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Volleyball Hits The Road For First BIG EAST Road Trip

Oct. 3, 2000

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Irish Take to the Road for Two BIG EAST Matches: The Notre Dame Volleyball team (11-4) heads east for two 2000 BIG EAST conference road matches this weekend. The Irish boast a 4-0 record on the road this season, including capturing the Lady Seminole Classic title (Sept. 15-16) in Tallahassee, Fla.

Since Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST in 1995, it is 26-2 on the road in regular-season conference matches. One of the two losses was to West Virginia in 1998.

Scouting the Mountaineers: Notre Dame and West Virginia are meeting for the eighth time … the Irish hold a 5-2 series advantage … West Virginia is 5-9 (1-1 in BIG EAST) in 2000 … Irish junior Kristy Kreher (Birmingham, Mich.) had 11 kills in the 1999 Mountaineer-Irish matchup in the Joyce Center … Nikki Hardy leads the Mountaineer offense with 185 kills.

Scouting the Panthers: Pittsburgh and Notre Dame are meeting for the 16th time … the Irish hold a 13-3 series advantage … Notre Dame has won the last seven matches against the Panthers … Pittsburgh is 15-5 in 2000 with a 1-1 BIG EAST conference record … Irish opposite Kristy Kreher had 11 kills, eight digs and five blocks in the 1999 match vs. the Panthers.

Girton Named Co-BIG EAST Player of the Week for the Second Consecutive Week: For the second time in as many weeks, Christi Girton (Muncie, Ind.) was named Co-BIG EAST Player of the Week. She led the team in kills in both BIG EAST match victories last weekend. Against Villanova, Girton had eight kills on 10 attempts with one error (.700) in just two games against the Wildcats. She also led the Irish in kills with 16 against Georgetown, adding nine digs and four blocks. Girton ended up hitting .354 in the two matches this week with 24 total kills (4.8 per game).

Girton had previously been named the Co-BIG EAST Player of the Week for her performance against Loyola Marymount, Wyoming and Colorado State, Sept. 21-23. In the three matches that 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 (Lisle, Ill.) was given the honor on Sept. 4.

Georgetown Recap: Notre Dame improved to 2-0 in the BIG EAST with a solid three-game victory (15-8, 15-6, 15-8) over Georgetown (10-6) at the Joyce Center Saturday, Oct. 1. The Irish controlled the match from the start and improved to 10-1 in the all-time series with the Hoyas.

Notre Dame featured some outstanding ball control and defense to negate the Hoya offensive plan. Georgetown was held to a .071 hitting percentage in the match, while the Irish combined for 14 team blocks. Senior setter Denise Boylan helped the Irish hit .275 in the match, as the Irish only committed 18 hitting errors on 138 attempts. Boylan totaled 41 assists, nine digs, four kills and two blocks in the match.

Three Irish hitters benefited from Boylan’s steady play. Senior Christi Girton had 16 kills while junior Marcie Bomhack (Waukesha, Wis.) had 12 kills and classmate Kristy Kreher (Birmingham, Mich.) had 11. Bomhack and Kreher also notched double-doubles in the match with 12 and 10 digs, respectively.

Notre Dame’s middle blockers also played a large part in the victory. Senior Jo Jameyson (Alvin, Texas) and Malinda Goralski (Missouri City, Texas) combined for 12 blocks and 13 kills in the match.

The Hoyas were led by Yulia Vtyurina with seven kills and 12 digs.

Villanova Recap: Notre Dame won its BIG EAST opener in three games (15-5, 15-2, 15-9) over Villanova Friday, Sept. 29, at the Joyce Center. The Irish enjoyed a .351 hitting percentage in the match as the whole roster contributed to the victory.

Senior Christi Girton led the way with eight kills on 10 attempts while playing game one and portions of game two. Junior Kristy Kreher contributed seven kills in the match while freshman Jessica Kinder (Fresno, Calif.) had a career-high seven kills as well.

Notre Dame easily controlled the match as setter Denise Boylan led the team to hitting percentages of .435 and .640 in the first two games. Freshman Kristen Kinder (Fresno, Calif.) finished off the setting duties in the final game and totaled 16 assists and five digs.

Junior Marcie Bomhack and Malinda Goralski had five kills in the match and senior Adrienne Shimmel (Mission Viejo, Calif.) had four kills and eight digs. Shimmel and Jessica Kinder were instrumental in helping the Irish come back from a 6-2 deficit in the third game to seal the match victory.

