Seniors Mallorie Croal and Justine Stremick will close their Irish careers at the Joyce Center on Friday..

Seniors To Be Honored During Final Home Volleyball Contest

Nov. 27, 2008

Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Seniors Justine Stremick and Mallorie Croal will lead the Notre Dame volleyball team into its final home contest this season with a Nov. 28 (Friday) match against Xavier at the Joyce Center. The two have steered Notre Dame to a 79-45 overall record since joining the team in 2005 and a 40-14 mark at home.

“We’re looking forward to having one final match here at home,” Irish head coach Debbie Brown said. “I think our spirits are high and even though we lost in the [BIG EAST tournament’s] championship match last weekend we know that we have the opportunity to end the season on a winning note to send out our seniors in the best possible way.”

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(16-14 overall / 9-5 BIG EAST)

Xavier Musketeers
(16-14 overall / 8-5 Atlantic 10)
Friday, Nov. 28 • 7 p.m. (ET)
Joyce Center • University of Notre Dame
Live audio / stats:

Bump, Set, Spike …
• With one match remaining on the 2008 schedule, Notre Dame has secured its 24th overall winning season since the program’s inception in 1980 and 18th consecutive (with each of the last 18 coming under the direction of head coach Debbie Brown) … Art Lambert guided the Irish to four winning seasons including two years with 30 or more wins … he was head coach from 1984-1990.

• The completion of the 2008 BIG EAST Championship saw the Irish earn a spot in the final match for the 13th time in 14 seasons since joining the league in 1995 … Notre Dame now sports a 27-5 (.844) all-time record in the league tournament with nine championships and four runner-up finishes … the Irish have faced Louisville in each of the last four conference tournaments while falling to the Cardinals in three of those matches – and twice in the finale … Notre Dame downed Louisville for the 2005 title … four Notre Dame players – Christina Kaelin, Serinity Phillips, Justine Stremick and Kellie Sciacca – were named to the all-BIG EAST second team … Phillips and Stremick joined Adrianna Stasiuk on the second team in 2007 … this season marked the first ever that Notre Dame had four players on the second team … Stremick and Kristen Dealy found spots on the league’s all-tournament squad.

• A win over Xavier could give Notre Dame a victory to close out the season for the second consecutive year … in 2007, Notre Dame traveled to Knoxville to hand Tennessee a 3-1 defeat … it was the first ever win for the Irish over the Lady Vols … this will be the first match against an Atlantic 10 Conference squad for the Irish since 2005, when they eliminated Dayton from the NCAA Tournament on Dec. 1 in five sets … Notre Dame is 34-9 all-time against the league and 17-1 under Brown.

Series History … The Irish boast a 9-1 overall record against Xavier … the two teams were members of the North Star (3-0) and Midwestern Collegiate (5-0) conferences as Notre Dame never dropped a match to the Musketeers in regular season league play … the lone loss to Xavier came during the 1984 North Star league tournament … the Irish have won each of the last seven matchups and have not dropped a set to Xavier since 1991 … Notre Dame was ranked in the previous four meetings from 1992-1994 … the teams played each other twice in 1984 and 1993.

Last Time Out …In its bid to upset a higher seeded team for the third time in as many tries, Notre Dame fell by a 3-1 (25-23, 28-26, 25-15, 25-22) count to Louisville in the final match of the BIG EAST Conference Championship at Fitzgerald Field House … the fifth-seeded Irish found themselves in the league’s final match for the 13th time since joining the conference in 1995 while third-seeded Louisville claimed its second championship in the past three seasons … senior Justine Stremick had 18 kills on a .455 average with three blocks as both junior Christina Kaelin and sophomore Kellie Sciacca each chipped in 12 kills … freshman Kristen Dealy has 11 kills and 11 digs … sophomore Megan Dunne led the Irish with 15 digs with freshman Frenchy Silva scooping 10 shots … junior setter Jamel Nicholas had a match-high 49 assists to lead the Irish to a hitting average of .233, bettering the Cardinal’s .216 mark … Stremick and Dealy earned spots on the all-tournament team for their efforts over the past three contests … Louisville’s Jana Matiasovska led all players with 21 kills and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

