Senior Danielle Herndon will be playing the last two home regular season matches of her career this weekend at the Joyce Center

Notre Dame Volleyball to Host the Shamrock Invitational This Weekend

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Aug. 30, 2006

THIS WEEK: The Notre Dame volleyball team (1-0) has a very busy week of action as the 12th edition of the Shamrock Invitational begins this weekend. There will be a game before the opening game as Valparaiso (3-0) takes on visiting Broncos from Santa Clara (3-0) at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1 in the Joyce Center. The tournament officially kicks off at 4:30 p.m. as Idaho (0-3) and #13 Missouri (3-1) square off. The #21 Fighting Irish have the night cap against Valparaiso at 7 p.m. After a short break the tournament resumes the following day, Sept. 2 with a 10 a.m. match between #13 Missouri and Valparaiso. A match-up of #21 ND and Idaho follows at 12:30 p.m. Idaho and #13 Missouri will have the third match of the day at 4:30 p.m. The Shamrock Invitational concludes on Saturday evening with a College Sports Television televised match (the match will be tape delayed and shown on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 3 at 6 p.m.) between #13 Missouri and the #21 Fighting Irish at 7 p.m.. The Irish busy slate comes to a close on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 3, with another marquee match-up as #6 Santa Clara and #21 Notre Dame take to the court at 2 p.m.

THE RADIO PLANS: Notre Dame’s official website,, will feature live Internet audio of all 12 home matches in 2006. Stephen Hinkel and Chris Masters, two former collegiate volleyball sports information directors and veterans of announcing Notre Dame volleyball will have the call for free all season long. Hinkel will on the air flying solo for this weekend’s action.

REAL-TIME STATISTICS: All Irish home matches will have live-in game statistics courtesy of College Sports Online’s GameTracker, via the Notre Dame athletic website,

QUICK HITS ABOUT THE IRISH: Below are some highlights of the note package. For more details on any topic, consult the remainder of the release.

* Notre Dame opened the 2006 season on Saturday, August 26 with a 30-24, 30-28, 30-26 home victory over Bowling Green. Leading the Irish was freshman Christina Kaelin (24 kills, .465) and senior Danielle Herndon (17 digs), plus juniors Ashley Tarutis (27 assists, 2 service aces, 6 digs) and Adrianna Stasiuk (10 kills, 10 digs).

* The win was Notre Dame’s 16th consecutive to open a season.

* Freshman Christina Kaelin’s (KAY-lynn) 24 kills in her first match is tied for the second most kills ever recorded by a Notre Dame volleyball player in a three-game match.

* Kaelin for her efforts was named the BIG EAST Rookie of the Week for the week ending Aug. 27.

* Kaelin is the first Notre Dame BIG EAST Rookie of the Week since sophomore Mallorie Croal (KROLE) in Sept. 2005

* Christina Kaelin is the current leader in the conference with her kills average of 8.00 per game

* Fellow freshman Tara Enzweiler (ENZ-while-er) is the league leader in blocks per game (2.33)

* Behind the strong setting of Ashley Tarutis (tuh-ROO-diss) and freshman Jamel Nicholas (juh-MEL), the Fighting Irish lead the conference is assists per game (16.33).

* Junior outside hitter Adrianna Stasiuk (a-dree-ANN-uh stu-SHEWK) has always played well against Valparaiso with a kills average of 3.58 and a hitting percentage of .294.

* Following the Bowling Green match, junior setter Ashley Tarutis has now led the team in assists 64 times in her career, or every match she has played in.

* With senior Danielle Herndon leading the team in digs against Bowling Green with 17, it was only the 13th time over the last two years that someone other than former libero Meg Heican was the digs leader.

* The last time Notre Dame played ranked team on consecutive days before this weekend was in 2003 to open the season against #10 Arizona and #5 Pepperdine.

* The Fighting Irish have not been swept in a regular season match since the 2004 season against then #2 Nebraska.

* Notre Dame has high hopes for the upcoming 2006 campaign as the squad returns three starters and eight monogram winners.

* Last season ND went 30-4, including a mark of 13-1 in BIG EAST play, which tied them for conference regular season title.

* Notre Dame won all three games at the BIG EAST Championship in Louisville, Ky. to take the championship title and the automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time.

