Louisville native Christina Kaelin hopes to earn the first BIG EAST Championship title of her career this weekend in her hometown.

Quest For 10th BIG EAST Tournament Title Starts Friday For Irish Volleyball

Nov. 18, 2009


Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | BIG EAST Championship Central

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Heading to the city in which it claimed its last BIG EAST Conference Tournament trophy, the Notre Dame volleyball team treks to Louisville to face Seton Hall this Friday (Nov. 20) at 3:30 p.m. (ET) in the opening round of this year’s league championship. Top-seeded Notre Dame, winner of its last 14 matches and the league’s regular-season champion, is currently ranked 23rd in the nation.

The 2009 league tournament taking place at Louisville’s Kentucky International Convention Center features the BIG EAST’s top eight teams from the regular season standings.

Though all 16 members of the BIG EAST Conference field women’s volleyball teams, Providence College ceased its league participation in the sport after the 2002 season.

The other 15 schools take part in round-robin play during the regular season, and the top eight teams then participate in the BIG EAST Championship, a single-elimination tournament with the winner receiving the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. This championship format is a departure from the traditional four-team event that had been in place since the Irish joined the league (with the exception of 1999, when the league experimented with an expanded three-day, six-team event).

Notre Dame has experienced unprecedented success in the 14 years since joining the league in 1995. The Irish have compiled a 162-21 (.885) regular-season mark, highlighted by nine tournament titles and winning streaks of 45 and 35 consecutive matches. Notre Dame once earned 58-straight victories at home in BIG EAST regular-season play. Irish volleyball squads carried a home conference winning streak of 74 straight matches from 1991 to 2004, which include wins over both Midwestern Conference and BIG EAST opponents.

The Irish have won nine BIG EAST Tournament championships, posting a 27-5 (.844) mark in the event while reaching the final match in their first 12 tournaments. After taking a one-year hiatus from the finals, the Irish returned in 2008 before falling to Louisville. Notre Dame has also dominated the league’s postseason awards, winning player-of-the-year honors six times and coach-of-the-year award on five occasions.

On nine occasions, an Irish player has been named the league tournament’s most outstanding player. Notre Dame student-athletes have garnered 50 all-conference accolades – including 26 first-team honors – which accounted for nearly one-third of the total first-team honors handed out during the span.

Prior to joining the BIG EAST, Notre Dame was a member of the North Star Conference from 1983-87 and the Midwestern Collegiate Conference from 1990-94. The Irish won regular-season and tournament titles in the NSC in 1986 and 1987, then captured both the regular-season and tournament championships in the MCC from 1991-1994. In 24 years of conference participation, Notre Dame has won 17 regular-season crowns and 15 league tournaments while compiling a 219-34 (.866) mark in regular-season conference matches.

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BIG EAST Conference Championship
Kentucky International Convention Center
Nov. 20-22 • Louisville, Ky.
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In-Game Twitter: twitter.com/NDVolleyball

No. 23 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
20-4 overall / 14-0 BIG EAST
[und.com • bigeast.org]

Friday, Nov. 20
$10.00 – Adults
$5.00 – Youth / Seniors
Free – BIG EAST students with ID / children two and younger

Saturday, Nov. 21 and Sunday, Nov. 22
$7.00 – Adults
$5.00 – Youth / Seniors
Free – BIG EAST students with ID / children two and younger

All-Session Pass
$20.00 – Adults
$12.00 – Youth / Seniors

Driving Directions
From Lexington: I-64 West to Third Street exit … take Third Street to Jefferson Street … turn right on to Jefferson Street … the convention center is located at Jefferson Street and Fourth Street.

From Cincinnati: I-71 to I-64 West to Third Street exit … take Third Street to Jefferson Street … turn right on to Jefferson Street … the convention center is located at Jefferson Street and Fourth Street.

From Indianapolis: I-65 South to Jefferson Street exit … take the Jefferson Street exit … the convention center is located at Jefferson Street and Fourth Street.

From St. Louis: I-64 East to Ninth Street exit … at the traffic light at the end of the Ninth Street exit ramp, turn left on to Market Street … take Market Street to Fourth Street … the convention center is located at Market Street and Fourth Street.

