Dec. 10, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame head volleyball coach Debbie Brown was named the AVCA Division I Northeast Region Coach of the Year and four Irish players earned all-region honors, as announced by the AVCA Wednesday night. Each of the four players -Christina Kaelin, Serinity Phillips, Jamel Nicholas and Kellie Sciacca – also will be considered for All-America status.
“I could not be happier for our four all-region award winners,” Brown said. “They each posted outstanding individual efforts that helped our team achieve great things match after match. Each of them worked hard during matches, at practice and in the weight room. It’s great to know that their hard work has not gone unnoticed.”
Brown put the Irish back at the forefront of the BIG EAST Conference in 2009, as the Fighting Irish landed a spot in the NCAA Tournament and ranked as high as No. 23 on the AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Poll. Notre Dame finished the year with a 21-7 overall record after going 15-0 in BIG EAST regular-season play. The Irish secured the program’s 19th winning season, each of which have been under the direction of Brown, and earned an 11th BIG EAST regular season championship. The team’s 15-match winning streak earlier this season tied for the second longest in program history. For her efforts, Brown was lauded as the 2009 BIG EAST Coach of the Year. This marks Brown’s third AVCA Region Coach of the Year award as she also earned the distinction in 1997 and 2005.
“All the credit for this award goes to the coaching staff, team and the entire Irish program,” Brown said. “While I’m honored to receive the award, it’s simply a reflection of the efforts from each individual throughout the season.”
On the heels of an All-American season in 2008, Kaelin’s all-region honor was her second in as many seasons. A first team all-BIG EAST performer, Kaelin finished in a tie for sixth in league play with 3.65 kills/set including 11 double-figure kill outputs. She averaged 3.92 points/set with a .268 hitting percentage, and pounded Cincinnati for 20 kills on Oct. 10. Kaelin currently has 982 kills (3.30/set) and has accounted for 1045.0 points in just three seasons with the Irish.
Nicholas was also a first team all-BIG EAST choice and finished her career with 3,094 assists, the fifth-most in school history. Her 7.30 assists/set average ranks ninth all-time. Notre Dame hitters swung at a .253 rate behind the direction of Nicholas, who was also second on the team with 23 aces. She posted 2.38 digs/set.
Phillips was a versatile force for Notre Dame throughout the season and posted at least 16 kills in five league matches and accounted for 3.56 kills/set, 1.94 digs/set and 1.27 blocks/set against conference foes. Phillips became the 18th player in program history to record at least 1,000 career kills, totaling 1,154 through four seasons.
An all-region honorable mention for the second straight year after earning the Northeast Region’s Freshman of the Year award in 2007, Sciacca was also a second team all-BIG EAST performer in 2009 after leading the league in individual hitting percentage (.429). Already one of the most prolific hitters in Irish history, Sciacca post an overall average of .359 in 2009, the seventh-best single-season mark in program history. In fact, each of her three single-season marks rank among the program’s top 11. Her .343 career clip is second all-time.