Nov. 15, 2001
The University of Notre Dame volleyball team has announced the signings of five incoming freshmen for the 2002 season. Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn.), Kelly Burrell (Pheonix, Ariz.), Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas), Meg Henican (New Orleans, La.) and Lauren Kelbley (Bascum, Ohio) have all signed letters of intent to enroll at Notre Dame in the fall of 2002 and will make up the volleyball class of 2006.
“We are very excited about this class,” head coach Debbie Brown says.
“Going into recruiting this year we thought we were going to give four scholarships. When the opportunity to sign this great class with five talented players presented itself, it was an opportunity we could not pass up.
“All five players will complement each other very well and will add valuable depth to our team next year. They are really going to help the competitive level of the team. I think this is one of the top five classes in the nation.”
Lauren Brewster played for Brentwood High School in Brentwood, Tenn., and helped the team earn four state titles during her prep career. A 6-3 middle blocker, she was named most valuable player of the state tournament in 2000 and 2001, leading Brentwood to an undefeated record during her junior and senior seasons. Brewster also earned the 2000 Tennessee mid-state player of the year award and was named the Gatorade Player of the Year from Tennesee in 2001.
“Lauren catches your eye because of her ability to play high above the net,” Brown says.
“She is a strong front row player and comes from a very successful program. She will combine with the other three middle blockers in the class to help us become an even stronger team at the net.”
Kelly Burrell is a 5-11 setter from Xavier College Prep in Pheonix, Ariz., and, like many of her classmates, has earned multiple state titles while playing in a successful high school program. A first-team all-regional selection in 2000 and 2001, Burrell will bring a strong court presence to the Irish roster next season.
“We are excited about Kelly’s court personality and the setting skill she will bring to the team,” Brown says.
“She is a natural leader on the court, which is an important part of being a setter. Kelly has very quick feet and uses her athleticism to keep the defense off balance. She also understands the game very well and knows how to run an offense.”
Carolyn Cooper continues the tradition of outstanding middle blockers the Irish have landed from Texas. Current senior and all-star nominee Malinda Goralski and 2000 graduate Jo Jameyson were both from the same area of Texas as Cooper.
A 6-3 middle blocker, Cooper played for Lutheran South Academy in Houston, Texas, and was named the team MVP three times (1999-2001) while earning first-team all-state honors during those three seasons as well.
“Carolyn, much like the other two middle blockers in the class, has a very strong net game and can jump well. This season, we have been training with just three middle blockers in practice. Carolyn and her classmates will add to the entire team’s net game next year because they can block, hit and play high above the net.”
In an unusual twist, 5-11 outside hitter Meg Henican had the opportunity to earn five state championships during her prep career. Henican played at Newman High School in New Orleans, La., a kindergarten through 12th grade school, and started on the varsity team for five seasons – leading Newman to five consecutive state titles. She was a four-time AAU All-American and finished her high school career as the Gatorade Player of the Year from Louisiana in 2001.
“Meg is a good all-around player,” Brown says.
“She is an excellent passer and is very strong on defense. She also is a very hard hitter and she attacks with power. She played on a really strong high school team and will bring a wealth of experience to the team.”
Lauren Kelbley is a 6-1 middle blocker from Bascaum, Ohio, and played at Hopewell-Loudon High School. She helped the team to the four-straight Ohio Division IV state titles during her career while earning all-conference, all-district and all-state honors at the end of each season.
“Lauren has a very fast arm with the ability to terminate at the net and has been part of a winning tradition during her career,” Brown says.
“Last year she had the opportunity to play in the back row and showed that she has solid all-around skills.”
The Class of 2006 will combine with 11 possible returning monogram winners next season to give the Irish a deep, talented and young team. Of the 15 players that will make up the 2002 roster, just two will be seniors while the sophomore and freshman class will make up over 50-percent of the group.