From Nashville: I-65 North to the Brook Street exit … take the Brook Street exit … continue on Brook Street to Jefferson Street … turn left on Jefferson Street … the convention center is located at Jefferson Street and Fourth Street.

The Kentucky International Convention Center offers two garages for visitors. The Cowger Garage is located at Fourth Street and Market Street. The Commonwealth Garage is located on Jefferson Street (between Third Street and Fourth Street). Spectators may also choose to park in any lots nearby.

Bump, Set, Spike …
• Notre Dame is off to its best start since 2005 when that squad was 22-2 through the first 24 matches of the campaign … Notre Dame is the only team in the BIG EAST to finish the regular season without a conference loss (14-0) … the team’s last loss came Sept. 20 at Florida State, 3-2.
• Notre Dame has won 14 in a row – all against league foes – and 17 of its last 18 matches … seven times since joining the league in 1995, the Irish have streaked through the conference schedule without a loss … the last time was in 2001 (12-0) … the Irish are now 102-7 (.936) in their home confines against conference foes.
• Irish head coach Debbie Brown has shelved over 400 wins with Notre Dame and won five BIG EAST Conference Coach of the Year awards since joining the league in 1995 … the 2009 season is her 19th at the helm of the Fighting Irish program … with a career record of 561-250 (.691) in her 25th season as a head coach, Brown has a 444-167 (.727) mark at Notre Dame.

Current Irish Players In the BIG EAST Championship …
• Notre Dame’s senior class is 5-3 in the BIG EAST Championship with a pair of trips to the final match (2006 and 2008) … Louisville defeated the Irish in each of those contests as well as a second-round matchup in 2007.
• Kellie Sciacca’s .632 hitting percentage (14-2-19) posted against Louisville during the 2007 tournament showdown in Milwaukee is the highest clip of any Irish player in postseason league play … she enters this year’s tournament with a .422 average in 18 career sets played in the event.
• Christina Kaelin (21) and Megan Fesl (21) have each posted 20+ kill performances in the league tournament … Kaelin did so against St. John’s in 2008 with Fesl doing the deed versus Cincinnati in 2007.
• Kaelin leads Notre Dame with a career average of 3.77 kills/set … she has played in 22 sets with 83 kills and a .274 hitting percentage in the conference tournament.

Cracking the Poll …
After receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 Poll for nine consecutive weeks, the Irish found themselves ranked 24th on Nov. 9 and bumped ahead to No. 23 this past week … the Irish were last ranked for the first two weeks of the 2006 season (21st) … RichKern.com deemed Notre Dame the 22nd-best team in the nation according to its Nov. 16 poll while the Irish are No. 26 in the Pablo Rankings … Volleyball Magazine ranks Notre Dame as its 23rd-best team in the nation … the Irish have an RPI of 14 … Notre Dame is the highest ranked BIG EAST Conference team in each poll.

Streaking Across the Nation …
The 14-straight wins put together by the Irish is the nation’s fifth-best active streak behind Penn State (28), Northern Iowa (24), Florida International (21) and Hawaii (21).

It’s Becoming a Regularity …
One week after securing the No. 1 seed for the upcoming BIG EAST Conference Championship, Notre Dame powered past Georgetown (Nov. 13) to clinch the league’s regular-season title for the 11th time in program history … it was the first outright title for the Irish since 2004 after tying for first in 2005 … Notre Dame received 12 kills from Kellie Sciacca and overcame deficits in each of the three periods to sweep the Hoyas for the eighth consecutive time … the Irish improved to 14-0 against BIG EAST opponents and extended the nation’s fifth-longest winning streak to 14 matches with a 3-1 win over USF (Nov. 15) … Notre Dame became the second team in league history to win each of its 14 regular-season conference contests as St. John’s accomplished the feat in 2006, the first season in which the BIG EAST extended the league slate to 14 games … now with seven undefeated BIG EAST regular-season efforts under its belt, Notre Dame last went unscathed in BIG EAST play in 2001 (12-0) … the victory also earned the program its 18th 20-win season in 30 years of varsity competition.

