 47 kills, .309 hitting %, 21 digs Kreher: 50 kills, .375 hitting %, 34 digs Also named to the all-tournament team were Nina Puikkonen (BYU), Melissa Layton (BYU), Sunny Tonga (BYU) and Joanne Saunders (Fairfield).

Twenty Years in the Making: The Notre Dame volleyball team is celebrating its first 20 years of varsity status this season. One of the university’s first varsity sports for women founded in 1980, the volleyball program is one of the most successful in school history. Of the 587 matches the Irish have played, they have been victorious in 411 of them for an impressive .700 winning percentage.

Boylan Earns Player of the Week Honors: Senior setter Denise Boylan was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week on Monday, Sept. 4, for her performance during the Shamrock Invitational. She led the team to three victories, including a come-from-behind upset over #15 BYU. Boylan’s statistics over the weekend: 136 assists (12.36 apg), 27 digs, 10 blocks, 10 kills and five aces.

Preseason Honors: Notre Dame senior setter Denise Boylan was chosen as the BIG EAST preseason player of the year on Aug. 8. Boylan earned first-team all-BIG EAST honors in 1999 after leading the Irish with 1,132 assists and 35 aces. Her career marks of 3,291 assists and 11.84 assist average are both second in school history. Boylan was joined on the preseason all-BIG EAST team by fellow senior Christi Girton (Muncie, Ind.). Girton had previously earned second team all-BIG EAST accolades after the 1998 and 1999 seasons. She led the team in kills (333) and digs (201) last season and ranks 10th on the career hitting percentage list with a .254 mark.

1999 Review: Notre Dame earned its eighth consecutive NCAA tournament bid after going 20-9 overall and 11-0 in conference play to capture the BIG EAST regular season title. It was Notre Dame’s fourth regular season title since they began league play in 1995. Senior middle blocker Mary Leffers earned the 1999 BIG EAST player-of-the-year ward, becoming the third Notre Dame player to be so honored (Jaimie Lee ’96,’97 and Jen Birkner ’95). Notre Dame returns five starters in 2000 from the ’99 team, including all-BIG EAST first-team selection Denise Boylan and second- team selections Christi Girton and junior Kristy Kreher. Top Hitters Return: Even after the loss of Mary Leffers, the top career percentage hitter in school history, Notre Dame boasts two of its top all-time ball strikers on its 2000 roster. Kristy Kreher put together one of the best hitting percentage seasons ever in 1999, recording 272 kills on 592 attempts with only 85 errors (.316 percentage). Kreher has moved up the career charts as well, ranking second in hitting percentage with a .294 mark entering the 2000 season. Senior Christi Girton also had an impressive 1999 season with 333 kills and just 111 errors for a .302 mark, which is tied for the 10th-best season mark in Irish history.

Head Coach Debbie Brown: Now entering her 10th season as head coach, Debbie Brown has led the Notre Dame volleyball team to victory in nearly 75 percent of its matches, going 231-80 (.742) since she joined the program in 1991. That success came after six years as head coach at Arizona State (1983-88), giving her a 348-163 record over 15 seasons. Brown has coached teams that have qualified for the NCAA tournament 13 times and have won nine conference championships. The Irish have won four of five regular-season conference titles since they began BIG EAST play in 1995 and also have won four of five BIG EAST tournament titles. An NCAA berth at the end of the 2000 season would give Brown her 14th consecutive post-season coaching opportunity.

adidas Invitational History: The adidas Invitational will take center stage the weekend of Sept. 8-10, as #3 UCLA, #4 Nebraska, #16 Michigan State and #22 Notre Dame meet for a round-robin, three-day tournament. UCLA will be visiting the Joyce Center for the first time, while Michigan State and Nebraska have been frequent opponents of the Irish. Michigan State attended the Shamrock Invitational in 1994 and the Irish swept the Spartans in three games. MSU evened the score at the Michigan State tournament in 1998 with a three-game victory.

Home Court Advantage To Be Tested: The Irish continued their traditional success at home in 1999 with a 10-2 Joyce Center record. Notre Dame is 165-61 all-time in the Joyce Center and the Debbie Brown era (1991-current) is even better. Since 1991, Notre Dame has won 111 of 127 home matches for a stellar .874 winning percentage. These numbers will be challenged in 2000 as the Irish will welcome volleyball powers #3 UCLA, #4 Nebraska, #7 Colorado State, #16 Michigan State, #17 BYU and #21 Loyola Marymount to name a few of the 17 home matches on the schedule. Notre Dame will also play host to the 2000 BIG EAST volleyball championship Nov. 18-19.

A Highly-Rated Group of Freshmen: The class of 2004 that features Kim Fletcher (St. Louis, Mo.), Jessica Kinder (Fresno, Calif.), Kristen Kinder (Fresno, Calif.), Katie Neff (St. Louis, Mo.) and Christa Moen (San Antonio, Texas) was ranked the ninth-best recruiting class in the nation by Volleyball Magazine. Fletcher and Kristen Kinder were members of Volleyball Magazine’s “Fab 50” list of the top senior high school volleyball players in the country.

Freshmen Contribute Early in the Season: The 2000 freshmen class has made some significant contributions in the first three matches of the year. DS Christa Moen has played in six games, recording ten digs. OH Jessica Kinder came off the bench in the BYU rally to score a momentum-swinging ace and has three aces, three kills and eight digs so far this season. Jessica’s sister Kristen gave Irish starting setter Denise Boylan a breather in the Clemson match and tallied six assists. MB Kim Fletcher has played in four games, recording six kills, four digs and five blocks. MB Katie Neff has played in one game, recording a kill.