* Notre Dame after defeating Dayton and Northwestern in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, advanced to the round of 16 before falling to Wisconsin in five games all four defeats for Notre Dame during the 2005 season were the five-game variety.

* The 2006 Fighting Irish were chosen as the favorites in the BIG EAST Conference for 11th time in 12 seasons

* ND has not dropped an opening day match since before the Debbie Brown era in 1990.

* The Irish will be led by their co-captains senior Danielle Herndon and junior Adrianna Stasiuk.

* Also returning is junior setter Ashley Tarutis, who set a new school record with 1,573 assists last season.

* Joining the strong nucleus this season is one the highest ranked freshman classes in the country (third by Volleyball Magazine and fifth by

* Head Coach Debbie Brown returns for her 16th season at the helm of volleyball program.

* Two additions to the coaching staff this season are former Virginia Tech head coach Greg Smith and Kevin Lane.

* The Fighting Irish enter the AVCA’s preseason poll at #21, which is the highest preseason ranking for the squad since 2001 when the team was ranked 20th.

* ND will take on nine teams in 10 matches this season that were participants in the 2005 NCAA Volleyball Tournament.

* For the fourth consecutive season Notre Dame will have a television match, this time against #13 Missouri on CSTV on September 2.

* ND has four matches on home football weekends this season.

* Danielle Herndon is the lone senior on the team, the first time since 1983 that the Notre Dame roster will only have one senior.

* Over the last 15 years Notre Dame is an impressive 181-29 (.861) at the Joyce Center.

* The Fighting Irish has compiled an overall record of 120-7 (.945) including a record of 67-1 at the Joyce Center during regular season play against BIG EAST competition since joining the conference in 1995.

* This is the 35th anniversary of women’s athletics at Notre Dame, in celebration the volleyball team and the female athletic teams at Notre Dame will wear special patches on their uniforms this season. There will also be a special celebration in April. For more information see the info located toward the back of this notes package.

SCOUTING VALPARAISO: The Crusader (3-0) began the 2006 campaign by winning all three matches at the Chicagoland Classic to take the crown … Valpo has now won two in-season tournaments each of the last three seasons and have four more tournaments, including the Shamrock Invitational this weekend, remaining … Freshman Angie Porche has made an impact with double figure kills in each of her first three games … Valparaiso’s two seniors on the squad have both played well in the first three games … Jessie Fox leads the team with 42 kills and Alex Chism is averaging over five digs per game … Valpo are the preseason choice for second in the Mid-Continent Conference despite having won the league three straight seasons and making the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three years … this will be the last Crusaders season in the Mid-Continent Conference before they head to the Horizon League in 2007 … Head Coach Carin Avery, a Mishawaka, Ind. native, has an impressive record of 106-31 at the helm of Valparaiso.

SERIES VS. VALPARAISO: ND and Valparaiso, formerly North Star Conference rivals, will meet for the ninth consecutive year and 24th time overall, which will place Valpo second among the most-common opponent in the history of ND varsity volleyball … after VU won the first two meetings, ND won 18 in a row from 1981-2003 before the Crusaders prevailed 26-30, 30-24, 30-26, 24-30, 15-12 in the Joyce Center in 2004 … the teams met again in the 2nd round of the 2004 NCAA’s, with ND winning 30-21, 20-30, 30-28, 30-20 … last season Notre Dame swept Valpo, 34-32, 30-21, 30-26 … the Irish had posted 10 straight 3-0 wins before `04 and have won 39 of the last 43 games (overall games: ND 61, VU 12) … this will be VU’s fourth trip in as many years to the Joyce Center, where they are 1-9 … ND’s 20 victories vs. VU are the most against any opponent … ND won all five North Star matches from 1983-87, as well as a pair in the NSC tournament in Chicago (’86 and ’87) … the `03 match saw a pair of ND records, as Jessica Kinder had 28 digs, the most-ever in a three-game contest, and Emily Loomis set a mark for most kills in a match without an error, with 24 … in `84, ND had 17 aces in a three-game victory over Valpo, the most-ever for the Irish in any length match … freshman Kim Kristoff (Carmel, Brebeuf Jesuit Prep, Team Indiana) is the only current Indiana native on the Irish roster.

