Junior setter Ashley Tarutis and the Notre Dame volleyball team are ranked #21 in the AVCA to begin the season.

Notre Dame Ranked 21st By The American Volleyball Coaches Association

Aug. 11, 2006

LEXINGTON, KY.– Notre Dame’s volleyball team after a historic 2005 season in which it advanced to the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament and won 30 games for the first time since 1994, enters the 2006 season ranked 21st nationally by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), the organization announced recently.

Notre Dame, which earlier in the week were tabbed as the preseason favorite in the BIG EAST Conference, finished the 2005 season ranked 12th by AVCA. The Fighting Irish are ranked in the top-25 this season despite the loss of five seniors to graduation. Two key players lost to graduation for ND were AVCA All-American Second Team member Lauren Brewster and AVCA honorable mention Lauren Kelbley. This season, head coach Debbie Brown, the 2005 BIG EAST Coach of the Year and the AVCA Northeast Coach of the Year, welcomes back three starters from her team that won the BIG EAST Championship and posted a record of 30-4.

Among the returning starters for the Irish are juniors Adrianna Stasiuk (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South) and Ashley Tarutis (Los Angeles, Calif./Los Alamitos), who were both also named to the 2006 All-BIG EAST Preseason Team.

Stasiuk, a versatile player who played both libero and outside hitter in 2005, is coming off a season where she was an AVCA All-American Honorable Mention, an All-BIG EAST Second Team member and was selected as the 2005 BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player. She was the ninth Notre Dame player to accomplish this feat since ND joined the BIG EAST in 1995. Tarutis has been outstanding in her first two seasons as the starting setter. Last season, she was named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team, while leading the conference and ranking 32nd nationally in assists per game at 12.69. In 2005 she also set the all-time record for assists in a single season at Notre Dame with 1,573. In her two years with the Fighting Irish, the volleyball team is 50-12 with her as a starter.

The other key returnees are senior libero Danielle Herndon (Plant City, Fla./Durant), junior outside hitter Ellen Heintzman (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) and sophomores: setter/libero Madison Clark (Sturgis, Mich./Sturgis), outside hitter Mallorie Croal (Villa, Calif./Mater Dei), defensive specialist Annie Mokris (Orlando, Fla./Bishop Moore) and middle blocker Justine Stremick (Langdon, N.D./Langdon Area). All six are expected to contend for valuable playing time this season.

Notre Dame also welcomes in a talented recruiting class this season – middle blocker Tara Enzweiler (Raleigh, N.C./Cardinal Gibbons), outside hitter Megan Fesl (Arlington Heights, Ill./John Hersey), outside hitter Christina Kaelin (Louisville, Ky./Assumption), middle blocker Kim Kristoff (Carmel, Ind./Brebeuf Jesuit Prep School), setter Jamel Nicholas (Pittsburgh, Pa./Pine-Richland), defensive specialist/libero Colleen Nolan (Vernon Hills, Ill./Stevenson) and outside hitter Serinity Phillips (Valley Center, Calif./Valley Center) – that were ranked third by Volleyball Magazine and fifth by PrepVolleyball.com, the highest rankings ever given to a Fighting Irish recruiting class. Among the group are four PrepVolleyball.com High School All-Americans, three Volleyball magazines Fab 50 selections, and two Gatorade Players of the Year in volleyball.

The BIG EAST conference had two team ranked as the Louisville Cardinals enter the season ranked 12th nationally after going 31-3 last season. Two of the Louisville’s three losses in 2005 came at the hands of Notre Dame, one during the BIG EAST regular season and one during the championship tournament.

The Fighting Irish open the 2006 campaign on Aug. 26 with a home match against visiting Bowling Green starting at 7 p.m. The following weekend should be an early test as ND takes on four talented programs highlighted by matches against #13 Missouri (Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. (ET)) and #6 Santa Clara (Sept. 3 at 2 p.m. (ET)).

Among the teams in the top-25, Notre Dame has road and neutral site matches against five opponents. The Fighting Irish takes on #25 Kansas State on Sept. 9, #7 Hawai’i twice on Oct. 16 and 17, #12 Louisville on Oct. 29, and concludes the regular season with #15 Ohio on Nov. 24. Three additional teams that received votes are also on the schedule this season, Northern Iowa (Sept. 9), Duke (Sept. 16), and Cincinnati (Oct. 28).

Tickets for all 2006 Irish home matches are available via the Notre Dame ticket office at (574) 631-7356 and can be purchased online at und.com.

Notre Dame’s official athletic website will be the ideal place to follow Irish volleyball when fans are unable to be at the Joyce Center. Live scoring through CSTV’s GameTracker for all home contests, as well as live audio broadcasts of selected matches will be available at und.com, in addition to previews and reviews of all matches and other press releases.

AVCA Preseason Ranking   2005 Record1.  Nebraska                    33-22.  Penn State                  31-33.  Washington                  32-14.  Stanford                    26-65.  Florida                         33-36.   Santa Clara                 27-57.  Hawai'i                         27-78.  Texas                           24-59.  Wisconsin                   26-710. UCLA                            20-1111. Tennessee                   25-912.  Louisville                  31-313. Missouri                    25-514. USC                         17-1115.  Ohio                            33-316. Purdue                          25-917. California                  19-1118. Arizona                         25-619. Pepperdine                  19-1220. San Diego                   23-621.  Notre Dame                  30-422. Minnesota                   25-823. Ohio State                  22-924. Utah                            23-925.  Kansas State                    21-11
Italics-Notre Dame 2006 Opponent

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