Sept. 26, 2000

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Notre Dame volleyball fans and media are encouraged to download the PDF format of the following release as available above. The PDF format contains more information, including biography updates of the 2000 Notre Dame volleyball players.

Time for BIG EAST Competition: After participating in four weekend tournaments in the month of September, the Notre Dame volleyball team (9-4) begins BIG EAST competition Friday, Sept. 29, when Villanova visits the Joyce Center at 7:00 p.m.

The Irish compiled an 7-4 record in tournament competition in Sept., including capturing the Shamrock Invitational (Sept. 1-3) and Lady Seminole Classic (Sept. 15-16) titles.

Scouting the Wildcats: Villanova (6-9) and the Irish are meeting for the eighth time … Notre Dame has won all seven previous meetings … Christi Girton recorded a double-double in the ’99 meeting with 16 kills and 11 blocks … Breen Eddinger leads the Villanova offense in 2000 with 118 kills … the Wildcats are coming off of a four-game win over Bucknell (15-13, 14-16, 15-4, 15-5) on Saturday, Sept. 23.

Scouting the Hoyas: Georgetown and Notre Dame are meeting for the 10th time … the Irish will get a chance at redemption, as the Hoyas only win in the series was a 15-11, 15-10, 15-8 upset in the BIG EAST tournament last season … Georgetown will play Syracuse on Friday, Sept. 29, before making the trip to Notre Dame for Sunday’s match … Kiran Gill leads the Hoyas in hitting this season with 175 kills and a .255 hitting percentage … Freshman setter Jennifer Ward is averaging 12.63 assists per game in 2000 and was named the BIG EAST Rookie of the Week for the second consecutive time on Sept. 25.

Girton Named Co-BIG EAST Player of the Week: Christi Girton was named the Co-BIG EAST Player of the Week for her performance against Loyola Marymount, Wyoming and Colorado State, Sept. 21-23. In three matches last week, Girton tallied 49 kills (5.44 per game), 34 digs (3.77 per game) and a .318 hitting percentage. She notched a career-high 23 kills in Notre Dame’s upset win over #22 Loyola Marymount. In the Irish sweep of Wyoming, she played in only two games recording 10 kills and five digs. She also earned a spot on the Golden Dome Invitational All-Tournament Team with her solid play.

Girton becomes the second Irish player to earn player of the week honors this season. Denise Boylan was given the honor on Sept. 4.

Golden Dome Invitational Recap: #4 Colorado State captured the 2000 Golden Dome Invitational title by virtue of victories over #22 Loyola Marymount on Friday, Sept. 22, and 24th-ranked Notre Dame on Saturday, Sept. 23.

Notre Dame finished second in the tournament after defeating Wyoming on Friday night (15-1, 15-5, 15-8) before falling in three games (7-15, 7-15, 16-14) to Colorado State on Saturday. The Irish also beat Loyola Marymount in four games (15-9, 16-14, 15-17, 16-14) on Thursday night, although the match was not part of the Golden Dome Invitational.

Fourteen Notre Dame players saw action in the Wyoming match as the Irish put together a .400 hitting percentage (43 kills, 11 errors, 80 attempts) to sweep the Cowgirls in three games.

Senior setter Denise Boylan (Lisle, Ill.) helped the Irish hit an eye-popping .647 in the first game of the match. Notre Dame totaled 11 kills on 17 attempts with no errors to take the first game 15-1.

Junior MB Malinda Goralski (Missouri City, Texas) had 10 kills on 12 attempts with no errors (.833 hitting percentage) in the match while senior OH Christi Girton (Muncie, Ind.) added 10 kills and five digs.

The Irish faced Colorado State in the title game on Saturday and lost a tough three game match. The Rams used a combination of hard-hitting and defensive prowess to take the first two games of the match before Notre Dame pushed them to the edge in the final game. The Irish had a 14-10 lead in the third game before CSU fought off five game points, then put together six straight points for the win.

Girton was the primary offensive threat for Notre Dame in the match. Scoring 16 kills with 12 digs, she earned a spot on the all-tournament team along with Goralski (who posted nine kills in the Colorado State match).

Colorado State’s Angela Knopf was named the tournament MVP. CSU’s Summer Jennings and Allison Peckham were name to the all-tournament team along with Sarah McFarland from Loyola Marymount and Melody Friehauf from Wyoming. CSU’s Kathryn Pettit earned the distinction as the top defensive specialist in the tournament.

Notre Dame vs. Loyola Marymount Recap: Notre Dame and #22 Loyola Marymount engaged in a four-game thriller at the Joyce Center Thursday, Sept. 21. After two hours and 40 minutes, the Irish came away with a hard-fought match victory (15-9, 16-14, 15-17, 16-14) over the visiting Lions. The victory is the second the Irish have enjoyed over a ranked opponent in the Joyce Center this season. Notre Dame knocked off #15 BYU in five games Sept. 2.