Nationwide …
Notre Dame ranks 21st nationally with a .265 team hitting percentage … the Irish are 25th overall with 14.07 kills/set and 33rd with 12.84 assists/set … Jamel Nicholas is 21st nationally with 11.21 assists/set and Kellie Sciacca ranks 25th with a .369 hitting pct.

Inside the BIG EAST …
In conference-only play, Notre Dame finished the regular season first in opponent hitting percentage (.147) and kills (14.32), second in assists (13.12), and third in blocks (2.92) and hitting percentage (.263) … Kellie Sciacca took the hitting percentage title (.429) … Christina Kaelin tied for sixth with 3.65 kills/set and Jamel Nicholas was third with 11.42 assists/set … Tara Enzweiler was seventh overall with 1.28 blocks/set and Serinity Phillips was seventh with 4.49 points/set.

Kaelin Cops BIG EAST Player of the Week Award …
Christina Kaelin became the fourth Fighting Irish player to be named BIG EAST Player of the Week this season, earning the honor on Nov. 9 … Kaelin shouldered much of the offensive load for Notre Dame in a pair of conference road wins at Marquette (Nov. 6) and Syracuse (Nov. 8) … she registered double-digit kills in both matches with 17 versus the Golden Eagles and 13 versus the Orange … the win over Syracuse snapped a 10-match home winning streak for the Orange.

Cleaning Up On the Road …
Syracuse recorded eight blocks and held Notre Dame to a season-low 15 points in the opening frame of a Nov. 8 match but the Irish rallied back to sweep the remaining sets while snapping the Orange’s 10-match home winning streak … Notre Dame kept its own streak alive by winning its 12th consecutive match … Notre Dame is now 7-0 in four-set matches this season and has won eight of nine contests on the road … thirty ties and 13 lead changes marked Notre Dame’s victory at Marquette to snap a two-match skid to the Golden Eagles … Notre Dame was aided by 15.0 blocks in the win including eight apiece from Hilary Eppink and Serinity Phillips.

Nicholas Earns Academic All-District Honor …
Senior setter Jamel Nicholas was named ESPN The Magazine second-team Academic All-District V, as announced Nov. 5 by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) … to be nominated for the distinction, a student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.30 cumulative grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) at her current institution … in addition, nominated student-athletes must have participated in at least 50 percent of the team’s games at their respective positions … Nicholas, a co-captain for this year’s team, was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week on Oct. 12. She also earned nods on the Notre Dame / adidas All-Tournament team and the Xavier Invitational All-Tournament team earlier this season … Nicholas has a 3.34 grade-point average and is pursuing majors in sociology and film, television and theater … she plans on enrolling in Notre Dame’s ACE program after graduation … the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) is a two-year service program offering college graduates the opportunity to serve as full-time teachers in under-resourced Catholic schools across the southern United States.

Punctuated Performances at Purcell Pavilion …
Notre Dame started last weekend with a 3-1 win over Seton Hall (Oct. 31) in the opening match of the newly renovated Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center … Kristen Dealy had 18 digs and accounted for 18.0 points with 16 kills (.483), two blocks and a service ace to open the match … the win gave Notre Dame a 7-0 record in the month of October … the sixth BIG EAST sweep of the season for Notre Dame came against Rutgers (Nov. 1) as the Irish sent the Scarlet Knights home with a 3-0 defeat and held the visitors without a service ace … it was the 17th consecutive win over Rutgers and the 100th win for Notre Dame on its home floor against league opponents … the victory gave Notre Dame another feather in its cap as the Irish have now registered 10 or more BIG EAST regular-season wins for the 11th time since joining the league in 1995.

Dealy Headlines Honor Roll …
Sophomore outside hitter Kristen Dealy has been a steady force throughout the season for Notre Dame and most recently appeared on the BIG EAST Honor Roll (Nov. 2) … Dealy led the Irish in kills against Seton Hall (16) and Rutgers (11) and also had a match-high 18 digs versus the Pirates while chipping in six more versus the Scarlet Knights … she cleanly fielded nine serves against Rutgers while anchoring an Irish defense that held the Scarlet Knights without an ace … Dealy tossed up the first serve ever in Notre Dame’s newly-renovated Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center in Saturday’s match against Seton Hall, which resulted in an ace … she hit .483 against Seton Hall and finished with weekend with 27 kills on a .365 average … when the dust settled, Dealy totaled 29.5 points with 3.86 kills/set and 3.43 digs/set … she had only four errors on 63 swings.

