Junior Jeni Houser

Volleyball Continues Homestand With Shamrock Invitational

Sept. 12, 2013

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2013 Shamrock Invitational
Purcell Pavilion – Notre Dame, Ind.

Loyola vs. Notre Dame
Friday, Sept. 13 – 7 p.m.

Oakland vs. Notre Dame
Saturday, Sept. 14 – 1 p.m.

Auburn vs. Notre Dame
Saturday, Sept. 14 – 7:30 p.m.

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A tradition since 1996, the Shamrock Invitational returns to the University of Notre Dame campus this weekend as the Irish volleyball team welcomes in Auburn, Loyola-Chicago and Oakland for the two-day tournament at Purcell Pavilion.

The tournament, which has been held for the last 17 campaigns with the exception of 2004, has been very good to the Irish over the years, as they have put together an impressive 37-10 record. Included in the 37 wins are victories over three ranked foes including: a five-set win over No. 15 BYU (2000), a five-set triumph over No. 11 Texas (2005) and a 3-0 sweep of No. 5 Stanford (2009), which stands as the second-highest ranked opponent to fall to the Irish in program history.

This year three talented opponents enter the Joyce Center, led by Southeastern Conference opponent Auburn. The Tigers sit at 7-1 and already boast an impressive 3-1 win over then-No. 10 Nebraska in St. Louis, Mo. Earning SEC Player of the Week honors after the big win was senior outside hitter Katherine Culwell, who leads the team with 107 kills (3.82 per set).

Loyola makes the short trek over from Chicago and brings with it a 5-2 mark after claiming the ECU Invitational last weekend in Greenville, N.C. Freshman outside hitter Morgan Reardon has gotten her college career off to a great start as she is the two-time reigning Missouri Valley Freshman of the Week. Reardon leads the Ramblers with 85 kills (3.15 per set).

Oakland enters the weekend with a 4-4 mark after going 3-1 at the Candlewood Suites Invitational in Syracuse, N.Y., last weekend. Sophomore outside hitter Cassie Pelloni paces the Grizzlies with 108 kills (3.86 per set).

The meetings with Auburn and Oakland will be a first for the Irish, while the matchup with Loyola renews an old North Star and Midwestern Collegiate Conference rivalry that the Irish lead 14-3.

“There is another good field for us this weekend with each team presenting different challenges,” said head coach Debbie Brown. “Auburn certainly grabs our attention with their impressive win over Nebraska. They play great defense, which makes it hard to get a kill against them. We need to be smart and be on our game the whole weekend to have a chance to earn three wins.”

The Irish (2-3) split last weekend at the Golden Dome Invitational, knocking off Bowling Green, 3-1, before losing a heart breaker to then-No. 22 Purdue, 3-2.

Junior middle blocker Jeni Houser turned in a solid all-around weekend to earn a place on the all-tournament team. The Louisville, Ky., native hit .321 matches, while averaging a team-high 2.78 kills per set. She also had team highs in service aces (4) and blocks (10), averaging 1.11 per set. Another standout performer was fellow middle blocker Andie Olsen, who totaled 16 kills and only two errors for a .425 hitting percentage. Elsewhere, junior outside hitter Toni Alugbue had 23 kills and 22 digs and senior right side hitter Sammie Brown had 12 kills and a team-high 27 digs.

“We’ve learned a lot about ourselves from these first two tournaments,” said Brown. We have really been working on our side of the net with taking care of the ball and cutting down on our errors. We need to continue working on making sure we start strong and have intensity all the way through.”

Notre Dame will kick off the weekend with a showdown against Loyola at 7 p.m. Friday before playing Oakland (1 p.m.) and Auburn (7:30 p.m.) Saturday. Attendees to Friday night’s session will receive a free t-shirt for “Free Shirt Friday.”

Fans can purchase tickets upon arrival at Purcell, with prices ranging from $5 for the general public to $3 for youth and seniors. Children under the age of three get in free.

Volleyball fans that can’t make the matches can watch a free online video stream at WatchND.TV for all three of Notre Dame’s matches or follow live stats at UND.com. There will also be updates on Notre Dame’s Facebook page (Facebook.com/NDVolleyball) and on Twitter (@NDVolleyball).

— Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director