The Joyce Center crowd witnessed a number of Notre Dame and personal records fall. Irish junior opposite Kristy Kreher (Birmingham, Mich.) set the university record for kills in a four-game match with 32, eclipsing the 31 Jaimie Lee totaled in 1997 versus Wisconsin in the 1997 NCAA tournament.

Denise Boylan, who helped the Irish post a .368 hitting percentage in the final game, set a new Notre Dame record for assists in a four-game match with 84. That total also surpasses Boylan’s career-high of 83 assists versus Illinois State in 1997.

The match began with the Irish earning a 15-9 game-one victory. Senior Jo Jameyson (Alvin, Texas) started her evening off with a kill and three blocks in the opening game. She would tally 11 kills and seven blocks in the match. Jameyson was just one of five Irish players with double-figure kills in the match.

The Irish and Lions fought back-and-forth throughout game two and the rest of the match. Notre Dame built a 10-6 lead on the strength of four kills from Kreher, but LMU came roaring back with eight straight points. Lion OH Sarah McFarland, who hails from nearby Michigan City, Ind., had three of her match-high 45 kills in the point streak.

Loyola had the Irish at game point, but two kills from junior Marcie Bomhack (Waukesha, Wis.) and a block by Jameyson earned a game-two victory for the Irish 16-14.

Game three played out much the same way as its predecessors, but this time LMU built a 13-9 lead, only to see the Irish come back to tie the game at 14-14. Both teams would have an opportunity at game-point, but an ace by LMU’s setter Nicole Oelhman gave the Lions the game three victory 16-14.

The deciding game became a test of wills for both teams. LMU built a 13-8 lead and a fifth game under rally-scoring rules seemed likely, but the Irish dug deep to rally back and earn the match victory. The Notre Dame defense played the biggest part in the rally, scoring three blocks by four different players. Christi Girton and Bomhack also combined for three kills to close out the victory.

Five Irish players ended up tieing or setting personal-bests in the match. Kreher’s 32 kills and 27 digs are both career-highs. It is also the third game of the season Kreher has totaled over 20 kills (23 vs. BYU, 21 vs. Michigan State). Bomhack’s 25 digs, Girton’s 23 kills, and Boylan’s 84 assists were all career marks as well. Junior MB Malinda Goralski tied a career-high with 15 kills.

Head Coach Debbie Brown: Now entering her 10th season as head coach, Debbie Brown has led the Notre Dame volleyball team to victory in nearly 75 percent of its matches, going 237-84 (.738) since she joined the program in 1991. That success came after six years as head coach at Arizona State (1983-88), giving her a 353-167 record over 15 seasons.

Brown has coached teams that have qualified for the NCAA tournament 13 times and have won nine conference championships. The Irish have won four of five regular-season conference titles since they began BIG EAST play in 1995 and also have won four of five BIG EAST tournament titles. An NCAA berth at the end of the 2000 season would give Brown her 14th consecutive post-season coaching opportunity.

Boylan Earns Player of the Week Honors: Senior setter Denise Boylan was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week on Monday, Sept. 4, for her performance during the Shamrock Invitational (Sept. 1-3). She led the team to three victories, including a come-from-behind upset over #15 BYU. Boylan’s statistics over the course of the Shamrock tournament: 136 assists (12.36 apg), 27 digs, 10 blocks, 10 kills and five aces.

Twenty Years in the Making: The Notre Dame volleyball team is celebrating its first 20 years of varsity status this season. One of the university’s first varsity sports for women founded in 1980, the volleyball program is one of the most successful in school history. Of the 593 matches the Irish have played, they have been victorious in 413 of them for an impressive .700 winning percentage.

Preseason Honors: Notre Dame senior setter Denise Boylan was chosen as the BIG EAST preseason player of the year on Aug. 8. Boylan earned first-team all-BIG EAST honors in 1999 after leading the Irish with 1,132 assists and 35 aces. Her career marks of 3,291 assists and 11.84 assist per game average are both second in school history.

Boylan was joined on the preseason all-BIG EAST team by fellow senior Christi Girton. Girton had previously earned second team all-BIG EAST accolades after the 1998 and 1999 seasons. She led the team in kills (333) and digs (201) last season and ranks 10th on the career hitting percentage list with a .254 mark.

1999 Review: Notre Dame earned its eighth consecutive NCAA tournament bid after going 20-9 overall and 11-0 in conference play to capture the BIG EAST regular season title. It was Notre Dame’s fourth regular season title since they began league play in 1995.

Senior middle blocker Mary Leffers earned the 1999 BIG EAST player-of-the-year ward, becoming the third Notre Dame player to be so honored (Jaimie Lee ’96,’97 and Jen Birkner ’95).

Notre Dame returns five starters in 2000 from the ’99 team, including all-BIG EAST first-team selection Denise Boylan and second-team selections Christi Girton and junior Kristy Kreher.

Top Hitters Return: Even after the loss of Mary Leffers, the top career percentage hitter in school history, Notre Dame boasts two of its top all-time ball strikers on its 2000 roster.

