Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Volleyball Jumps On The Bus For A Trip To Illinois State

Oct. 28, 2002

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Notre Dame (17-5) at Illinois State (10-10) Oct. 29, 7 p.m., Redbird Arena

Radio Coverage:

The Redbird home matches are covered by WJBC AM 1230 and is available on the station’s website at R.C. McBride provides the play-by-play and Kendra Haselhorst is the color analyst.

Notre Dame and Illinois State renew their rivalry :

Notre Dame (17-5) and Illinois State (10-10) will meet in Normal, Ill., on Tuesday, Oct. 29. One of the most competitive series in both program’s history, the Irish and Redbirds have enjoyed some classic matches in the last few seasons. The 2001 meeting in the Joyce Center was decided in five games – including a 35-33 thrilling game two. Out of the 14 meetings between the two schools, just four matches have been decided in three games.

The road match at Illinois State on Tuesday continues a tough series of matches for the Irish team. Notre Dame was on the road for six consecutive matches from Oct. 5 – Oct. 22, finishing 4-2 on the long road trip. The Irish returned home last weekend to defeat BIG EAST Conference opponents Pittsburgh and West Virginia, but still have road matches at Syracuse, Miami and Virginia Tech left on the schedule this season. In all, Notre Dame will have just 13 matches at home this season, compared to 15 matches on the road.

Lauren Brewster nabs first BIG EAST Rookie of the Week award:

Freshman middle blocker Lauren Brewster, ranked 12th in the nation in blocking as of Oct. 21, turned in another dominating performance at the net last week and earned the first BIG EAST weekly award of her career.

The Brentwood, Tenn., native averaged an eye-popping 2.14 blocks per game last week – including five at #2 Hawaii, 10 against Pittsburgh and 10 once again vs. West Virginia. Brewster ended up with 30 total blocks last week, adding 27 kills and four aces.

Brewster also is approaching the freshman record for blocks in a season (see: Brewster enjoying top rookie season note on p. 4 of this notes package.)

Notre Dame vs. Illinois State series notes:

The Irish and Redbirds continue their spirited rivalry again this season … Notre Dame leads the all-time series 8-6 after winning the last three meetings … Illinois State pushed the Irish to five games on Senior Night at the Joyce Center last year … Emily Loomis helped the Irish to victory with 14 kills, 13 digs and four blocks … Megan O’Connell posted 19 kills, seven digs and two blocks for ISU … Notre Dame and Illinois State have engaged in seven five-game matches, including six straight from 1989-97 … the two teams have met every season since 1996 … Notre Dame is 2-4 at Redbird Arena … the Redbirds feature a three-player offensive attack, paced by Jenny Kabbes (253 kills, .296 hitting), Staci Boyce (249 kills) and Erin Jones (215 kills) … ISU’s setter, Kelly Rikli, is averaging 12.00 assists per game … Illinois State has won six of their last eight matches and four in a row at Redbird Arena … Illinois State is seventh in the country for attendance, averaging 2,173 per match (12 home matches so far in 2002) … Illinois State competes in the Missouri Valley Conference and boasts a 7-6 record in conference play.

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, and Notre Dame led the way with a 15-3 overall record and 6-0 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:

Oct. 22, 2002 (records are as of Oct. 20, conference record follows)

1. Notre Dame (15-3, 6-0)

2. Miami (17-2, 5-1)

3. Temple (16-5, 7-0)

4. American (15-6, 7-0)

5. Dayton (16-5, 5-2)

6. Pittsburgh (15-6, 5-1)

7. Georgetown (13-8, 4-2)

8. Xavier (14-8, 5-2)

9. Harvard (10-7, 5-0)

10. Virginia Tech (13-8, 5-1)

Notre Dame has already knocked off #7 Georgetown and #6 Pittsburgh this season. The Irish have yet to face #2 Miami and #10 Virginia Tech.

Follow all Irish home matches via live statistics on the official athletic web site:

The University of Notre Dame official web site,, will provide live statistics for all Irish home volleyball matches this season.

The link,, will be available as soon as the matches start in the Joyce Center. Be advised, however, that the statistics displayed are not official until the match is over.

Notre Dame in the BIG EAST statistical rankings:

As a team, the Irish are second in league hitting percentage (.260), first in blocks (3.79 – a whole 1.08 ahead of Pittsburgh in second place), fourth in assists (13.65) and third in kills (15.32).