SCOUTING IDAHO: The Vandals (0-3) had a tough opening weekend in the Oklahoma tournament, dropping all three matches to some very tough competition in Oklahoma, Arkansas and North Carolina … Idaho is the preseason pick for fourth in the strong Western Athletic Conference … The Vandals went 16-14 a year ago to secure a winning season for the third consecutive season … Idaho returns their three top players from a year ago senior Saxony Brown (SAX-an-ee), Haley Larsen and Sarah Loney (LONE-ee) … Larson and Loney were both selected to the WAC All-Freshman team … Larsen was also a Second Team All-Conference Selection, as she led the Vandals with 385 kills … Larsen has continued the strong play this season as she is the team leader with 37 kills … Sophomore Kelsey James has worked as the primary setter for the first three matches … the Vandals are led by Debbie Buchanan who is now in her seventh season (90-90) … the Idaho roster consists predominately of players that are from the west: with a player from Montana and British Columbia, two from Oregon, three from Idaho and four from California and Washington.

SERIES VS. IDAHO: This will be just the third-ever meeting between Notre Dame and Idaho … the first match came in the 1989 Gonzaga Invitational in Spokane, Washington with Notre Dame falling 8-15, 15-4, 5-15, 7-15 … ND tied the series by winning the second meeting at the Joyce Center in the 2001 Shamrock Invitational 30-28, 28-30, 30-22, 30-25 … Julie Harris (McCall, McCall-Donnelly), a Byron V. Kanaley Award winner, who played from 1990-93 is the only Idaho native to play for the Irish … Idaho is one of two school’s from the Western Athletic Conference on the schedule this season (Hawai’i is the other) … the last time ND squared off against a team from the WAC was in 2004 in a five-game win over Fresno State. ND-IDAHO MATCH-BY-MATCH: See below the match scores of all previous contests between the Irish and Vandals.

SCOUTING MISSOURI: The Tigers (3-1) have begun to establish themselves as one of the elite programs nationally. … a year ago, Missouri went 25-5 and reached the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet Sixteen for the first time in school history … this season the Tigers opened the season with a drubbing of Alabama A &M with a combined margin of victory of 65 points … Missouri then fell in three games to Long Beach State before regrouping with a three game victory over Villanova … Missouri opened the home portion of the schedule with a 3-0 over Arkansas-Little Rock on Tuesday evening in front of a opening day record crowd of 1,855 … the Tigers are one of the better home draws in volleyball with an average home attendance of more than 2,600 fans a match last year … MU were picked third in the Big 12 this season behind two teams ranked among the top-five nationally (Nebraska and Texas) … Missouri began the season ranked #13 in the AVCA’s Preseason Coaches Poll .. the Tigers are led by the senior trio of Jessica Vander Kooi, Nicole Wilson and Abbie Booth … Vander Kooi was among the Big 12’s top four in kills, aces per game and digs per game last year … the newcomers to keep an eye on are Lei Wang, Lindsey Hunter and Amanda Hantouli … Wang has taken the starting setter position and is averaging better than 10 assists per game (10.92) … Freshman Jessica Klein has tallied 13 service aces this season, including seven in a match against Villanova …Vander Kooi, a Preseason All-Big 12 Selection, has lived up to her advance billing, as she is the team leader with 54 kills and is second with 45 digs … the match-up with the Tigers will be shown taped delayed on CSTV on Sept. 3 at 6 p.m. … the Tigers are led by husband-wife duo of Wayne and Susan Kreklow … the Kreklow’s have been coaching Missouri together for seven years, with Susan holding the official title of head coach until 2005 and Wayne assuming the mantle at the start of last season … the duo have compiled a record of 137-52 as head coaches at Missouri through the start of this season … overall the duo has compiled a record of 646-162 in this their 20th overall season of coaching either separately or together.

SERIES VS. MISSOURI: Notre Dame and Missouri will be meeting in volleyball for only the second time … the first match in 1985 saw Missouri prevail 3-1 … the last time ND played a team from the Big XII Conference was last year’s 3-0 win over Oklahoma in the UTSA Dome Rally … Debbie Brown holds an 18-14 career record against current teams of the Big XII Conference … ND and Missouri have met 14 times in other sports with Tigers holding a 9-5 advantage … the majority of those match-ups have come in men’s basketball (MU holds a 6-2 advantage).