One of the BIG EAST’S Biggest … Notre Dame upset fifth-seeded Connecticut and top-seeded St. John’s en route to an appearance in the BIG EAST Conference Championship match for the 13th time in 14 tries before falling to Louisville, 3-1 … freshman Kristen Dealy averaged 3.73 kills/set and 3.27 digs/set throughout the tournament with senior Justine Stremick turning in a .429 hitting average highlighted by 18 kills against the Cardinals … Notre Dame matched a season-best three-match win streak with the win over the Red Storm as the Irish juiced the scoring column with three players reaching double-digit kill status as the team hit .349 … junior setter Jamel Nicholas dished out a match-high 59 assists versus St. John’s and junior Christina Kaelin recorded her third 20+ kill performance of the season with 21 knocks … Kaelin, who had just seven kills on a .048 clip in the tournament-opening 3-0 win over Connecticut, bruised St. John’s with a .474 average … the output tied her for ninth on Notre Dame’s all-time 20+ kills list, as her total of seven evens her with current Irish volunteer assistant coach Emily Loomis.

Over the Hump … Notre Dame overcame a deficit in the final set for the third consecutive match to post a win against St. John’s (Nov. 22) … the Irish trailed 20-15 in the fourth set before storming back to down St. John’s … on Nov. 16, they trailed 11-7 in the fifth set against UConn and 21-18 in the third set with the Huskies on Nov. 21 before rallying for wins.

Climbing Higher … Junior setter Jamel Nicholas is now ninth all-time on the assists list with her first career 1,000-assist season … she has 1,079 in 2008 and 1,930 for her career … senior Justine Stremick moved to eight on the block assists career list with 342 … she is also eight on the total blocks list with 431 … sophomore Kellie Sciacca now has over 1,000 attack attempts for her career to make her eligible to make a run at the career hitting percentage record … she is second all-time with a .337 average and Stremick is fourth at .302 … Malinda Goralski (1998-01) is first with a .361 clip.

Standing Tall … Justine Stremick helped the Irish hold one of the league’s top offensive units at bay with a season-high 10 blocks – three solo – in a Nov. 14 match versus St. John’s … the Irish recorded 19 blocks versus the Red Storm, the highest team total of the season … Stremick also tagged on 11 kills with only one error for a .455 clip in the five-set match … she then came back two days later with 17 kills and a .364 average against UConn (Nov. 16) and added five blocks against the Huskies … her efforts helped the Irish snap the Huskies’ seven-match win streak … seven of her kills came in the fourth set to swing momentum into Notre Dame’s favor and four more kills were racked in the final frame … the Irish limited the Huskies to respective hitting averages of .000, .073 and .059 in the last three sets of the match.

Irish Dealt Honor By BIG EAST … First-year outside hitter Kristen Dealy earned the BIG EAST Conference’s Freshman of the Week award (Nov. 17) … the Santa Barbara, Calif., native punched in a pair of double-doubles from Nov. 14-16 to bring her team-high total to 10 … Dealy was all over the court during a 3-2 win against UConn (Nov. 16), finding 17 digs and spiking home 16 kills in the win … Dealy collected 12 kills and matched a season high with 18 digs in Notre Dame’s 3-2 loss to St. John’s on Nov. 14.

Alive In Five … This season marks the 10th time since 1980 that the Irish have played in at least seven five-set matches in a solo campaign … the 1991 squad took part in a program-high 11 lengthened battles, finishing 6-5 in such bouts … four of Notre Dame’s last five contests – and five of the previous seven – have been decided in five sets … the Irish are 10-2 in three-set matches and 2-6 in four-setters.

The Rutgers Rout … Setting a program record for the largest margin of victory in the 25-point era, Notre Dame posted a 38-point win over Rutgers (Nov. 9) … it was the largest margin of victory during the 2008 campaign for the Irish, exceeding the previous best of 32 set earlier this season against West Virginia … the set scores went 25-13, 25-16 and 25-8 … the Scarlet Knights struggled with their hitting by posting a -.079 clip, the lowest by an Irish opponent this season and the strongest defensive effort from Notre Dame since holding DePaul to -.110 in 2005 … the Irish fell behind again in the final set, 1-0, but it had minimal effect on the outcome … Notre Dame posted runs of 4-0, 7-0 and 5-0 to help rock the Scarlet Knights to sleep … the action in the last frame was highlighted by the hot hands of the Irish swingers who connected for 12 kills on 29 attempts without a fault for a .414 average.

Stremick Stays Sharp In Classroom … For the third time in as many seasons senior Justine Stremick was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V First Team (Nov. 6) … Stremick was a second-team choice in 2007 and a third-team selection as a sophomore in 2006 … the Langdon, N.D., native boasts a 3.79 cumulative grade-point average as a math and life science major and was the only BIG EAST Conference player to collect first-team honors this season … she plans on attending medical school next fall … after surgically repairing her anterior cruciate ligament in April, Stremick returned to the court one month ahead of schedule with the help of team trainer Chantal Porter … Stremick’s twin sister and Army outside hitter, Briana, also notched first-team honors.

