Sept. 30, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Two televised matches this weekend lie ahead for the Notre Dame volleyball team, who are tied on top of league standings with a perfect 2-0 BIG EAST Conference record. The Irish are knotted with St. John’s (2-0) and Pittsburgh (2-0) through one week of league competition.
Last weekend the Irish defeated USF and Georgetown and a sweep of this week’s field would give Notre Dame the 600th win in program history.
Notre Dame’s offense is paced by Christina Kaelin’s 151 kills (3.08/set) and Kellie Sciacca’s .318 hitting percentage. Sciacca was named the league’s player of the week on Monday for her noteworthy performances at USF and Georgetown. Jamel Nicholas (7.80 assists/set) continues to guide an attack that has posted a .216 clip through 14 matches this season. On the defensive side of the net, Justine Stremick has recovered from an injury that kept her off the floor for the first several matches of the season to stuff 39 shots for a 1.34/set average. The Irish have five players averaging at least 2.00 digs/set.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(7-7 overall / 2-0 BIG EAST)
(5-7 overall / 1-1 BIG EAST)
Oct. 4 â€¢ 2 p.m. (ET) â€¢ Cardinal Arena
TV: WHAS-11 (local)
Live stats: uoflsports.com
(10-5 overall / 0-2 BIG EAST)
Oct. 5 â€¢ 2 p.m. (ET) â€¢ Fifth Third Arena
Live stats: gobearcats.com
Bump, Set, Spike …
â€¢ The Irish swept a pair of league foes to start the BIG EAST conference portion of their schedule last weekend … a 3-1 win at USF was followed by a 3-0 sweep at Georgetown … the win over Georgetown was the 10th consecutive for Notre Dame over the Hoyas … Georgetown carried a perfect 5-0 home record heading into Sunday’s match without dropping a set in McDonough Gym … sophomore Kellie Sciacca had 20 kills in her first BIG EAST match of the season while posting a .643 average at USF (Sept. 26) … she slammed 16 kills versus the bulls before recording an error (and finished with only two errors on 28 attempts) … freshman Kristen Dealy registered a double-double in her BIG EAST debut … she blitzed the Bulls for 13 kills and 13 digs with one ace in four sets.
â€¢ With the 3-1 win at USF, Notre Dame improved to 13-1 all-time in BIG EAST Conference openers … the lone loss came in 2007 at Pittsburgh after an epic fourth set that saw the two teams combine to score 82 points … there were 27 ties and 15 lead changes in the elongated period, and Notre Dame’s Adrianna Stasiuk contributed nine of her 14 kills in the set … the Irish set a school record for most points in a four-set match (131), and tied the program’s mark for the fourth-highest point total in an affair of any length … their 40 points in set four was the most ever won in a single game, eclipsing the previous high of 37 in set one of a 3-1 victory over Eastern Washington in 2003.
â€¢ A Nov. 9 match against Cincinnati in 2007 marked the first time that sisters Megan Fesl (Notre Dame) and Annie (Cincinnati) played on opposite sides of the net … adding to the mix their father, Rich, sang the national anthem to open the match … “I’ve always thought it would be pretty cool to sing the national anthem at a sporting event,” Rich said … “and here, the opportunity presented itself” … Rich and his wife, Joan, sat with their large extended family and were seen donning specially designed t-shirts, which featured both the Fighting Irish and Bearcat logos, capturing their divided loyalties … the elder Fesl and her Irish squad came out on top of the Fesl duel … Megan sported a .429 hitting average by means of 14 kills on 28 swats with only two errors while Annie logged 43 assists and had a pair of service aces … one week later the two teams met during the BIG EAST Tournament … hitting the 20-kill mark was Megan, who totaled 21 smacks for scores in an Irish win.
Series History …
â€¢ Notre Dame swept Cincinnati in 2007, taking a regular-season contest and downing the Bearcats in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship … in 2006, the Irish redeemed a regular-season loss by knocking the Bearcats out of the BIG EAST Championship with a come-from-behind win in five games … it was the first time Notre Dame had trailed 2-1 and came back to win on the season … the match also marked the second time all season that Notre Dame had a pair of players with 20+ kills in the same match … Mallorie Croall had 25 kills while Adrianna Stasiuk slammed 23 … Christina Kaelin had 11 kills in the contest, all of which came in the final two games … Cincinnati’s 3-0 win in October 2007 was its first defeat of an Irish squad … the first-ever match between the teams was a five-game affair in the 1987 Eastern Kentucky Colonel Invitational in Richmond, Ky. (Notre Dame won with a 15-10 fifth set) … the schools did not play again until an Irish win in the opening round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament in Columbus, Ohio … Zanette Bennett cranked 31 kills against the Bearcats in the 1987 match, a total which stands tied for the third-highest ever by an Irish player in any length match … she finished with a .529 hitting mark in that match, which is the second-highest mark in program history in a five-game affair … Irish great Mary Jo Hensler (1981-84) hails from the Cincinnati area … the Irish hold a 24-9 advantage in sets won in the series … Megan Fesl (Notre Dame) holds a 2-0 lead in the `Fesl Feud’, pitting the Irish not just against Cincinnati but her younger sister, Annie.