Phillips Picks Up BIG EAST Player Of The Week Award …
Senior outside hitter Serinity Phillips was named the BIG EAST Volleyball Player of the Week on Oct. 19 … Phillips led Notre Dame to wins at Pittsburgh (Oct. 17) and West Virginia (Oct. 18) to improve the team’s BIG EAST record to 7-0 … Phillips made sure there was no letdown one week after recording her 1,000th career kill against Cincinnati (Oct. 10) … she had an all-around effort at Pittsburgh by helping Notre Dame to a victory with 11 kills, seven digs and five blocks … against West Virginia, Phillips hit .351 while racking up 18 kills and adding five digs and five blocks … the Valley Center, Calif., native led all BIG EAST players that week with 5.67 points/set.

Nicholas Notches BIG EAST’s Weekly Award …
Senior captain Jamel Nicholas came through with big play after big play while helping maintain her team’s flawless BIG EAST record with wins over two of the conference’s top squads in Cincinnati (Oct. 10) and Louisville (Oct. 11) … the efforts earned her the BIG EAST Player of the Week award on Oct. 12 … Nicholas led the Irish past the Bearcats with 52 assists, three kills, eight digs and two blocks … each of her three clutch aces in the fifth set of that win were part of a 6-0 Irish run to close the books … she went for 45 assists and 14 digs against Louisville.

Serinity Hits 1,000 …
Senior outside hitter Serinity Phillips recorded her 1,000th career kill against Cincinnati (Oct. 10), finishing with 17 kills (.298), seven digs, six blocks and 20.0 points in that match … Phillips became the 18th player in program history to record at least 1,000 career kills … the last to do so was Irish volunteer assistant coach Adrianna Stasiuk … she accomplished the feat during her senior season in 2007.

20+ for Kaelin … Again …
Notre Dame got 20 kills from senior outside hitter Christina Kaelin versus the Cincinnati (Oct. 10) … it was the ninth match of her career with 20 or more kills … the effort tied her for sixth all-time in that category with Kristy Kreher (1998-2001).

Brown Reaches Milestones …
When Irish head coach Debbie Brown guided her team to a 3-0 win against Villanova on Oct. 4 it marked her 800th overall match on the sideline as a head coach and 600th with the Irish … to top the cake, it was Brown’s 550th career win.

Revenging Villanova …
One of the nation’s top serving teams came into the Joyce Center for a league matchup on Oct. 4, but it was Notre Dame that aced visiting Villanova for a 3-0 win … the Irish recorded eight aces – including four from senior setter Jamel Nicholas – against a Wildcat squad that entered the match ranked second in the country with 2.33 aces/set … Villanova mustered just a pair of aces against Notre Dame … furthermore, the Irish win snapped a two-match losing streak to the Wildcats after Notre Dame had won the first 16 meetings between the two schools.

I Know What You Did That Weekend …
BIG EAST Conference play started with the Irish posting a four-set win at Connecticut (Sept. 25) to improve to 14-1 all-time in BIG EAST openers … senior outside hitter Serinity Phillips posted outrageous numbers in that match and nearly clinched a triple-double … Phillips had 16 kills, 12 digs and nine blocks for 21.5 points against the Huskies to open BIG EAST play (she was also one block shy of a triple-double against Marquette in 2008) … senior outside hitter Christina Kaelin led Notre Dame to a 3-0 win at St. John’s with 13 kills and a .500 hitting percentage as the Irish posted their first sweep over the Red Storm since 2004.

Phillips Earns Honor Roll Recognition …
Senior outside hitter Serinity Phillips was part of the Sept. 21 edition of the BIG EAST Honor Roll … Phillips put up stellar numbers and inched closer to the 1,000-kill mark for her career with 37 kills (3.70/set) at Florida State’s Seminole Tri-Tournament … she also averaged 1.70 digs/set over the weekend … Phillips followed an 18-kill, 13-dig, and five-block performance in a win over Miami (Sept. 19) by tagging the host Seminoles (Sept. 20) for 19 kills on a .432 hitting average (her best ever in a five-set match) … she also had two aces and four blocks against the Hurricanes while adding five blocks versus Florida State … Phillips averaged 4.35 points in her 10 sets played and posted 20+ points in both of Notre Dame’s matches.