Phillips Fills Up Stat Line … Serinity Phillips narrowly missed out on notching Notre Dame’s first triple-double since 2004, finishing with 25 kills on a .375 average, 10 digs and a career-high nine blocks against Marquette (Nov. 2) … Phillips’ kill total was her best of the season and the most since she pounded Villanova 26 times in 2007 … she had a double-double with 16 kills and 13 digs against Syracuse (Nov. 1) with a .375 clip … Phillips averaged 4.10 kills/set and cleanly fielded 33 serves for a perfect average over the weekend … she was named to the league’s weekly honor roll on Nov. 3 … Notre Dame’s last triple-double came in 2004 against Illinois State … in the 3-2 win, Lauren Brewster (17 kills, 13 digs, 11 blocks) and Adrianna Stasiuk (14 kills, 11 digs, 11 blocks) each accomplished the feat … there have been 21 triple-doubles in program history, four of which were recorded by Zanette Bennett from 1987-88 … Phillips accounted for 30.5 of Notre Dame’s 88.0 points in the match … it was the highest point total for any player since 2005 when Lauren Kelbley (Loyola-Chicago) and Lauren Brewster (Arizona State) finished with 31.0 points … Kelbley’s total came during a three-set match … Phillips had a pair of double-doubles and narrowly missed out on a third from Oct. 21-Oct. 26 … she finished with 11 kills and 10 digs at Long Beach (Oct. 21) … also notched 11 kills and a career-high 22 digs at Villanova (Oct. 25) … the 22 digs tied her for team-high honors on the season and the most of any outside hitter … in a three-set match at Seton Hall (Oct. 26), Phillips wrapped up the match with seven kills with only one error for a .316 average, 11 digs and two solo blocks.

Juicing the Orange … Needing five sets to secure a win over Syracuse (Nov. 1) for the first time since 1990, Notre Dame prevailed over the Orange with a 3-2 victory … nonetheless, the home team posted a .377 hitting percentage to set a school record for a five-set match … the previous Notre Dame record for hitting percentage in a five-set match was .346, set versus San Francisco in 1991 … it was the first five-set win of the season in four tries and just the second five-period contest between Notre Dame and Syracuse in the 17-match series history … five Irish players finished with at least 10 kills for the first time since a 2007 date at Pittsburgh … traffic was directed by setter Jamel Nicholas and her career-high 68 assists.

Marked By Marquette … Playing in its second five-set match in as many days, Notre Dame stumbled in a 3-2 matchup versus Marquette (Nov. 2) … the match marked the first time Notre Dame played in consecutive five-set contests against a conference opponent since joining the BIG EAST in 1995.

The Offensive Engineer …Setter Jamel Nicholas has had at least 20 assists in each of Notre Dame’s matches this season with the Irish switching between a 5-1 and 6-2 offensive attack … Nicholas had a career-high 68 assists against Syracuse (Nov. 1) … it was the first time an Irish player had 60+ assists since Ashley Tarutis registered 63 in a three-set win over USF in 2007 … Nicholas currently ranks eighth on the school’s all-time assists list with 1,661 … she reached a noteworthy milestone at the Idaho Volleyball Classic (Sept. 5-6) by surpassing the 1,000-assist plateau … Nicholas shared time with Tarutis during her first two seasons with the Fighting Irish and now mentors freshman setter Beth Wildermuth.

Catch Us If You Can …The Irish have posted several impressive scoring streaks this season, most recently a 9-0 run during the fourth set of a five-frame loss at Villanova (Oct. 25) … the team boasted a 9-0 run at Georgetown (Sept. 28) and went on 10-0 jaunt against West Virginia (Oct. 11) … Notre Dame also posted 10 unanswered points in a home win over Nevada (Aug. 30), which covered the first and second sets … facing a four-point deficit (7-11) in the fifth set against Connecticut (Nov. 16), Notre Dame rattled off eight unanswered points to help deal the Huskies a 3-2 defeat … in 2007, the Irish scored on 12 consecutive rallies versus DePaul (Oct. 2007).

