July 15, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Nine teams earning berths to last year’s NCAA Championship — including five earning top-12 seeds — highlight the 15-match non-conference schedule for the University of Notre Dame volleyball team this fall. The Irish, who begin play on August 29 in Malibu, Calif. before opening the home season on Tuesday, Sept. 9 vs. Valparaiso at 7 p.m. (EST), also will play a dozen matches against BIG EAST Conference foes, attempting to win their eighth regular-season league championship in nine years in the conference. In addition, Notre Dame will play host to the 2003 BIG EAST Championship, Nov. 22-23 in the Joyce Center. The Irish have won the league tournament seven times, including in each of the last three years.
Notre Dame’s home slate will feature 13 regular-season matches, including the Shamrock Invitational, Sept. 12-14, and culminating with a pair of matches against BIG EAST rivals Virginia Tech and Miami on Nov. 7 and 9, respectively. After winning their first 11 conference matches a year ago to extend their BIG EAST winning streak to 43 consecutive contests, the Irish dropped back-to-back road tilts against the Hokies and Hurricanes to end the regular season before bouncing back to win the conference tournament.
The 2003 match vs. Virginia Tech will be at 4 p.m. (EST), immediately before the football pep rally for the Navy game. The showdown with Miami, slated for a 6 p.m. (EST) start on Sunday, is scheduled to be televised live by College Sports Television (CSTV), which will broadcast a variety of Notre Dame events in 2003-04 in the first of a multi-year agreement.
This year’s Shamrock Invitational will welcome three NCAA qualifiers from a year ago to the Joyce Center, as Notre Dame will face Indiana (Sept. 12 at 7 p.m.), Utah (Sept. 13 at 7 p.m.), and South Carolina (Sept. 14 at 1:30 p.m.) in its home tournament, with the Gamecocks also taking on each of the other two teams in afternoon matches on Sept. 12 and 13.
In addition to non-conference home matches vs. Purdue (Sept. 17 at 7 p.m.) and Illinois State (Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.), Notre Dame will play host to BIG EAST opponents Villanova (Sept. 26 at 7 p.m.), Georgetown (Sept. 28 at 2 p.m.), Seton Hall (Oct. 10 at 7 p.m.), Rutgers (Oct. 12 at 2 p.m.), and Syracuse (Nov. 2 at 2 p.m.).
The Irish will try to continue their home success, which features a 50-0 record in the Joyce Center against conference foes since joining the BIG EAST in 1995, as well as a current 33-match regular-season winning streak at home.
When venturing away from the Joyce Center, the Irish will face a series of stiff challenges, including five matches against teams finishing in the top 12 in last year’s final national rankings. The season-opening Four Points Sheraton Classic, slated for Aug. 29-30, will offer Notre Dame an immediate test, with matches against three teams ranked in the top 25 at the end of last season, including two NCAA quarterfinalists. Arizona, which reached the final eight in the NCAAs in 2002 and finished ranked 10th, will take on Notre Dame to start the season. On the tournament’s second day, the Irish will take on host Pepperdine, which was No. 6 in the final national poll a year ago, and Eastern Washington (24th).
The following weekend, Notre Dame will travel to Austin, Texas for the Longhorn Classic, playing Houston on Sept. 5 and the host Longhorns the following day.
In addition to road matches against BIG EAST foes St. John’s (Oct. 4), Connecticut (Oct. 5), Boston College (Oct. 24), West Virginia (Nov. 15), and Pittsburgh (Nov. 16), the Irish will have four additional non-conference matches away from home. In addition to a trip to Rhode Island on Oct. 23 to play the Rams for the first time since 1990, the Irish will travel to powers North Carolina (12th in ’02 final poll; Oct. 21), Northern Iowa (9th; Nov. 11), and ’02 NCAA runner-up Stanford (2nd; Nov. 29), with the final match to be played in Palo Alto, Calif. the same day the schools meet in football.
The 2003 NCAA Championship begins Dec. 4 on campus sites and concludes Dec. 18-20 in Dallas, Texas. The Irish will try to earn their 12th consecutive berth to the NCAAs.
This year’s Notre Dame squad returns 12 monogram winners, including all six starters, from last year’s team that was 24-8, won the BIG EAST Championship, and played host to the first two rounds of the NCAA Championship, advancing to the second round of the tournament.
Tickets for all 2003 Irish home matches are available via the Notre Dame ticket office at (574) 631-7356.
Once again, 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 stats for all home contests, as well as live audio broadcasts of selected matches in the Joyce Center will be available at www.und.com.