First Time Opponents: Notre Dame will play a number of matches in 2000 against teams it has never met before. Number three UCLA is the highest profile new opponent for the Irish. UCLA makes the trip east to the Joyce Center to play in the adidas Invitational Sept. 8-10. Notre Dame also will face the Florida A&M Rattlerettes and Samford Bulldogs for the first time when the Irish travel to Tallahassee, Fla., for the Lady Seminole Classic Sept. 15-16.

A Record Number of Home Matches?: The Irish have 17 home matches scheduled in 2000. If Notre Dame qualifies for the BIG EAST tournament (the top four teams in the conference will make up the tournament field) it will have an opportunity to play the most home matches in the program’s history. Notre Dame played 18 home matches in 1992 and 1996.

Freshmen Connections: Four of the five Notre Dame freshmen enjoy two different bonds. Jessica and Kristen Kinder will be the first pair of twins to take the court for the Irish. Classmates Katie Neff and Kim Fletcher are both from the St. Louis, Mo., area and played on the same club team, the St. Louis Elite. Neff and Fletcher will get a chance to play hometown St. Louis University when the Billikens visit the Joyce Center Nov. 7. The Kinders, who call Fresno, Calif., home, will get to return to the west coast when the Irish travel to USC Nov. 24.

Scouting the Huskers: The Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Irish will meet for the seventh time, with Nebraska holding a 4-2 advantage in the series. The last meeting occurred in 1995, when the Huskers won 3-0. The series has provided some dramatic moments at the Joyce Center as Notre Dame upset highly-ranked Nebraska twice in 1994 to kick-start an Irish run in the ’94 NCAA tournament to the Mideast Regional final. Nebraska (4-0) is coming off a four-game home stand after hosting the US Bank Tournament. The Huskers beat 13th ranked Colorado State for the championship of the tournament. The Huskers also disposed Oral Roberts in three games 15-0, 15-1, 15-0, setting a school record for they least points given up in a match. The Huskers are led by Laura Pilakowski, who was named Big 12 athlete of the week and MVP of the US Bank Tournament.

“The Battle Before the War”: The Notre Dame versus Nebraska volleyball match on Friday, Sept. 8, at 4:00 p.m., will give both team’s football fans a warm-up for the football pep rally, which will be held in Notre Dame Stadium, and the game on Saturday. The #1 Nebraska Cornhuskers are meeting #23 Notre Dame for the first time since 1972. Admission to the volleyball game to witness the “The Battle Before the War” is free.

Scouting the Bruins: UCLA and Notre Dame are meeting for the first time. UCLA, the preseason number one team, has lost two early-season matches to highly-ranked teams. The Bruins began the season by beating second-ranked Penn State to open the State Farm Classic in Gainesville, Fla., on Aug. 25. Colorado State then upset UCLA in five games the next day. The Bruins bounced back by beating Iowa and Texas A&M in the Hawaiian Airlines Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii before falling to fifth-ranked Hawai’i in the final game of the tournament.

Scouting the Spartans: Michigan State and Notre Dame are meeting for the eighth time. The last meeting occurred in 1998, a 3-0 win for the Spartans. Michigan State is coming off a sweep of the L&L/MSU Volleyball Classic. MSU downed Rutgers, Northeastern and Eastern Washington during the tournament. The Spartans are led by Jessica Sanborn, Amy Sibbernsen and Christie Landry, all of which earned all-tournament honors in the L&L/MSU Volleyball Classic.

They Have a History: When the Michigan State Spartans enter the Joyce Center on Sept. 10, a pupil will once again meet her teacher in the process. MSU head coach Chuck Erbe was at the helm of the USC Trojans when Irish head coach Debbie Brown served as USC team captain from 1976-77. Erbe guided Brown and her teammates to a 38-0 run in 1977 that stood as the only undefeated Division I women’s volleyball season until Long Beach State went 42-0 in 1998. Since Brown took over at Notre Dame in 1991 and Erbe moved to Michigan State in 1993, the Irish and Spartans have met three times. Brown helped the Irish take the first meeting in 1994, but Erbe and his team won a second meeting in `94 and the last meeting in 1998. California Dreaming: When the Irish travel to Los Angeles, Calif., for their final regular season match up versus USC, a number of players will get a chance to play in their home state. The Golden State is home to four players on the 2000 roster: Senior Adrienne Shimmel (Mission Viejo), sophomore Janie Alderete (Santa Clara) and freshmen Jessica and Kristen Kinder (Fresno).

Texas Representation: Texas also boasts four players on the 2000 Irish roster. Seniors Jo Jameyson (Alvin) and Michelle Graham (Austin), junior Malinda Goralski (Missouri City) and freshman Christa Moen (San Antonio) will compete with California for state bragging rights in the Irish locker room. Assistant coach Lindsay Rosenthal (Austin) also hails from the Lone Star State.

Academics Job One: In addition to ranking as one of the top programs in the nation, the Notre Dame volleyball team also has excelled in the classroom: * Six players made the Dean’s List in 1999-2000 including Janie Alderete, Denise Boylan, Keara Coughlin, Christi Girton, Michelle Graham and Jo Jameyson. Graham received the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Knute Rockne Scholar-Athlete award for the volleyball program. * Each member of Notre Dame’s 2000 team roster was a member of the National Honor Society in high school. * Notre Dame has had two student-athletes receive GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors, including Jaimie Lee (second team) in 1997 and former assistant coach Jessica Fiebelkorn (second team) in 1992.