June 30, 2005
Ten teams that earned bids to last year’s NCAA Championship, including five that finished the ’04 campaign ranked among the national top 16, will highlight the 2005 schedule for the University of Notre Dame women’s volleyball team, announced yesterday. The Irish will begin action on Saturday, Aug. 27, playing host to rival Michigan to kick off a 14-match home slate that includes a pair of high-level tournaments and four matches on home football weekends.
Three of the first six Irish matches will come against squads that were in the top 15 of the final `04 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll: Texas (11th, round of 16 in NCAA tournament, Sept. 3 at home), USC (4th, semifinals, Sept. 9 in San Antonio), and Florida (15th, second round, Sept. 11 in San Antonio). Toward the end of the regular season, new BIG EAST member Louisville (16th, round of 16, Oct. 29) and Tennessee (10th, round of 16, Nov. 26) will visit the Joyce Center.
The home schedule will feature the return of the traditional Shamrock Invitational (Sept. 2-4), now in its 10th year and this time sponsored by The Inn at Saint Mary’s. Additionally, 2005 will see the first-ever Irish Thanksgiving Invitational, to take place Nov. 25-26. For the fifth time in six years, there will be a match immediately preceding a football pep rally, as the Oct. 21 contest with South Florida (4 p.m. EST/CDT) will be before the pep rally for the Brigham Young game. Football-weekend visitors will have three other chances to see the Irish, all against BIG EAST competition. The day after the BYU football game (Sunday, Oct. 23) Notre Dame will play host to Georgetown at 2 p.m. (EST/CDT), while the Navy football weekend (Nov. 12) will also see the Irish in action twice: Saturday at 10 a.m. (EDT) vs. Villanova and Sunday at 2 p.m. against Rutgers.
In all, Notre Dame will play matches in 10 states and 12 different cities in 2005. Among the notable trips will be the first-ever visits for the Irish volleyball team to San Antonio (Sept. 9-11) and New Orleans (Sept. 16-17). In fact, the latter will be the first time the squad has been to the state of Louisiana since ’89. Additionally, Notre Dame volleyball will return to a trio of Midwest cities, all featuring schools that are joining the BIG EAST for the ’05 season. The Irish will play a pair of matches in Chicago (Sept. 27 and Oct. 15) after not seeing action in the country’s third-largest city since 1996. The ’05 campaign also will mark the team’s first trip to Louisville (Nov. 18-20) since ’94 (and first to the state of Kentucky since ’01) and the first to Milwaukee (Oct. 2) since 1986. Among the more traditional road destinations will be the states of Connecticut (Storrs), New York (Syracuse and Jamaica), Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh), and West Virginia (Morgantown), plus a third match in Illinois (in Normal).
With the departure of Boston College to the Atlantic Coast Conference and the addition of five new institutions, the ’05 BIG EAST Conference season will have a new look. Louisville, defending Conference USA champions, will make their first trip to the Joyce Center since 1999, while Cincinnati (4th place in C-USA in ’04) will come to Notre Dame on Oct. 30 for just the second time ever. On Oct. 21, the University of South Florida (will visit the Joyce Center for the first-ever meeting between ND and USF in women’s volleyball. The Irish will travel to Marquette (2nd in C-USA) on Oct. 2 to take on the Golden Eagles for the first time since 1997. Notre Dame and DePaul will be league rivals for the first time since being members of the North Star Conference from 1983-87. The schools have not played since 1995.
Among returning conference rivals, the Irish will face Pittsburgh – last year’s BIG EAST tournament runner-up and an NCAA qualifier – on Nov. 6 away from home, and will travel to Syracuse (T-2nd in BIG EAST in ’04) for the second year in a row on Sept. 30.
The BIG EAST Conference Championship, slated for Nov. 18-20 in Louisville, will take on a new format in 2005, with the top eight teams qualifying.
Out of conference, eight of Notre Dame’s 14 opponents will be ones that made the ’04 NCAA tournament: Michigan (2nd round), Texas, USC, Florida, Loyola Chicago (1st round, Sept. 27, away), Valparaiso (1st round, Oct. 5, home), Rice (1st round, Nov. 25, home), and Tennessee. The Ramblers’ new head coach is Marcie Bomhack, who graduated in 2002 after a career at Notre Dame that saw her post 1,016 kills, 704 digs, and 294 blocks.
ND head coach Debbie Brown will see her squad take on a pair of schools with which she has former ties. As Debbie Landreth, she led the Women of Troy to a 72-1 record and two national championships (1976 and ’77) as an outside hitter who twice won the Mikasa Award as the nation’s best all-around player. Following her sophomore season, Landreth left school to be a captain of the 1980 United States Olympic Team. After that endeavor, she returned to school at Arizona State, where she served as an assistant coach from 1980-82 before leading the program from 1983-88. In six seasons as head coach, she compiled a 117-83 record and reached the NCAAs five times. The Sun Devils will take part in the Shamrock Invitational, playing the Irish on Sept. 4. ASU’s last visit to the Joyce Center came in 1985, when the Brown-coached Devils won in three games. It will be the first meeting between the schools at any location since 1993.
In other non-conference action, the Irish will take on Oklahoma for the first time since 1995 on Sept. 10 in the UTSA Dome Rally, which will be played in the Alamodome in San Antonio, the same site as the ’05 NCAA final four. Also, ND will head to the Sugar Bowl Classic Sept. 16-17 to play both Louisiana State (first match between the schools since 2001) and Tulane (first since ’86 and ND’s first-ever trip to Tulane). The Irish will head to traditional rival Illinois State on Oct. 17 and then play host to Saint Louis on Nov. 2.
One thing absent from the ’05 schedule is a jaunt to the state of California, which has produced more Notre Dame volleyball players (22) than any other state and has ties to all three current Irish coaches. It will be just the second time in Brown’s 15 years at Notre Dame that the Irish have not visited the Golden State, with the other being the 2001 campaign. Instead, the most-Western trip for ND in ’05 will be to San Antonio.
The 2005 NCAA Championship begins Dec. 1-4 with first- and second-round action on 16 campus sites, continues Dec. 8-11 with regional action in four cities (Omaha, Neb.; University Park, Pa.; Stanford, Calif.; and College Station, Texas), and culminates with the semifinals on Dec. 15 and the final two days later at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The Irish have earned bids to 14 consecutive NCAA tournaments.
This year’s Notre Dame squad returns nine monogram winners, including six of seven starters, from last year’s team that was 21-9, won the BIG EAST regular-season and tournament championships, and advanced to the second round of the NCAAs, ending up listed 33rd in the AVCA poll.
Tickets for all 2005 Irish home matches are available via the Notre Dame ticket office at (574) 631-7356 and can be purchased online this season for the first time, at und.com.
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 scoring through CSTV’s GameTracker for all home contests, as well as live audio broadcasts of selected matches in the Joyce Center will be available at und.com, in addition to previews and reviews of all matches and other press releases.