â€¢ The Irish battled Louisville twice in 2007, splitting the pair of contests … Kellie Sciacca checked in with a career-best .632 clip with 14 kills on 19 swings for Notre Dame in a 3-0 loss to No. 22 Louisville during the second round of the 2007 BIG EAST Tournament … the first meeting of the season, a nationally-televised contest and Notre Dame’s senior day, saw the Irish deal UofL a 3-1 defeat to crack a two-match losing streak to the Cardinals … Louisville’s setback dropped its record to 20-5 overall and blemished what was previously an undefeated league mark, heading home with a 13-1 conference record … the Irish also faced Louisville in the 2006 BIG EAST Tournament finale (Nov. 19) … the fifth-seeded Irish fell to second-seeded Louisville in five sets – 30-26, 30-25, 24-30, 17-30, 12-15 … Christina Kaelin led the Irish attack with 18 kills and Adrianna Stasiuk had her 17th double-double of the season with 13 kills and 12 digs … in 2003 postseason action, the Cardinals knocked Notre Dame out of the NCAA tournament with a 3-0 first-round win … Louisville defeated Notre Dame twice in 2006, the first time the Irish had ever dropped multiple contests to the Cardinals in the same season … both squads have been nationally ranked in four of the 19 overall contests and have split those four matches … at least one team has carried a national ranking in 13 of the last 17 matches between the squads … the schools have played five five-game matches since 1994, with Notre Dame winning three … in the 1994 meeting in the Joyce Center, the Irish had 94 kills to rank fifth on the school’s all-time list … the two teams first played in 1986, with the Irish winning 3-0 in Louisville … after six consecutive Notre Dame wins, UofL broke through at home in 1992 with a 3-1 upset of the 20th-ranked Irish … Christina Kaelin played her prep ball at Assumption in Louisville.
The Deal On the ‘Ville …
Lecia Brown provided a boost with 13 kills and eight blocks but the Cardinals could not overcome St. John’s this past weekend, dropping a 3-2 decision … Louisville picked up its first conference win at Connecticut with a 3-1 win over the Huskies … the Cardinals were chosen as the preseason favorite to win the BIG EAST title.
How ‘Bout Them Bearcats …
The Bearcats lost their first two BIG EAST matches of the season, 3-0 to St. John’s on and 3-2 to Connecticut … freshman Missy Harpenau provided the highlight of the week, recording the team’s first double-double of the season (kills and digs) against IUPUI … in that 3-0 win, Harpenau registered 11 kills and 12 digs … Cincinnati was tabbed third in the BIG EAST preseason poll, one spot ahead of Notre Dame.
BIG EAST, Big Numbers …
A healthy offensive production this past week jolted Notre Dame and several of its individual players near the top of the BIG EAST’s statistical leaders … Kellie Sciacca’s hitting percentage is eighth overall (.311) and second in league play (.558) … with 3.22 kills/set, Christina Kaelin’s overall average is ninth while her league mark of 4.29 kills/set is third … Justine Stremick (1.19) and Tara Enzweiler (1.14) rank third and fourth, respectively in blocks/set overall … setter Jamel Nicholas, who had a career-high 47 assists at USF (Sept. 26), is third among lead tossers with 11.86 assists/set … Notre Dame is second (14.43) as a team in that category while hitting .316, also the second-best clip.
Sciacca Tabbed BIG EAST Player Of The Week …
For the first time this season a Notre Dame volleyball player earned the BIG EAST Conference’s Player of the Week award when the league named sophomore middle blocker Kellie Sciacca its top player on Monday (Sept. 29) for her performances during Irish wins at USF (Sept. 26) and Georgetown (Sept. 28) … Sciacca had 20 kills in her first BIG EAST match of the season while posting a .643 average against USF … She recorded 16 kills versus the Bulls before recording an error and finished with only two faults on 28 attempts … her hitting percentage in the contest is the fourth highest ever in school history for a four-set match … she followed that performance with nine kills on 15 swings with three errors for a .400 average at Georgetown … Sciacca also added an ace and one solo block against the Hoyas … for the weekend, she averaged 4.14 kills/set with a .588 hitting clip … the Monument, Colo., native was part of the league’s honor roll on Sept. 1 … the BIG EAST named Sciacca its Freshman of the Week three times in 2007 – the most among league rookies – as she was a part of the league’s honor roll on four occasions … Sciacca was also the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s (AVCA) Northeast Region Freshman of the Year last season.
The Final Countdown …
If the Irish defeat Louisville, a win at Cincinnati will give Notre Dame its 600th overall win … Notre Dame is 598-342 (.636) in its 29th season of varsity competition … the Irish are also 141-16 (.898) in BIG EAST regular-season play … this is the 14th season of BIG EAST membership for the Irish.