April 3, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Seven teams that earned bids to last year’s NCAA Tournament – including Final Four participant California – highlight the University of Notre Dame volleyball team’s schedule for the upcoming 2008 season, which was recently released by Irish head coach Debbie Brown.
Notre Dame, entering its 29th season of volleyball action, will host a pair of tournaments at the Joyce Center in 2008, kicking things off with the Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 29-31). IPFW, Nevada, and Valparaiso will comprise the field in the three-day event, as Notre Dame will face each of those teams over the course of the tournament.
“I’m excited about being able to host two tournaments with the way the schedule worked out for the upcoming season,” said Brown. “We were able to put together a schedule that afforded us the opportunity to play 13 home dates in addition to venturing out to face some of the nation’s top programs. Our record at home has been pretty good over the past several years, so as many times as we can play at home the better it is for us. I think that with the combination of our home games along with a solid conference road ahead of us, this is a schedule that will allow us to do some really big things.”
In the friendly confines of the Joyce Center, Notre Dame has posted an all-time record of 198-37 (.843) under Brown since she took over the reins of the program in 1991.
The team will hit the road for the Idaho Volleyball Classic (Sept. 5-6) held in Moscow, Idaho, for the program’s first-ever visit to the Gem State. The host Vandals will also entertain Eastern Washington and Washington State that weekend.
Three ranked teams in Cal Poly, California, and Minnesota await the Irish when the Gophers host the Diet Coke Classic from Sept. 12-14. Both Cal Poly (11th) and California (4th) found spots in the final CSTV/AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 poll last season, with the Bears falling to eventual national champion Penn State in the post-season tournament’s semifinal round.
“This tournament (at Minnesota) may pose one of our biggest challenges of the year,” Brown noted. “The field is made up of some really strong teams, and luckily we’ll have the opportunity to play some matches beforehand to get us better prepared for such a talented group.”
After welcoming Liberty, UC Irvine, and Western Michigan to the Golden Dome Invitational (Sept. 19-21), the Irish will spend the next two weekends on the road to start the BIG EAST Conference portion of their schedule. Trips to South Florida (Sept. 26), Georgetown (Sept. 28), Louisville (Oct. 4) and Cincinnati (Oct. 5) will be trailed by an Oct. 11-12 home twinbill with West Virginia and Pittsburgh.
“The BIG EAST keeps getting better and better every year and this season will be no exception,” said Brown. “I think it’s going to be a really good year for the BIG EAST and we’ll have our hands full with that. I do think we’re preparing ourselves well before we enter that part of this season’s schedule.
“It’ll be tough heading out to play Louisville and Cincinnati on the road. Those were two key wins for us here at home down the stretch last year and we’ll have to win them again if we want to be competing for the regular season conference title as well as the tournament crown.”
The Irish travel to Long Beach State – a team that was ranked 23rd at the end of last season – on Oct. 22 and resume conference play with matches on each of the next four weekends leading up to the league tournament, which will be hosted by Pittsburgh in the Fitzgerald Fieldhouse from Nov. 21-23.
Xavier (Nov. 28) is slated to visit Notre Dame prior to the NCAA Tournament (Dec. 4-20). This year’s final and semifinal matches will be played at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb.
The Irish capped of their 17th consecutive winning season by posting a 15-13 overall record in 2007. They will return 12 members from that squad, including rising seniors Mallorie Croal and Justine Stremick.