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Volleyball Focuses On Clash With #16 Northern Iowa On Tuesday

Oct. 15, 2001

Complete Release in PDF Format, including updated statistics, latest Top 25 poll and other in-depth analysis.
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Notre Dame Volleyball Release

Reynolds Ford Volleyball Classic

Bettendorf High School, Bettendorf, Iowa

#19 Notre Dame at #16 Northern Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 7 p.m.

Notre Dame vs. Villanova series history:

Notre Dame and Northern Iowa will be meeting for the first time … NIU won the Missouri Valley conference title last season with a perfect 18-0 record in league competition … Northern Iowa is one of two Missouri Valley Conference opponents the Irish will face this season (Illinois State) … the Irish and Panthers will be playing at Bettendorf High School in Bettendorf, Iowa.

A look at the Panthers:

Northern Iowa is 17-0 this season, 7-0 in the MVC and ranked #16 in the latest USA Today/AVCA Top 25 poll … the Panthers are one of just three unbeaten teams in the nation (Nebraska, Colorado State) … NIU boasts three hitters who average better than 3.50 kills per game: Kim Kester (3.92), Molly O’Brien (3.82) and Kim McCaffery (3.70) … the Panthers are hitting a solid .279 as a team this season … Jill Arganbright is the Norther Iowa setter, averaging 12.24 assists per game with 21 aces … led by O’Brien with 106 blocks, the Panthers are averaging 2.74 blocks per game.

Kristy Kreher named Co-BIG EAST Player of the Week:

Due to her all-around play while leading Notre Dame through two more key BIG EAST Conference victories last week, Kristy Kreher was named the co-conference player of the week, along with Connecticut’s Melissa Mooley on Monday, Oct. 15. It is the second weekly award the Irish opposite has earned this season.

Kreher led the Irish in digs (12) in a 3-0 victory over Villanova and recorded a match-high 17 kills in a 3-0 win over Rutgers. For the week, she averaged 4.00 kills, 3.17 digs, 1.33 blocks and 0.83 assists while hitting .378 and chipping in three aces.

Matches cancelled:

The matches previously scheduled against Michigan, Indiana State, Tulane and Purdue, originally postponed due to the terrorist attack on the United States, will not be replayed this season.

Irish move up to highest spot in the national poll this season:

After posting two impressive victories over BIG EAST opponents Villanova and Rutgers (both in three games last week), Notre Dame has moved up to 19th in the USA Today/AVCA Top 25. It is the highest the Irish have been ranked this season after being ranked 20th on Sept. 3.

Kreher swinging well on the right side:

Notre Dame senior opposite Kristy Kreher was named the Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year before the 2001 season began. Unfortunately, right about the time that the award was announced, Kreher was just beginning her comeback from a severe high ankle sprain suffered during Notre Dame’s trip to Europe over the summer.

The injury kept Kreher out of the U.S. Junior National Team camp late in the summer and affected her play early in the 2001 season.

It would seem, though, that she has fully recovered from the injury. Named BIG EAST Player of the Week on Oct. 1 and Oct. 15, Kreher has returned to the form as the most powerful and accurate hitter on the roster.

After scoring just one kill in a home match against Valparaiso, the senior has scored more than seven kills in eight straight matches – all Irish victories. She hit for 20 at Connecticut to earn her her eighth career match with 20-or more kills (which puts her fifth on the all-time list) and is now sixth on the all-time list for double-digit kill matches (61).

Entering the season as the top-ranked percentage hitter in Notre Dame history, Kreher has raised her hitting percentage to .304 on the season by virtue of five matches since Sept. 22 where she posted a hitting percentage over .420.

Tradition of win streaks:

Notre Dame’s current nine-match win streak is impressive, but is one of just many long win streaks the Irish have acheived in the history of the program. The school volleyball winning streak record was set in 1986, when the Irish won 17-straight matches from Oct. 24 – Nov. 21. The streak was ended with a loss to Purdue.