As individuals, Lauren Brewster, who is ranked 12th in the country in blocks per game, leads the conference with a 1.64 average. Lauren Kelbley is eighth in the conference with a 1.11 average, followed by teammate Emily Loomis in ninth place (1.07). Jessica Kinder is second in the conference in aces (0.51).

Notre Dame leads the country in blocks per game:

With a dominating 22-team block performance against St. John’s on Sept. 29, the Irish jumped back into the lead for blocks per game average in the country on Sept. 30. The team maintained its position last weekend with 12 blocks at Georgetown and 16 at Villanova.

The Irish did not play last week before their two matches at #2 Hawai’i, so Notre Dame was still ranked first in the country for blocks (3.81) on Oct. 20. Entering the match against Illinois State, Notre Dame’s block average is currently 3.79.

Freshman middle blocker Lauren Brewster has 115 total blocks this season, which ranks her 12th in the nation as of Oct. 20.

Accurate hitting weekend moves Irish into the nation’s top-30 in hitting percentage:

The Notre Dame offense put together two of its best performances of the season at Rutgers and Seton Hall in late October. The .418 team hitting mark from the Rutgers match is the best the team has posted in a three-game match this season and the .362 reached against Seton Hall was another outstanding effort. The two matches moved Notre Dame’s overall team hitting percentage for the 2002 season to .265, which was ranked 30th in the nation as of Oct. 6.

Notre Dame improved its team hitting mark at Georgetown and Villanova and have moved up to 25th in the country (.267). Entering Tuesday’s match at Illinois State, the Irish are 27th in the country (as of Oct. 20).

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 33 with five victories since their upset of the Waves. The 33-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 23 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 attendance starting to increase along with their home-court winning streak:

The University of Notre Dame volleyball team has cracked the top 30 in team attendance this season. In the latest release of NCAA attendance figures (compiled by Diane Nordstrom at Wisconsin) Notre Dame is 30th in the nation, averaging 862 per date (11 matches total).

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 the match with Pittsburgh, the Irish are averaging 3.79 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 22 matches of the 2002 season, Notre Dame dominated at the net to collect 291 team blocks and have failed to post more than 10 team blocks in just three matches this season (vs. Colorado, at St. John’s, at Hawai’i-Oct. 22).

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 (75 blocks), Brewster (115), Kelbley (77) and Loomis (80) play a large role in Notre Dame’s 3.81 blocks-per-game average, which ranked first in the nation as of Oct. 20. The Irish are currently averaging 3.79 blocks per game and the new NCAA statistics will not be released until later this week.

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 115 blocks (ranked 12th in the country as of Oct. 20), 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, 115

4. Jaimie Lee, 110

5. Jessica Fiebelkorn, 107

Brewster still has six regular-season matches left this season (and more possible matches during the post season). Keeping to her average, even if the Irish play three games in each remaining match, Brewster would end up with 145 (30 more blocks).

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 293-99 (.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 have won their last 27 matches against BIG EAST Conference teams and have posted 34 straight wins in regular-season league action. Notre Dame also is 43-0 at home against BIG EAST Conference opponents.

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.

Conference winning streak will be put on the line again against Providence Friday:

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 40 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 33 straight matches against league opponents (including BIG EAST Championship play).

Perhaps the most impressive streak the Irish have compiled is their home court win streak against conference opponents. 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 47.

Notre Dame also has won 33 consecutive matches at home.

Notre Dame ready to broadcast volleyball matches on

The University of Notre Dame athletic department, in conjuncture with the Official College Sports Network (OCSN), will provide live broadcast of Notre Dame volleyball matches this season. OCSN offers the Fighting Irish Pass, which is a subscription service that allows those involved access to all audio available on, including football games, press conferences and interviews.

Notre Dame Assistant Sports Information Director Chris Masters (who worked color commentary for Western Kentucky women’s basketball and volleyball before coming to Notre Dame) will do the play-by-play of the Irish matches this weekend, while Liz Muir, Notre Dame’s Director of Equipment Operations and Lauren Oake (former head coach at Bethel College), will step in for color commentary from time to time during the season.

Liz Muir was a three-time all-ACC and all-region selection at North Carolina. She also was a member of the ACC 50th anniversary volleyball team.

Simply click on the “listen” link on the front page of Notre Dame’s official site,, for access to the live audio coverage.

Here is a quick look at Notre Dame’s last 33 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

* – 2000 BIG EAST Championship