Kristy Kreher put together one of the best hitting percentage seasons ever in 1999, recording 272 kills on 592 attempts with only 85 errors (.316 percentage). Kreher has moved up the career charts as well, ranking second in hitting percentage with a .294 mark entering the 2000 season. In 13 matches this season, she has a .310 percentage (172 kills, 59 errors on 364 attempts).

Senior Christi Girton also had an impressive 1999 season with 333 kills and just 111 errors for a .302 mark, which is tied for the 10th-best season mark in Irish history. Girton boasts a .243 percentage in 2000 (150 kills, 62 errors on 362 attempts).

Home Court Advantage To Be Tested: The Irish continued their traditional success at home in 1999 with a 10-2 Joyce Center record. Notre Dame is 165-64 all-time in the Joyce Center and the Debbie Brown era (1991-current) is even better. Since 1991, Notre Dame has won 111 of 131 home matches for a stellar .847 winning percentage.

These numbers are being challenged in 2000 as the Irish have played #1 Nebraska, #4 Colorado State, #7 UCLA, #15 BYU #17 Michigan State and #22 Loyola Marymount in the first two weeks of the 2000 season. Notre Dame also will play host the 2000 BIG EAST volleyball championship Nov. 18-19.

A Highly-Rated Group of Freshmen: The class of 2004 that features Kim Fletcher, Jessica Kinder (Fresno, Calif.), Kristen Kinder (Fresno, Calif.), Katie Neff (St. Louis, Mo.) and Christa Moen (San Antonio, Texas) was ranked the ninth-best recruiting class in the nation by Volleyball Magazine. Fletcher and Kristen Kinder were members of Volleyball Magazine’s “Fab 50” list of the top senior high school volleyball players in the country.

Freshmen Contribute Early in the Season: The 2000 freshmen class has made some significant contributions in the first seven matches of the year. OH Jessica Kinder and MB Kim Fletcher have been in and out of the rotation for the Irish in the first three weeks of the season. Fletcher has played in 27 of the 45 games this season, scoring 39 kills, 16 digs and 16 blocks. Jessica Kinder has come off the bench with an effective jump-serve to score 10 aces and also has 16 kills and 37 digs.

MB Katie Neff and S Kristen Kinder were in the starting line up of the third game versus Valparaiso. Kristen Kinder set the Irish to a .409 hitting percentage in the decisive game and added three kills. Neff had two kills and a block in the game. Kristen Kinder also saw action in the Florida A&M match, playing two games and totalling four kills, 15 assists, three aces and nine digs.

Freshman DS Christa Moen has seen action in 16 games this season, tallying 18 digs.

A Record Number of Home Matches?: The Irish have 17 home matches scheduled in 2000. If Notre Dame qualifies for the BIG EAST tournament (the top four teams in the conference will make up the tournament field) it will have an opportunity to play the most home matches in the program’s history. Notre Dame played 18 home matches in 1992 and 1996.

Freshmen Connections: Four of the five Notre Dame freshmen enjoy two different bonds. Jessica and Kristen Kinder will be the first pair of twins to take the court for the Irish. Classmates Katie Neff and Kim Fletcher are both from the St. Louis, Mo., area and played on the same club team, the St. Louis Elite.

Neff and Fletcher will get a chance to play hometown St. Louis University when the Billikens visit the Joyce Center Nov. 7. The Kinders, who call Fresno, Calif., home, will get to return to the west coast when the Irish travel to USC Nov. 24.

California Dreaming: When the Irish travel to Los Angeles, Calif., for their final regular season match up versus USC, a number of players will get a chance to play in their home state. The Golden State is home to four players on the 2000 roster: Senior Adrienne Shimmel (Mission Viejo), sophomore Janie Alderete (Santa Clara) and freshmen Jessica and Kristen Kinder (Fresno).

Texas Representation: Texas also boasts four players on the 2000 Irish roster. Seniors Jo Jameyson (Alvin) and Michelle Graham (Austin), junior Malinda Goralski (Missouri City) and freshman Christa Moen (San Antonio) will compete with California for state bragging rights in the Irish locker room. Assistant coach Lindsay Rosenthal (Austin) also hails from the Lone Star State.

Shimmel Off the Bench: Senior OH Adrienne Shimmel has provided the Irish quite a boost off the bench this season. She set career-highs in kills (six), attack attempts (16) and blocks (three) in the Irish victory over Samford.

Shimmel’s 16 kills on the season has her poised to eclipse her career total of 17 entering the 2000 campaign.

Toughest Schedule? Notre Dame has faced one of the toughest schedules in the nation this year. According to the AVCA/USA Today Sept. 25, rankings, the Irish have faced three of the top five teams in the nation (#1 Nebraska, #3 Colorado State and #5 UCLA) in the month of September. The Irish will also meet current-#4 USC on Nov. 24, in Los Angeles.

Eight teams in the top 25 appear on the Notre Dame schedule this season. The Irish have knocked off #15 BYU (now ranked 14th) and #22 Loyola Marymount (now 23rd).