The Real Deal(y) …Freshman Kristen Dealy registered four double-doubles from Oct. 21-Nov 1, bringing her team-high total to eight … Dealy had 16 kills on a .286 average with 11 digs at Long Beach (Oct. 21) and added a pair of assists and six blocks – four of which were solo – versus the 49ers … she followed that with 15 kills, 15 digs and three aces with four blocks at Villanova (Oct. 25) … 10 of those digs came in the first set alone … Dealy’s four consecutive matches with a double-double tied her for sixth with four others on the all-time list … she is the first since Adrianna Stasiuk did so in 2005 … it is longest streak ever by a freshman.

Are We There Yet?Fall break may have meant classes were out of session at Notre Dame, but volleyball was in full swing … Notre Dame covered over 6,000 miles, caught six flights and hit ground in five states over the course of one week with matches at Long Beach (Oct. 21), Villanova (Oct. 25) and Seton Hall (Oct. 26) … Notre Dame went 1-2 on the road trip.

Irish Reach 600 …Eight team aces and 13 kills by freshman Kristen Dealy powered Notre Dame to win No. 600 in program history against West Virginia (Oct. 11) at the Joyce Center … following the win the Irish sported a 600-343 (.636) overall record in their 29th season of varsity action.

Take a Bow … Christina Kaelin was part of the BIG EAST Conference’s honor roll on Oct. 6 and again on Oct. 13 … Kaelin had 11 kills with only one error for a .500 clip to lead an Irish team that hit .370 in an Oct. 11 contest with WVU … the Irish received 21 kills from Kaelin in the team’s next match versus Pittsburgh (Oct. 12) … that performance put her in a four-way tie for 10th place on Notre Dame’s career list for matches with 20+ kills (6) … she had 20 against Eastern Washington earlier this season … she averaged 4.57 kills/set over the two-match stretch … she also led the Irish in kills and hitting percentage in each of the team’s two matches from Oct. 4-5 … Kaelin fired in 14 kills on a .344 average during her homecoming match against the Cardinals … the Louisville native also added one dig and one block versus the Cardinals … she finished with a match-high 17 kills on a .467 average at Cincinnati with one ace and five digs in the four-set affair … she totaled 18.0 points in the Irish loss … the junior averaged 4.43 kills/set on the weekend with a .403 average.

Sciacca Strikes Again …Sophomore middle blocker Kellie Sciacca was named the league’s top player on Sept. 29 for her performances during Irish wins at USF (Sept. 26) and Georgetown (Sept. 28) … Sciacca had 20 kills in her first BIG EAST match of the season while posting a .643 average against USF … she recorded 16 kills versus the Bulls before recording an error and finished with only two faults on 28 attempts … her hitting percentage in the contest was the fourth highest ever in school history for a four-set match … she followed that performance with nine kills on 15 swings with three errors for a .400 average at Georgetown … Sciacca also added an ace and one solo block against the Hoyas … for the weekend, she averaged 4.14 kills/set with a .588 hitting clip … the Monument, Colo., native was part of the league’s honor roll on Sept. 1 … the BIG EAST named Sciacca its Freshman of the Week three times in 2007 – the most among league rookies – as she was a part of the league’s honor roll on four occasions … Sciacca was also the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s (AVCA) Northeast Region Freshman of the Year last season.

Going Solo … Senior middle blocker Justine Stremick made her presence felt after seeing action for the first time this season during her debut at the Diet Coke Classic (Sept. 12-14) … Stremick, who missed the first six matches of the season while nursing an injured knee, had eight blocks against No. 16 Cal Poly (Sept. 12) and seven kills versus No. 4 California (Sept. 13).

The Bigger They Are …It had been a while since Notre Dame faced three consecutive ranked opponents before doing so at the Diet Coke Classic (No. 16 Cal Poly, No. 4 California, No. 11 Minnesota) … the last time Notre Dame challenged ranked foes in consecutive matches was in 2001 when they went to battle with No. 7 UCLA, No. 1 Nebraska and No. 15 Pepperdine at the U.S. Bank / Arby’s Tournament in Lincoln, Neb. … Notre Dame dropped each of the three matches on both occasions.

Pocket Aces … Notre Dame served a season-high eight aces against Washington State (Sept. 6), but raised the bar one week later against No. 4 California (Sept. 13) with 10 aces … Serinity Phillips, Jamel Nicholas, Tara Enzweiler and Beth Wildermuth each had two for the Fighting Irish against Washington State … Wildermuth added a career-high four aces against California.