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 239-84 (.739) since she joined the program in 1991. That success came after six years as head coach at Arizona State (1983-88), giving her a 355-167 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.

Milestone: With her 16-kill effort against Georgetown on Oct. 1, senior Christi Girton surpassed the 1,000-kill plateau for her career. Girton currently has 1,012 career kills. She becomes the 11th Irish player to surpass 1,000 kills in a career.

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 595 matches the Irish have played, they have been victorious in 415 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.

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 15 matches this season, she has a .310 percentage (190 kills, 65 errors on 403 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 .256 percentage in 2000 (174 kills, 69 errors on 410 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 113 of 133 home matches for a stellar .849 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 four 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 (St. Louis, Mo.), Jessica Kinder, Kristen Kinder, 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 28 of the 51 games this season, scoring 40 kills, 19 digs and 15 blocks. Jessica Kinder has come off the bench with an effective jump-serve to score 11 aces and also has 23 kills and 44 digs.

MB Katie Neff and S Kristen Kinder were in the starting lineup of the third game versus Valparaiso and Villanova. Kristen Kinder set the Irish to a .409 hitting percentage in the decisive game against Valparaiso and added three kills. Neff had two kills and a block in the game versus the Crusaders. 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 17 games this season, tallying 19 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 two of the top five teams in the nation (#1 Nebraska and #3 Colorado State 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 13th) and #22 Loyola Marymount.

Notre Dame In BIG EAST Competition: Since Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST Conference in 1995, it has won four regular-season conference titles in volleyball. Until Georgetown knocked the Irish off in the BIG EAST Tournament in 1999, Notre Dame had compiled a 10-0 record in the BIG EAST Tournament and won four titles. Current Irish OH Marcie Bomhack was named MVP of the BIG EAST Tournament in 1998.

Goralski Patrols the Net: The loss of 1999 BIG EAST Player of the Year Mary Leffers to graduation has been eased by the steady play of junior Malinda Goralski. Through 15 matches in 2000, Goralski has nearly surpassed her career totals over the last two years:

1998-99:Kills   Blocks  Hitting Percentage  Games Played110 77  .271    912000:Kills   Blocks  Hitting Percentage  Games Played123 56  .371    48

The Missouri, Texas native had a career-high 15 kills in the five-game loss to #16 Michigan State on September 10. She matched that number of kills in the Irish upset of #22 Loyola Marymount.

Goralski, who leads the BIG EAST in hitting percentage with a .371 mark, followed her performance against LMU with a 10-kill match against Wyoming. She totaled those 10 kills on 12 attempts without committing an error for an amazing .833 hitting percentage. She also leads the team in blocks this season with 56.

AVCA Poll History: Since Debbie Brown took over the program in 1991, Notre Dame has made numerous appearances in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll. Notre Dame’s first ranking came in the preseason poll of 1992. Notre Dame’s highest ranking was seventh on Oct. 10, 1995, after an Irish eight-match win streak. The highest final ranking was 12th in 1994, when the Irish advanced to the final 16 teams in the NCAA tournament. Notre Dame is currently ranked 20th in the poll, the highest the Irish have climbed since they placed 16th in the 1998 preseason poll.

2000 BIG EAST Tournament: The 2000 BIG EAST Volleyball Tournament will be played at the Joyce Center for the first time since 1995. The semifinals are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 18, with the championship to be played on Sunday, Nov. 19. The Irish boast a .909 winning percentage (10-1) in tournament play since they joined the league in 1995 and have captured four tournament titles.

Dominance: In the past decade, only three BIG EAST schools have claimed the volleyball tournament crown. Pittsburgh dominated the late ’80s and early ’90s with seven straight titles, while Notre Dame won the next four, led by tournament MVPs Angie Harris (’95), Lindsay Treadwell (’96), Jaimie Lee (’97) and Marcie Bomhack (’98). Providence (’83, ’85, `87) and Georgetown (`99) are the only other schools to have won a BIG EAST championship.

New Format: The BIG EAST Conference has a new four-team format after experimenting with an expanded three-day, six-team field in 1999. The tournament will include the top four teams according to the final regular- season standings.

The semi-finals are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 18 at 1:00 and 3:30 p.m. The champion ship match is slated for 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19.