Career Day for Dealy …
Sophomore outside hitter Kristen Dealy went for 21 kills against No. 19 Florida State (Sept. 20) … the mark was a new career high for the second-year swinger, who also added seven digs, two blocks and an ace versus the Seminoles for 23.0 points … the output came one day after Dealy logged her second double-double of the season against Miami with 14 kills and 11 digs.

The Miami Marathon …
Four Irish players posted double-figure kills as the Irish rallied to down Miami, 3-2, in opening action at the Seminole Tri-Tournament hosted by Florida State … Notre Dame trailed, 2-0, before taking the final three sets behind 18 kills and 13 digs from Serinity PhillipsChristina Kaelin (11), Kellie Sciacca (14) and Kristen Dealy (14) each joined Phillips with 10+ kills on the day … the last time Notre Dame dropped the first two sets in a win was against Houston in 2003 … Dealy added 11 digs to match Phillips’ double-double in Notre Dame’s first five-set match this season … Sciacca had seven blocks – three solo – with Phillips adding four more of the team’s 11.5 rejections.

Stalemates at the Seminole Tri-Tournament …
Notre Dame faced a formidable field at the Seminole Tri-Tournament with matches against Miami (Sept. 19) and No. 19 Florida State (Sept. 20) … both matches lasted five sets and featured 63 knotted scores and 26 lead changes … 18 ties highlighted the second set of the match versus the Hurricanes.

Irish Earn Stripes at Notre Dame / adidas Invite …
The Irish hosted the Notre Dame / adidas Invitational and swept the competition with wins over Wisconsin (Sept. 11) and New Mexico State (Sept. 13) … after dropping the first set of the matchup against Wisconsin, Notre Dame rallied to take the final three periods en route to a 3-1 win … not only was it the first win against the Badgers for Irish head coach Debbie Brown in six tries – and Notre Dame’s first since 1987 – but it was just the second win overall for Notre Dame against a Wisconsin program that eliminated the Irish from their last three NCAA Tournament appearances (2004, 2005 and 2006) … it was the first time Notre Dame lost the first set in a win since Nov. 22, 2008, against St. John’s.

Trio Find Spot On adidas All-Tournament Team …
Sophomore Kristen Dealy and seniors Serinity Phillips and Jamel Nicholas were each named to the Notre Dame / adidas All-Tournament team for their performances against Wisconsin (Sept. 11) and New Mexico State (Sept. 13) … Dealy, the tournament MVP, averaged 4.43 kills/set and 2.57 digs/set … Phillips went for 3.86 kills/set and 1.71 digs/set while Nicholas put up stellar numbers with 11.14 assists/set and 2.57 digs/set while leading Notre Dame to a .324 hitting percentage … in playing pivotal roles for Notre Dame in the opening match against the Badgers, Dealy and Phillips slammed down 19 kills apiece, a career-high for Dealy and season-high for Phillips.

Hang It On the Fridge …
Sophomore outside hitter Kristen Dealy was named the BIG EAST Conference Player of Week on Sept. 14 … the Santa Barbara, Calif., native earned the honor on the heels of being named MVP of the Notre Dame / adidas Invitational after leading the Irish to wins over Wisconsin (Sept. 11) and New Mexico State (Sept. 13) … Dealy posted a season-best 19 kills with 13 digs for a double-double and three aces in the tournament’s opening match against the Badgers … Dealy added 12 kills against New Mexico State while cleanly fielding 24 serves in the tournament finale.

Aces By Irish …
Notre Dame showed signs of improvement in its serving as is evident by its 14 aces and 12 errors in two matches at the Notre Dame / adidas Invitational (Sept. 11-13) … heading into the event, Notre Dame had just 30 aces and 68 service errors … five players – Kristen Dealy, Jamel Nicholas, Megan Dunne, Stephanie Slatt and Frenchy Silva – had multiple aces during the tournament … in fact, a career-high four aces came off the stroke of Slatt after she went back-to-back from behind the stripe on a pair of occasions during pivotal Irish runs against New Mexico State (Sept. 13).