SCOUTING SANTA CLARA: The Broncos (3-0) are one the top program in all of college volleyball … Santa Clara advanced all the way to NCAA Tournament semifinals a year ago before falling to the top seed Nebraska … the Broncos have started the season well by winning the first three matches … Junior middle blocker Anna Cmaylo has carried the team with 42 kills and a .623 hitting percentage … she was named the All-Tournament Team of the Fresno Invitational and also took home Player of the Week honors in the West Coast Conference this past week … fellow senior Kim McGiven has also played well this season with 43 kills, an average of 5.38 in the eight games she has played in … Junior setter Crystal Matich has done an excellent job of setting up her attackers with 123 assists, an average of 13.67 a game and was award with the MVP award of the tournament … Jon Wallace, now in his eighth year as the head coach at Santa Clara, has gone 159-58 including last years mark of 27-5

SERIES VS. SANTA CLARA: The Irish and the Broncos will meet for the first time since 1993 and the third time overall … SCU has won each of the two previous meetings … this will be the second trip for Santa Clara to the Joyce Center and the first match up of these two schools since 1993, when Santa Clara outlasted then #14 ND in five games in the Golden Dome Invitational … the Broncos have won five of the seven games between the two schools … the two schools first played each other in 1985 with SCU winning all three games … Freshman outside hitter Serenity Phillips (Valley Center, Valley Center H.S., Vintage) joins sophomore outsider hitter Mallorie Croal (Villa Park, Mater Dei H.S, Golden West) and junior setter Ashley Tarutis (Long Beach, Los Alamitos, Golden West) as the current California natives on the ND roster … the state of California has contributed more players to the ND all-time roster (24) than an other state … among the other California natives who have suited up for ND is Christy Peters, the all-time career kills leader at Notre Dame (1,683) and all-time games played leader Janelle Karlan (491).

SHAMROCK INVITATIONAL HISTORY: This will be the 12th staging of the Shamrock Invitational. The event began in 1993 and has been held in Sept. in the Joyce Center every season except 1994 and 2004. Notre Dame holds a 27-4 (.871) all-time mark in the Shamrock Invitational and has been crowned the champion eight times, including each of the last five tournaments. With the two new teams this season, Valparaiso and Missouri), a total of 27 teams have taken part in the Shamrock Invitational, with only three (Louisville, South Carolina and this year Idaho) participating more than once. Including Missouri this season, seven nationally-ranked team have participated. This will be the eighth time that Notre Dame is ranked heading into the Shamrock. In the most recent staging, the Irish beat then #11 Texas and Arizona State on back-to-back days in five game sets to take the tournament title. Last season former Fighting Irish volleyball player Lauren Brewster became the second player ever named as the MVP twice, the other being Christy Peters (1993 and `94). See chart on top of page of pdf for detailed history of the Shamrock Invitational.

SHE’S A CRUSADER ENEMY: Junior Adrianna Stasiuk has had a solid career against the Crusaders from Valparaiso. In three career matches covering 12 games, Stasiuk has tallied 43 kills, an average of 3.58 per game, on a .294 hitting percentage. Last year in a 3-0 win over Valpo, Stasiuk tallied a double-double with 13 kills and 12 digs. Junior setter Ashley Tarutis also tallied a double-double performance with 40 assists and 16 digs.

IRISH VS. THE RANKED: This weekend when the Irish take on #13 Missouri and #6 Santa Clara in back-to-back matches will be the first time since 2003 (against #10 Arizona and #5 Pepperdine to start the season) that ND has played two ranked team on consecutive days. Notre Dame split the two matches in 2003 dropping the first match to Arizona in four and taking the match against Pepperdine in five games. The Santa Clara Broncos will be the highest ranked Irish opponent to visit the Joyce Center, since last October 29 when Louisville lost a five game set to the Irish.

A NICE START TO A CAREER: Freshman Christina Kaelin had a tremendous start to her freshman season as she led the team in kills with 24. Her 24 kills are tied for the second most assists ever recorded in a three game match behind only the 25 recorded by Angie Harris on Sept. 15, 1995. The Assumption High School graduate was the first Notre Dame volleyball player to register at least in 20 kills in a match since another Louisville native Ellen Heintzman recorded 22 kills in a five game set against Tennessee on Nov. 26, 2005.