Since the Debbie Brown era began in 1991, the Irish have compiled 14 winning streaks of nine matches or more. The 1994 team posted three such streaks, including a Brown-era best 12 straight from Oct. 26 – Nov. 20.

The current nine-game streak is the best since last season’s 11-game surge, which ended with a loss at #3 USC in five games on Nov. 20.

Notre Dame in BIG EAST volleyball competition:

Since the Irish joined the BIG EAST Conference in 1995, they have posted an exceptional 71-2 (.973) regular-season conference mark. Notre Dame has also won 40 consecutive conference regular-season matches. The two conference losses the Irish suffered were to Connecticut and West Virginia (both on the road) in 1998.

The Irish are 41-0 at home in regular-season BIG EAST matches.

Include the BIG EAST Championship matches and Notre Dame has posted a 76-3 record against conference teams since 1995.

Goralski leads BIG EAST:

Senior middle blocker Malinda Goralski ranks at the top of two statistical categories in the conference rankings (as of Oct. 15). The Missouri City, Texas, native leads all league players in blocks per game with 1.58 (79 total). She also is ranked second in hitting percentage (.387) and plays a major role in Notre Dame’s top team ranking in blocks per game (3.35).

In the latest NCAA statistical rankings (Oct. 7), Goralski was ranked 12th in blocks per game (1.64) and 19th in hitting percentage (.401).

Fletcher emerges in the middle of the Irish offense: Sophomore middle blocker Kim Fletcher, who earned BIG EAST All-Rookie Team honors in 2000, is third on the team in kills (141), fourth in digs (75) and second in blocks (60). Her quickness and ability to reach the entire court caught the eye of competing coaches in the 2001 Shamrock Invitational, who played a hand in voting her the Most Outstanding Player of the two-day tournament.

Fletcher set career marks this season for kills (14) and digs (10) while posting her first career double-double against Idaho in the Shamrock Invitational championship match. The sophomore has since matched her career-high kill mark three times and is on a streak of four matches hitting over .333.

She currently ranks third in the BIG EAST in hitting percentage (.348).

The second-year middle has stepped up her blocking lately, stopping a career-best nine shots at the net against Georgetown and seven at Toledo. She is currently averaging 1.22 blocks per game.

Alderete excels in the back row:

Irish defensive specialist Janie Alderete, who usually subs in for starting middle blocker Malinda Goralski in the back row, is becoming one of the top performers on the Irish roster. A junior from Santa Clara, Calif., Alderete has recorded more than four digs in 13 out of 15 matches this season, including six double-digit dig matches.

She was all over the court against #15 Pepperdine on Sept. 9, digging a career-high 19 balls. She has continued that form lately as well, recording 13 digs vs. Valparaiso, nine against Georgetown, 12 at Toledo and 13 vs. Rutgers on Sunday.

Alderete currently leads the team in digs per game with a 2.84 average (142 total).

Not just a defensive threat, Alderete is second on the team with 15 aces this season and recorded a career-high four against Virginia Tech on Sept. 28.

Kristen Kinder takes advantage of starting opportunity:

Heading into the 2001 season, the starting setter was clearly one of the more pivotal positions on the team. After the graduation of four-year starter Denise Boylan, the reigns of the Irish offense were handed to sophomore Kristen Kinder.

The second-year player from Fresno, Calif., has responded. Leading the team to a .270 hitting percentage 15 matches into the season, Kinder has turned a possible team weakness into a team strength.

Shrugging off a lack of playing time in 2000, Kinder has helped the Irish lead the conference in hitting and is a presence across the boxscore after every match. She is first on the team in aces with 16, third in digs with 117 and has collected 27 blocks (including seven solo). Her assist average is second in the conference at 12.22 (as of Oct. 15) and she also has shown the ability to provide a kill when needed – knocking down 47 shots this season (0.91 per game).

Jessica Kinder provides a spark off the bench:

The most powerful hitter on the team, Jessica Kinder has recently played a major role in the Irish offensive success.

