Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Volleyball Continues Pursuit Of BIG EAST Regular-Season Title At Syracuse Saturday

Nov. 7, 2002

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Notre Dame (20-5, 10-0) vs. Syracuse (19-9, 5-5) Saturday, Nov. 9, 1 p.m., Syracuse Women’s Building

Notre Dame begins key conference stretch at Syracuse on Saturday:

The University of Notre Dame volleyball team (20-5, 10-0) will face a stern test over the next two weeks as the BIG EAST Conference regular-season schedule winds down. The Irish, the only undefeated team in the conference, will face Syracuse (19-9, 5-5) on Saturday, followed by a challenging three-day road trip to Miami and Virginia Tech on Nov. 15, 16 and 17.

Miami and Virginia Tech are sitting in second place of the league standings with 7-2 BIG EAST records. The Orangewomen could still sneak into the top four (which move on to the BIG EAST Championship), as Syracuse currently has a 5-5 record and are in fifth place behind Connecticut (6-3).

The BIG EAST Conference has been ruled by its most recent entries in the last few years. Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and Miami (in its first year) are the three newest teams to compete in the conference for volleyball.

Notre Dame drops down a notch to second in the nation in block average:

The Irish did not dominate at the net in their usual 2002 fashion last week. Notre Dame’s block average dropped from 3.79 to 3.69, and the Irish fell out of the top spot in the NCAA statistical ranking for the first time since Sept. 29. Notre Dame’s 3.69 block average (as of Nov. 3) trails Stanford’s 3.73 mark (the Cardinal also knocked off #1 ranked USC last week – moving two-time Irish opponent Hawai’i into the top spot in the USA Today/AVCA Top 25).

The Irish moved into first in the country in block average with 22 team blocks against St. John’s on Sept. 29.

Conference winning streak will be put on the line again against Syracuse, while the home court streak will carry on to 2003:

The Irish are looking to extend their conference win streaks this weekend. Notre Dame has not lost a regular-season BIG EAST Conference match since a loss at West Virginia on Nov. 15, 1998, a streak of 42 consecutive regular-season wins.

During the regular-season streak, the Irish have lost just one match to a BIG EAST foe, in the 1999 conference championship to Georgetown. Dating back to that setback vs. the Hoyas, Notre Dame has won 35 straight matches against league opponents (including BIG EAST Championship play).

Notre Dame’s impressive home court win streaks will carry over to the 2003 season, as the Irish have no more matches scheduled at home this season.

Since Notre Dame began BIG EAST play in 1995, they have not lost to a BIG EAST team on the Joyce Center floor. That winning streak stands at 49.

Notre Dame also has won 35 consecutive matches at home.

Irish win 20 matches for fourth season in a row:

Notre Dame’s 3-0 victory over Boston College on Sunday, Nov. 3, provided the Irish with their 20th victory of the season, marking the 2002 season as the fourth-straight in which head coach Debbie Brown’s team has posted at least 20 victories. In fact, Brown’s teams have reached 20 wins in all but one season since she took over the program in 1991.

Notre Dame won 20 matches in 1999, 20 in 2000 and 22 in 2001. The record for wins in the season in 33, reached in 1994 and 1986.

Irish finish unbeaten at home for the second straight season and just the fourth time in school history:

Two BIG EAST Conference victories over Providence and Boston College last weekend provided Notre Dame with its second consecutive undefeated season on the Joyce Center floor. The Irish will carry a 35-match win streak at home into the 2003 season.

The Irish posted a 12-0 record at home a year ago and improved that mark by one this season, finishing 13-0 in front of the Joyce Center crowd.

Notre Dame finished 17-0 at home in 1994 and 5-0 in 1982.

Brewster fifth in the nation in block average:

An exceptional week of defense at the net, which enabled Lauren Brewster to earn the BIG EAST rookie of the week award on Oct. 28, also moved the middle blocker up the national rankings in block average. Brewster was 12th as of Oct. 21, but her output during four matches from Oct. 21-26 moved her average to 1.64, was is fourth in the country as of Oct. 28.

The rookie from Brentwood, Tenn., has settled in at fifth in the nation in the latest statistical release from the NCAA, with a 1.63 average. She is behind Arkansas-Little Rock’s Ivana Kuzmic, Nebraska’s Amber Holmquist, Montana State’s Ana Schanze and St. Mary’s (Calif.) Stacey O’Connor.

Team gets back in the top 30 in the country for team hitting:

A .367 team hitting mark vs. Boston College and a .356 number vs. Providence pushed the Notre Dame team hitting mark to .261, which is ranked 28th in the nation as of Nov. 3.

Team setter Kristen Kinder has 851 assists this season (10.77) and the Irish have posted just 458 attack errors on 3,331 swings.

Notre Dame vs. Syracuse series notes:

The Irish and the Orangewomen will be meeting for the 11th time … Notre Dame leads the all-time series 9-1 … Syracuse defeated the Irish in the first-ever meeting between the two teams in 1981 … Notre Dame and Syracuse met twice before the Irish entered the BIG EAST Conference … in the 2001 meeting (a 3-1 victory for the Irish), Kristen Kinder had 36 assists, 11 digs and three kills … Carol Munger scored six kills, nine digs and three blocks … Notre Dame is 3-1 in the Women’s Building.