On Top of the Summit … In 29 seasons of varsity volleyball, Notre Dame earned just its first win over a Summit League opponent with a 3-0 sweep of IPFW (Aug. 29) … the league changed its name from the Mid-Continent Conference to Summit in June 2007 … before the season-opening win over the Mastodons the Irish were 26-8 all-time against the conference and 14-3 under head coach Debbie Brown.

It’s Good To Be Home … Head coach Debbie Brown earned her 200th home victory at Notre Dame with a 3-1 win against Nevada (Aug. 30) … the win moved Brown to 200-38 (.843) within the walls of the Joyce Center … last season she picked up her 400th overall win as the Irish skipper.

Give Silva the Shovel …Freshman libero Frenchy Silva averaged 4.27 digs/set in four matches during the Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 29-31) … that clip ranked fourth in the BIG EAST Conference and the best among league rookies … Silva scooped 21 shots against Valparaiso (Aug. 31), the first 20-dig effort by an Irish player since Adrianna Stasiuk posted an identical total at Connecticut (Oct. 27) in 2007.

Brown Honored By Former Team …Head coach Debbie Brown was honored on Sept. 4 during the University of Southern California’s match versus Oklahoma as part of the program’s All-Time Great Night … Brown, a former Trojan standout, was joined during the ceremony with longtime friend and teammate Sue Woodstra … permanent banners with Woodstra and Brown’s name and numbers are now displayed in the Galen Center … after graduating from El Segundo High School (Calif.), Brown captained the University of Southern California to a 72-1 two-year record and national titles in both 1976 and 1977, including a 38-0 run in 1977 that, until 1998, was the only unbeaten season in Division I women’s volleyball history … her 1977 squad is still considered one of the all-time greatest at any level of volleyball … Brown (then Debbie Landreth) twice was named a collegiate All-American and received the Mikasa Award as the “nation’s best all-around player” in 1976 and 1977 … the 5-8 outside hitter left USC prior to her junior year, accepting an invitation to train full-time with the U.S. national team … she co-captained the team to a fifth-place finish at the 1978 World Championships … a year later, she and her teammates – including Debbie Green, Flo Hyman, Rita Crockett and Woodstra – qualified for the Olympics in Moscow and were considered serious medal contenders before the United States elected to boycott the games.

Early Experience … Freshmen Kristen Dealy and Frenchy Silva each cracked the starting lineups in their collegiate debut versus IPFW (Aug. 31) … last season, first-year players Kellie Sciacca and Angela Puente started in the season opener … setter Beth Wildermuth also saw significant action on the court in the season’s first weekend of play … Silva and Dealy earned starting nods in each of Notre Dame’s three matches … Dealy led the Irish with 31 kills (2.82 kills/set) while Silva averaged 4.27 digs/set … not to be outdone, Wildermuth split time with starting setter Jamel Nicholas and posted 3.73 assists/set.

Enzweiler Energizes Irish …Junior middle blocker Tara Enzweiler set career-high marks in virtually every statistical category during the Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 29-31) … Enzweiler logged a pair of starts and matched or exceeded single-match personal bests in kills (5), attempts (13), aces (2), solo blocks (1), block assists (7), total blocks (8) and points (8.5).

Kaelin Christens Court … Junior outside hitter Christina Kaelin returned from an injury that sidelined her for the duration of the 2007 campaign with three starts at the Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 29-31) … her weekend was highlighted by 13 kills for a .480 clip versus Valparaiso (Aug. 31) … Kaelin was one of Notre Dame’s top offensive threats throughout her freshman campaign.

Shamrock Stars … Junior outside hitter Serinity Phillips and sophomore middle blocker Kellie Sciacca were each named to the Shamrock Invitational All-Tournament squad … Phillips had 13 kills and 12 digs in the season opener against IPFW (Aug. 29) and scooped at least 10 digs in each of the invite’s three matches … Sciacca secured a double-double – the second of her career – against Nevada (Aug. 30) with a 14-kill, 10-block effort.

BIG EAST Honors Sciacca …Sophomore middle blocker Kellie Sciacca was selected to the league’s weekly honor roll (Sept. 1) … Sciacca totaled 30 kills (2.73/set) on a .359 average through three matches at the Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 29-31) … she led Notre Dame with 20 blocks over the course of three matches (1.82 blocks/set) and also registered one ace … Sciacca had 14 kills on a .464 average against Nevada (Aug. 30) along with 10 blocks for a double-double … she had seven blocks against Valparaiso (Aug. 31) … she finished with nine kills on 18 swings versus IPFW (Aug. 29).