KAELIN NAMED BIG EAST ROOKIE OF THE WEEK: Christina Kaelin after her fantastic performance of 24 kills in 43 attempts with only four errors against Bowling Green was named the BIG EAST Rookie of the Week on Aug. 28. Her hitting percentage of .465 is the highest a Fighting Irish volleyball player had registered that had at least 20 kills since Lauren Kelbley hit .688 with 24 kills against Loyola-Chicago last season. Kaelin’s BIG EAST award was the first Rookie of the Week honor; the Fighting Irish have won since Mallorie Croal took home the honors on Sept. 5 of last season.

THE KIDS CAN PLAY: After the first week of action in the BIG EAST, two of Notre Dame’s freshmen are leading the conference in a category. Outside hitter Christina Kaelin leads the conference with her kills average of 8.00 per game while fellow first year player Tara Enzweiler is the league leading blocker with her average of 2.33 blocks per game.

WORKING AS A TEAM: The Irish are the current leader in the BIG EAST in assists per game at 16.33 per game. Junior Ashley Tarutis and freshman Jamel Nicholas combined for 42 of the 49 assists against Bowling Green.

NOTRE DAME IN SEASON OPENERS: With a three game sweep of Bowling Green this season, Notre Dame has won its lidlifter for 16 consecutive season, every year since head coach Debbie Brown arrived on campus. The last time the Irish started the season 0-1 was in 1990, when they lost in four games to Montana in the Washington State Invitational.

A NEW TREND: When senior Danielle Herndon led the team with 17 digs against Bowling Green, it was only the 13th time over the last two seasons that someone other than former libero Meg Henican led the team in that category. Two other current members (Adrianna Stasiuk and Mallorie Croal) of the roster were among the 13 times. For Herndon it was the third time in her career that she was the team leader in digs.

A HARD TEAM TO DEFEAT: The only time Notre Dame has been defeated in less than five games in a non-NCAA Tournament match over the last three years in was a three-game loss to then #2 Nebraska in 2004. That stretch covers 56 matches and 204 games.

NEW LEADERS: With the graduation of both captains from last season, the Notre Dame volleyball team has chosen two new leaders for this season. The new captains are senior Danielle Herndon and junior Adrianna Stasiuk.

WHO’S BACK? The Notre Dame volleyball team returns three starter and eight monogram winners from last year’s squad. Among the returnees, besides Herndon and Stasiuk, is all-time single season assist record holder (1,573) junior setter Ashley Tarutis. Also returning is junior outside hitter Ellen Heintzman (HIGHNTZ-min), and sophomores Madison Clark, Mallorie Croal, Annie Morkis (MOH-kris) and Justine Stremick (STREM-ick).

NEW FACES: The Notre Dame volleyball team has reloaded with seven highly touted freshman vying for playing time this season. The freshmen this year are Tara Enzweiler, Megan Fesl (FEH-sul), Christina Kaelin, Kim Kristoff (pronounced CHRIS-toff), Jamel Nicholas, Colleen Nolan and Serinity Phillips (suh-REN-ih-tee).

IRISH ARE THE BIG EAST FAVORITE: For the 11th time in 12 seasons as a member of the BIG EAST, Notre Dame volleyball program was chosen as the preseason favorite in the BIG EAST Conference. The only season Notre Dame was not chosen as the favorite since entering the league was last season’s second place prediction.

HONORS AND SELECTIONS: Junior outside hitter Adrianna Stasiuk and junior setter Ashley Tarutis were both chosen for the preseason All BIG-EAST squad.

WHERE WE RANK: The Fighting Irish enter the season ranked 21st in the CSTV/AVCA Preseason Poll. This is the highest preseason rank for ND since 2001 when they began the season 20th.

THAT’S A CHALLENGING SCHEDULE: Notre Dame has once again lined up one of the more challenging schedules in the country. Notre Dame will take on nine teams in 10 matches that were in the 2005 NCAA Tournament. The teams and round they were eliminated in goes as follows: Valparaiso (first round), Missouri (final eight), Santa Clara (semifinals), Alabama (first round), Kansas State (second round), Duke (second round), and Hawai’i (round of 16), Louisville (round of 16) and Ohio (round of 16).