Notre Dame ranked first in the Northeast Region:

While the Irish have not yet broken back into the USA Today/AVCA top 25 rankings after placing 25th in the preseason poll this year, Notre Dame is ranked first in the Northeast Region, according to the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball committee.

The rankings were released on Oct. 22, then updated on Nov. 6, and Notre Dame led the way with a 20-5 overall record and 10-0 mark in the BIG EAST. The regional rankings are a key consideration when the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball tournament pairings are announced. The winner of the BIG EAST Conference Championship will receive and automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Northeast Regional Ranking:

Nov. 6, 2002 (records are as of Nov. 3)

Northeast Region

1. Notre Dame (20-5)

2. Temple (19-5)

3. American (20-6)

4. Virginia Tech (17-9)

5. Dayton (19-5)

6. Miami, Fla. (21-3)

7. Harvard (13-8)

8. Penn (17-4)

9. George Washington (15-10)

10. New Hampshire (18-10)

The Irish have yet to face #6 Miami and #4 Virginia Tech.

Notre Dame in the BIG EAST statistical rankings:

As a team, the Irish are second in league hitting percentage (.267), first in blocks (3.69 – a whole 1.02 ahead of Pittsburgh in second place), third in assists (13.82) and third in kills (15.49).

As individuals, Lauren Brewster, who is ranked fourth in the country in blocks per game, leads the conference with a 1.63 average. Lauren Kelbley is ninth in the conference with a 1.15 average. Jessica Kinder is second in the conference in aces (0.51).

Irish set a new standard for consecutive home victories in memorable fashion:

Notre Dame’s victory over #10 Pepperdine extended the Irish home court winning streak to 28 matches. Notre Dame has moved that total to 35 with seven victories at home since their upset of the Waves. The 35-match streak is the longest in school history, eclipsing the previous mark of 27 matches from Sept. 9, 1993 through Sept. 2, 1995.

The Irish have not lost in the Joyce Center since a three-game setback to #7 Colorado State on Sept. 23, 2000.

During the Irish winning streak at home, they have dropped just 11 games while winning 25 matches 3-0. Notre Dame also has won four tournament titles during the streak, including the 2000 BIG EAST Championship, the 2001 and 2002 Shamrock Invitational titles and the 2002 Golden Dome Invitational.

Irish home attendance hits an all-time high in 2002:

Bolstered by two matches played before Notre Dame football pep rallies and an overall increase in attendance, the Irish have broken into the top 30 in the country in attendance average this season. With a school-record 3,251 in attendance on Friday, Nov. 1, as the Irish took on Providence, Notre Dame pushed its average to 1,064 and moved into 27th in the country in attendance. The 3,251 crowd was the 48th-best in the country this season (as of Nov. 4).

Irish set school records during classic victory over #10 Pepperdine:

The victory over the visiting Waves on Saturday, Sept. 14, was more than just Notre Dame’s first victory over a top-10 opponent since 1995. The win stretched the Irish home court winning streak to a record 28 matches and provided Notre Dame its second home tournament title of the season (combined with the Shamrock Invitational).

The match against the Waves also set two team records. The 30-32, 30-24, 29-31, 30-25 and 15-10 game scores matched the team record for points in a match (134) from Notre Dame’s five-game victory over Illinois State in 2001. The Notre Dame – Pepperdine match also is the longest in the Joyce Center under the new rally scoring rules, as the match ended two hours, 28 minutes after it began (surpassing the Illinois State match by six minutes).

Another team record was set earlier in the tournament, when Notre Dame defeated Loyola College 30-16, 30-16 and 30-14 to win by 44 points, the largest winning margin for the Irish under the new rally scoring method.

Notre Dame utilizing its front row strength to dominate at the net:

The 2001 Irish team posted a 3.42 blocks-per-game average, second to just the ’85 (3.51) and ’88 (3.57) teams.

Entering this weekend’s match, the Irish are averaging 3.69 blocks per game this season.

Front row specialists Malinda Goralski, Kristy Kreher and Marcie Bomhack graduated last season, but a talented freshman class, combined with some experienced front line players, have shown the ability to improve the Irish defense at the net. In the first 25 matches of the 2002 season, Notre Dame dominated at the net to collect 321 team blocks and have failed to post more than 10 team blocks in just five matches this season (vs. Colorado, at St. John’s, at Hawai’i-Oct. 22, at Illinois State, vs. Providence).

Try to hit through this front line:

Notre Dame’s blocking prowess has been well documented this season, but the Irish have some rotations that defy opposing teams to get a shot through. At certain times during a match, Katie Neff (6-5), Lauren Brewster (6-3) and Lauren Kelbley (6-2) are patrolling the net for the Irish defense. Add in 6-1 all-BIG EAST high jumper Emily Loomis and the Irish defensive wall becomes even more impressive.