Queen City Queens …
Senior outside hitter Serinity Phillips and senior setter Jamel Nicholas both earned all-tournament nods at the Xavier Invitational (Sept. 4-6) … Phillips poured in a season-high 20 kills against Xavier (Sept. 4) on a .459 average and had 11 digs against Tennessee (Sept. 5) … she averaged 3.40 kills/set while Nicholas punched in 11.10 assists/set … for her efforts, Phillips was named to the BIG EAST Conference’s Weekly Honor Roll.

Point Irish, Point Wolverines …
Notre Dame and Michigan combined for 60 points in the second set of a Sept. 6 matchup at the Xavier Invitational, setting the Irish record for scores in the 25-point set era … the set had 13 tie scores and three lead changes … Notre Dame stared at set point after a Lexi Zimmerman attack error (24-23) and Michigan would eventually get the win after converting its sixth set point … previously, Notre Dame and Valparaiso combined for 58 points in the third set of an Aug. 31, 2008, meeting … Valparaiso won the set, 30-28, while escaping with the match victory.

Conquering the Cardinal …
For just the second time in program history – and the first since 1993 – Notre Dame earned a win over a top-five opponent, as the Irish dealt No. 5 Stanford a 3-0 loss on Aug. 29 … Notre Dame’s last win over a ranked opponent came at home against Louisville on Nov. 11, 2007, while the lone win versus a top-five opponent came on Sept. 25, 1993, when the 14th-ranked Irish defeated No. 3 Nebraska at the Joyce Center … the Irish and Cardinal last met in 2003 with Stanford pulling out a 3-0 win … the 2008 NCAA Championship runner-up had never dropped a match to Notre Dame in six tries until this season … the Irish have earned 32 wins against ranked teams and 13 victories over top-10 teams … furthermore, the 1,843 fans in attendance to watch Notre Dame knock off Stanford made up the largest crowd to view a game in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse and the 15th-largest crowd overall in Irish history.

BIG EAST Deals Honor To Dealy …
Sophomore Kristen Dealy was named to the BIG EAST Honor Roll (Aug. 31) one day after being tabbed to the Shamrock Invitational all-tournament team … the outside hitter narrowly missed out on a pair of double-doubles during Irish sweeps over Denver (Aug. 28) and No. 5 Stanford (Aug. 29) … Dealy had nine kills against both the Pioneers and Cardinal before peppering LSU with 15 on a .400 average … she also cleanly fielded 40 consecutive serves through three matches before committing an error … Dealy led Notre Dame with 3.67 kills/set and 2.78 digs/set over the three matches.

All-Tournament Nods …
Senior Serinity Phillips joined sophomore Kristen Dealy on the Shamrock Invitational all-tournament team … Dealy led the Irish against the Tigers with 15 kills while narrowly missing out on double-doubles in Notre Dame’s first two matches … Phillips steadied the Irish attack with 3.11 kills/set and 2.89 digs/set in the three matches … LSU’s Michele Williams, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, finished the three-match event with 37 kills (2.85/set) and 19 blocks (1.46/set) … Brittnee Cooper (LSU), Cassidy Lichtman (Stanford), Gabi Ailes (Stanford) and Emmy Davidsmeyer (Denver) rounded out the all-tournament team.

Preseason Honors …
Senior outside hitter Christina Kaelin and junior middle blocker Kellie Sciacca both earned all-BIG EAST preseason nods, as voted upon by the league’s coaches … the duo brought home second team all-BIG EAST honors at the conclusion of last year’s regular season … Kaelin went on to rack up all-region and Honorable Mention All-America honors from the AVCA in 2009 … Notre Dame was picked alongside Cincinnati to finish second in the BIG EAST standings.

All In the Family …
Senior Tara Enzweiler will be joined on campus this year by a few familiar faces … two of her brothers, Thomas and Matthew, are also undergraduates at the University … moreover, each of the three were valedictorians at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, N.C.