IT JUST GETS TOUGHER: A closer look at the Notre Dame volleyball schedule reveals that out of 51 teams that are in the AVCA Preseason top-25 or received votes to be in the AVCA Preseason top-25, the Fighting Irish are schedule to play 10 matches against those nine teams. The ranked ND opponents in order of prediction are Santa Clara (#6), Hawai’i (#7), Louisville (#12), Missouri (#13), Ohio (#16), Kansas State (#25), Duke (received votes), Northern Iowa (received votes) and Cincinnati (received votes).

IN LIVING ROOMS EVERYWHERE: For the fourth time in as many season the Notre Dame volleyball team will have a game shown on College Sports Television. The Fighting Irish will have its match against #13 Missouri on Sept. 2 at the Shamrock Invitational at 7 p.m. taped delayed and shown by CSTV on Sept. 3 at 2 p.m. ND is one of only eight schools that has been part of the CSTV volleyball package every season since its inception. The others are (shown with `06 preseason national rankings) #1 Nebraska, #4 Stanford, #6 Santa Clara, #8 Texas, #19 Pepperdine, #24 Utah and Colorado State. The BIG EAST Champion game to be held on Nov. 19 at 4:00 p.m., which Notre Dame has played in for 11 consecutive seasons, will also be shown on CSTV this season.

HOME FOOTBALL WEEKENDS: For the sixth time in seven years, the Notre Dame volleyball team is scheduled to play matches this season that will precede football pep rallies. The start of the home BIG EAST play against Marquette on Oct. 6 at 4 p.m. will be the first of the two pre-pep rally matches for Notre Dame. Also on the schedule this season, the Connecticut match on Oct. 20 at 4 p.m. will take place before the pep rally for the UCLA game. Football-weekend guests will have the two other opportunities to see the Irish, all against BIG EAST competition. The day after the Stanford football game (Sunday, Oct. 8) Notre Dame will host Syracuse at 1 p.m., while Sunday, Oct. 22 will see the Fighting Irish hosting St. John’s at 2 p.m.

ALL BY HERSELF: Senior Danielle Herndon is the lone senior on the 15-person team this season, which is the first time since 1983 (Terese Henken) that the Irish have only had one senior on the team.

AN EXCEPTIONAL CLASS: The seven student-athletes who comprise the freshman class for the University of Notre Dame women’s volleyball team this season – MB Tara Enzweiler, OH/OPP Megan Fesl, OH Christina Kaelin, MB Kim Kristoff, S Jamel Nicholas, DS/L Colleen Nolan, and OH/OPP Serinity Phillips – earned high praise before even stepping on campus, as two publications ranked the group among the five best in the country. Volleyball magazine had Notre Dame third on its list of top recruiting classes appearing in the August issue, while placed the Irish fifth on a similar list. These cap off the accolades received by the group, which features four high school All-Americans, three Volleyball magazine Fab 50 selections, and two Gatorade State Players of the Year for volleyball.

Fesl, Kaelin, and Kristoff were on Volleyball’s Girls Fab 50 list of the top high school seniors in the nation, announced in April. It is the first time since 1997 (Denise Boylan, Christi Girton, and Jo Jameyson) – and just the third time ever – that Notre Dame has had three Fab 50 picks in the same class. The other instance was the 1994 group of Angie Harris, Jaimie Lee, and Carey May. The Irish are one of only five schools that have three or more on the Fab 50 list, joining Penn State (four), Pepperdine (three), Texas A&M (three), and Wisconsin (three). Notre Dame has now had 23 players earn Fab 50 designation since 1990, including at least one in 11 of the last 13 years.

AN INTELLIGENT BUNCH: The Notre Dame volleyball team posted one of its highest grade-point averages on record for the academic year in 2005-2006 and was recognized as a recipient of the Game/Plan American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award. The Irish, who had a spring team GPA of 3.380, were one of just 54 Division I Programs on the list and one of a group of 12 that also made the 2005 NCAA Tournament. The AVCA Team Academic Award honors college and high-school teams that display excellence in the classroom by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team GPA on a 4.0 scale. The Irish were previously honored with the award in 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2004-05.