Neff (82 blocks), Brewster (127), Kelbley (91) and Loomis (84) play a large role in Notre Dame’s 3.69 blocks-per-game average that was ranked second in the nation as of Nov. 3 – and has been ranked first in the nation for several weeks this season.

Brewster enjoying one of the top rookie seasons in Notre Dame volleyball history:

Freshman Lauren Brewster has been stacking up the blocks since she first stepped on the court against Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Aug. 30.

The rookie currently has 127 blocks (ranked fifth in the country as of Nov. 3), which puts her among the top five freshman at Notre Dame all-time in terms of blocks during their first season for the Irish:

Notre Dame freshman year block totals:

1. Mary Leffers, 160

2. Mary Kay Waller, 144

3. Lauren Brewster, 127

4. Jaimie Lee, 110

5. Jessica Fiebelkorn, 107

Brewster still has three regular-season matches left this season (and more possible matches during the post season).

Factor in any five-game matches and possible post season play for Notre dame, and Brewster could make a run at Leffer’s rookie season record.

Debbie Brown coaching is in her 12th year as the mentor of the Irish volleyball program:

Debbie Brown has guided the program throughout the 90’s and into the new century, developing the Irish into a volleyball power in the BIG EAST and one of the best programs in the nation. Brown is 296-99 (.749) and has earned numerous coach-of-the-year accolades throughout her 11 full years with the Irish, including the 2000 and 2001 BIG EAST Coach of the Year awards.

Notre Dame picked by league coaches to win its third-straight and seventh-overall BIG EAST Championship:

Notre Dame has been picked to win its third-straight league title this year, as voted by the conference head coaches. The Irish received 10 of 13 first-place votes, finishing ahead of Pittsburgh and Rutgers.

Two Irish players landed on the preseason all-BIG EAST squad. Junior setter Kristen Kinder, the 2001 BIG EAST Setter of the Year, and junior middle blocker Kim Fletcher made Notre Dame the only conference team represented by two players on the preseason all-BIG EAST team.

Pittsburgh’s Wendy Hatlestad was named the Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year.

The top four teams in the conference (which includes 13 teams with the addition of Miami) will qualify for the 2002 BIG EAST Championship in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Nov. 23-24.

Notre Dame has won the last two conference championships, including last season’s showcase in Pittsburgh (defeating Georgetown in five games).

The Irish are currently 8-0 in the BIG EAST Conference this season.


The NCAA Women’s Volleyball Rules Committee has introduced another rule change that will have a large effect on how the game is played. After the introduction rally scoring in 2001, the 2002 season marks the beginning of the libero era in women’s collegiate volleyball.

A libero (designated back row player) will be allowed in the lineup for the 2002 season. A defensive specialist that does not count toward the team’s substitutions, the libero can freely replace any player that has rotated to the back row. Unlike traditional substitutions that are administered by the referee, the libero can enter the match any time there is a dead ball.

Since the libero is a defensive player, a certain restrictions have been established on the libero’s offensive capabilities. A libero only plays in the back row and cannot serve or attempt to block a shot. The libero cannot attack the ball above the net, nor can the libero set the ball with an overhead finger pass in the attack zone.

Once the libero comes out of the match, the player must wait at least one point before reentering.

Here is a quick look at Notre Dame’s last 35 match victories at home:

2000 –

Sept. 29, Villanova, W, 3-0

Oct. 1, Georgetown, W, 3-0

Oct. 20, Rutgers, W, 3-0

Oct. 22, Seton Hall, W, 3-0

Nov. 3, Boston College, W, 3-0

Nov. 4, North Carolina, W, 3-0

Nov. 7, Saint Louis, W, 3-0

Nov. 18, Connecticut, W, 3-0*

Nov. 19, Rutgers, W, 3-0*

2001 –

Aug. 31, SW Texas St., W, 3-0

Sept. 1, Florida Atlantic, W, 3-0

Sept. 1, Idaho, W, 3-1

Sept. 18, Valparaiso, W, 3-0

Sept. 22, Syracuse, W, 3-0

Sept. 28, Virginia Tech, W, 3-0

Sept. 30, Georgetown, W, 3-1

Oct. 12, Villanova, W, 3-0

Oct. 14, Rutgers, W, 3-0

Nov. 9, St. John’s, W, 3-0

Nov. 11, Seton Hall, W, 3-0

Nov. 14, Illinois State, W, 3-2

2002 –

Aug. 30, UW-Milwaukee, W, 3-0

Aug. 31, Cincinnati, W, 3-0

Sept. 1, Cal Poly, W, 3-0

Sept. 13, Northwestern, W, 3-0

Sept. 14, Loyola College, W, 3-0

Sept. 14, Pepperdine, W, 3-2

Sept. 21, Michigan, W, 3-1

Sept. 27, Connecticut, W, 3-1

Sept. 29, St. John’s, W, 3-1

Oct. 25, Pittsburgh, W, 3-1

Oct. 27, West Virginia, W, 3-1

Providence, W, 3-0

Boston College, W, 3-0

* – 2000 BIG EAST Championship