Often subbing into the game in crucial situations to serve, the sophomore outside hitter utilizes a powerful jump serve to keep the opposing team’s reception off-balance and upset the entire offensive flow.

She was at her best against Villanova, helping the Irish score nine consecutive points on her serve. She would end up posting the best numbers in a match of her young career, scoring a personal-best five aces, also while posting five kills on five swings and five digs.

Irish forced to adjust from the comforts of home to life on the road:

Notre Dame played 19 matches in the friendly confines of the Joyce Center last season. The Irish had 17 regular-season home matches scheduled and won both matches at the 2000 BIG EAST Volleyball Championship, which was held on campus.

The 2001 schedule calls for at least 13 road matches, a number that could increase if the Irish qualify for the BIG EAST Championship. A key stretch of the Irish schedule begins with Tuesday’s match as Notre Dame will play six consecutive road matches from Oct. 16 through Nov. 4.

Notre Dame broke through for its first road victory of the season at Toledo on Tuesday, Oct. 2. The Irish are now 3-3 on the road, with all three losses to ranked teams (#1 Nebraska, #7 UCLA, #15 Pepperdine).

Freshman ready to contribute:

Even as the Irish welcome back 10 monogram winners to the 2001 roster, three talented freshman have joined the team and have already seen playing time early in the season. Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind.) has started every match this season and posted a 10-6 jump-reach in a preseason test. Loomis tied for the team lead in kills in the Shamrock Invitational championship match vs. Idaho with 14. She is currently fourth on the team in kills (99, 2.15 per game).

OH Leah Nedderman (Grapevine, Texas) and MB Kelly Corbett (Mountain View, Calif.) have both impressed the Irish coaching staff in the preseason and are poised to see significant playing time off the bench. Both Corbett and Nedderman hit their first career kills against Valparaiso.

Strong schedule:

Irish head coach Debbie Brown, who led the team to two key victories over high ranked opponents in 2000 (3-2 come-from-behind victory over #15 BYU and a 3-1 win over #22 Loyola Marymount), has scheduled a number of highly-rated teams this season. Notre Dame will face five top 25 teams in 2001, including #9 Florida in the Gator’s Volleyball Conference Challenge at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex on Nov. 24. The Irish have already faced #1 Nebraska, #7 UCLA and #15 Pepperdine this season at the US Bank/Arby’s Tournament in Lincoln, Neb.

Northern Iowa, who entered the USA Today/AVCA Poll on Sept. 9 (currently ranked 16th), will meet the Irish on Tuesday, Oct. 16, in the Quad Cities.


A number of Irish players have posted career-bests during the 2001 season. Malinda Goralski tied her career high in both kills (18) and blocks (11) vs. Southwest Texas and Idaho, respectively. Kim Fletcher posted two career-bests while achieving her first career double-double with 14 kills and 10 digs against Idaho. Fletcher also posted a personal-best nine blocks against Georgetown. Freshman Emily Loomis also posted 14 kills vs. the Vandals, for a personal-best total of her young career.

Junior DS Janie Alderete set a new career mark with 19 digs against #15 Pepperdine on Sept. 9, while sophomore DS Christa Moen posted a personal-best 10 digs at Boston College.

Sophomore OH Jessica Kinder has also excelled in the back row recently, digging a career-best 10 attempts at Connecticut.

NCAA Championship selections pushed back:

Due to the tragic events Sept. 11, the NCAA Executive Committee directed NCAA committees to make appropriate accommodations, such as extending playing seasons, altering schedules and adjusting criteria for championship selection for institutions that chose not to play during the last few days.

The Division I Women’s Volleyball Committee voted to move the championship selection announcement from Sunday, Nov. 25, to Monday, Nov. 26, in order to allow greater flexibility for member institutions to reschedule contests that may have been postponed due to world events. The championship dates of competition will not be adjusted.

Additionally, the committee further emphasized its existing policy of preferred first- and second-round competition dates of Friday/Saturday as first choice, Saturday/Sunday as second choice and Thursday/Friday as third choice.