SHE’S THE BOSS: Irish head coach Debbie Brown is beginning her 16th season as the leader of the Notre Dame volleyball program. She has led the Irish to a 374-122 mark (.754), while holding an overall record of 491-205 (.705). Brown’s Notre Dame teams have earned 14 consecutive NCAA tournament bids, advancing to the quarterfinals in 1993 and the round of 16 in `94, `95, and `97. Her squads have won 20 or more matches 13 times. A 10-time conference coach of the year and the only five-time BIG EAST coach of the year (4 in the Midwestern Collegiate and one in the Pac-10), she has coached 12 Irish players to All-American honors. The Irish have also claimed 14 regular season conference titles (4 Midwestern Collegiate, 10 BIG EAST) and 13 league tournament titles (4 MCC, 9 BIG EAST) under her watch. A co-captain of the 1980 U.S Olympic volleyball team after winning a pair of national championships and earning All-American honors twice while playing at USC, Brown graduated from Arizona State in 1982 and coached her alma mater from 1983-88, helping the Sun Devils to five NCAA Tournaments.

A NEW MAN IN PLACE: The Fighting Irish in 2006 will have a new assistant coach in place as Greg Smith, formerly the head man at Virginia Tech, has joined the Notre Dame volleyball family this season. Smith compiled a record of 81-94 (463), including 37-38 (.493) in his five years in command of the Hokies. Smith replaces Robin Davis who took the head position at Boise State. Also joining the volleyball coaching staff, as volunteer assistant is Kevin Lane. Lane is an experienced coach on several levels having most recently spent time at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne, aiding the Mastodons to a runner-up finish at the National Independent University Tournament.

AN IMPRESSIVE STREAK: Notre Dame’s current 14 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances is behind only seven other schools nationally (Stanford (25), Penn State (25), UC Santa Barbara (25), Nebraska (24), Long Beach State (19), USC (15) and Florida (15)) for consecutive appearances in the Big Dance.

HOME SWEET HOME: Notre Dame’s Joyce Center has become one of the most difficult places in the nation for road teams to win at, especially since the arrival of head coach Debbie Brown in 1991. Over the last 15 seasons, Notre Dame has posted a 180-29 record (.861) home record. The Irish have put together some impressive winning streaks on the home court, winning 14 or more matches in a row at home on five different occasions, highlighted by a streak of 27 (1993-95), and 36 (2000-02) straight home victories. Notre Dame also won 74 in a row in regular season action against conference opposition from 1991-2004. On 15 different occasions Notre Dame has topped a ranked team at the Joyce Center, including five upsets of teams ranked in the top-10. During the Brown era Notre Dame holds a home record of 171-10 (.945) against unranked teams at home.

CLASS OF THE CONFERENCE: Notre Dame has experienced unprecedented success in the 11 years since joining the league in 1995. The Irish have compiled a 120-7 (.945) regular season mark, highlighted by 10 titles and winning streaks of 45 and 35 consecutive matches. Notre Dame is 67-1 (.985) in BIG EAST regular-season contests in the Joyce Center. The Irish have won nine BIG EAST tournament championships, posting a mark of 22-2 (.917) in the event and reaching the final every season. The Fighting Irish have also dominated the conference awards; winning player-of the-year honors six times and coach-of-the-year five times. On nine occasions an Irish player has been named to the league tournament’s most outstanding player. Also, Notre Dame players have taken home 40 all-conference accolades, including 24 first team honors.

KEEPING UP WITH VOLLEYBALL: For the fastest results of Notre Dame volleyball matches call the Notre Dame sports hotline at (574) 631-3000 and choose #5 and #1. The hotline provides schedules and results information for all Irish varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the match recaps and weekly releases provided on the official athletic website at In addition, media members and fans can be added to the sports information e-mail release list by contacting sports information assistant Joe Prisco, at All requests for story ideas, interview access, match credentials and further information on Irish volleyball should also be directed to Prisco. Credential and interview requests should be made at least 24 hours in advance.

UP NEXT: Another weekend brings with it the challenge of another tournament, this time the Fighting Irish will travel to Cedar Falls, Iowa to participate in the UNI Invitational from Sept. 8-9. The Irish will begin play on Friday, Sept. 8 against Alabama at 6 p.m. Notre Dame will have a pair of matches on Saturday, Sept. 9 against the tough pair of #25 Kansas State at 11 a.m. and North Iowa at 8 p.m. Alabama and Kansas State both earned berth’s in the 2005 NCAA Tournament