Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Volleyball Looks For At-Large Playoff Bid

Nov. 24, 1999

Irish Fall In Championship Final
In a replay of last year’s BIG EAST championship match but with the opposite result, the second-seeded Georgetown Hoyas defeated the top-seeded University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish 15-11, 15-10, 15-8 to win their first BIG EAST championship and the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Irish had been going for their fifth consecutive BIG EAST Championship since joining the conference in 1995 and had not lost a match in tournament play since that time.

The Hoyas were led by Yulia Vtyurina’s 16 kills, while BIG EAST Tournament MVP Kaili Stevens contributed seven kills on 12 attempts.

Notre Dame had advanced to the final after defeating Connecticut in four games on Saturday, while the Hoyas advanced after defeating Syracuse.

Leffers Named BIG EAST Player of the Year
After setting conference records for blocks and hitting percentage, Notre Dame senior captain Mary Leffers (Tampa, Fla.) was named the 1999 BIG EAST Volleyball Player of the Year Thursday evening at the conference’s annual award banquet. Leffers was joined by junior setter Denise Boylan (Lisle, Ill.) on the all-BIG EAST first team, while junior Christi Girton (Muncie, Ind.) and sophomore Kristy Kreher (Birmingham, Mich.) were named to the all-conference second team.

Leffers, a middle blocker, set BIG EAST records for most blocks (67) and highest hitting percentage (.475) in conference matches and is currently ranked fifth nationally in blocks per game. She joins past Notre Dame BIG EAST Players of the Year, Jenny Birkner (1995) and two-time player of the year, outside hitter Jaimie Lee (1997, 1996).

Joining Leffers on the all-conference first team was Boylan, who ranks fourth in the BIG EAST in assists per game in conference matches (12.21). A 1999 preseason all-BIG EAST selection, Boylan has led the Irish to a .282 hitting percentage and a phenomenal .359 hitting percentage in BIG EAST regular season matches.

Girton was named to the all-BIG EAST second team for the second year in a row after earning all-rookie honors in 1997. The outside hitter ranks first on the team in kills per game (3.84) and digs per game (2.47) and recorded six double-doubles (kills/digs) in her last nine matches.

A BIG EAST all-rookie team selection in 1998, Kreher is third in conference hitting percentage (.377). The opposite or rightside hitter has tallied seven double-doubles in 1999 and has set career highs in digs with 18 against Providence, in blocks with seven against Michigan and in hitting percentage with a .700 (15-1-20) mark against Connecticut.

Providence head coach Ken Nichols, who led the Friars to their first BIG EAST Tournament appearance since 1994, was named conference coach of the year. Georgetown freshman Lauren Warner was named BIG EAST Rookie of the Year.

For a complete list of BIG EAST nominees please see the bar located on page three.

NCAA Selection Show Set For Sunday
The Irish will find out if they will be granted an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament when the 1999 Division I women’s volleyball selection show takes place on Sunday, Nov. 28, at 10 p.m. EST (or 7 p.m. PST).

The 30-minute show can be viewed live on television with the use of a DSS dish such as DirecTV or Dish Network. The Sunshine Network (DirecTV 632/Dish Network 422) and Empire Sports (DirecTV 626/Dish Network 432) will air the show live.

The show may also be viewed on satellite at Galaxy 6 (99 degrees west), Transponder 9. The downlink frequency is 3880 MHz (H) and the audio will be set at 6.2/6.8 mixed program.

For more information, please contact Notre Dame Sports Information.

Notre Dame Looks For First Win At UOP’s Bankers Classic
The Irish travels to California for their last regular season matches at the University of the Pacific’s Community Bankers Classic.

This year’s tournament field includes Notre Dame, Washington State, Pacific and Sacramento State. It is the third time that the Irish will be traveling to UOP’s Thanksgiving weekend tournament after participating in the 1993 and 1996 editions. The Community Bankers Classic is in its 21st year of existence.

Notre Dame In The Community

Bankers Classic

1993:   at #11 Pacific         (L, 0-3)        vs. #4 BYU             (L, 0-3)1996:   vs. #11 Washington St. (L, 0-3)        at #12 Pacific         (L, 0-3)

Scouting the Cougars
The Irish have a chance to record the program’s 11th, 20-win season with a victory over Washington State on Friday.

The two schools will meet for the first time since 1997 with the Cougars holding a 3-0 all-time record against the Irish.

In 1999, head coach Cindy Fredrick’s team is 13-13 overall and 7-11 in the Pac-10. They are led by senior outside hitter Joy Sperry, who averages a team-best 3.66 kills per game and 3.44 digs per game. Freshman outside hitter LaToya Harris (3.34 kpg) and sophomore middle blocker Missy Blackshire (3.59 kpg) are also offensive threats with setter Melissa Wright (12.93 apg) running the Cougar offense.

Washington State had an off season last year, failing of make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1992.

Scouting the Tigers
Notre Dame and tournament host the University of the Pacific can meet Saturday for the second time this season provided both teams win or lose.

Earlier this year, the fifth-ranked Tigers (26-2 overall, 15-1 in the Big West) defeated the Irish in three games at the Shamrock Invitational at Notre Dame. Pacific also leads the all-time series, 4-1, with Notre Dame’s win coming in 1988 at Pacific.

The Tigers are led by national player of the year candidate outside hitter Elsa Stegemann, who averages 5.19 kills per game. Middle blocker Tracy Chambers (3.16 kpg) and outside hitter Jennica Smith (3.08 kpg) add fire power to coach John Dunning’s squad. Setter Tanja Dimitrijevic, a 1999 Shamrock Invitational all-tournament honoree, averages 12.70 assists per game.

Scouting the Hornets
The Hornets (21-8 overall and 13-3 Big Sky) and the Irish are both coming off upset losses at each of the team’s respective conference tournaments. Sacramento State suffered a five-game loss to Cal State Northridge, just six days after beating the Matadors in five games.

The Hornets, under head coach Debby Colberg, are led by Big Sky Conference MVP setter Maureen Rafferty, who averages 13.33 assists per game. Offensively, senior outside hitter Angela Lewis leads the squad in kills per game (4.52) and digs per game (4.42). Middle blockers Tasman Dwyer and Sarah Chlebana both average more than three kills per game.

Should the Irish and Sacramento State face each other on Saturday, it will be the first meeting between the two schools.

Irish Among National Leaders
The Notre Dame volleyball squad is leaving its mark as one of the nation’s top teams. In national statistics through Sunday, November 14, the Irish were listed as a team in two categories, while senior Mary Leffers was ranked individually in both blocks and hitting percentage.

Notre Dame appeared for the sixth time as a team among the nation’s leaders in hitting percentage with a .290 average (12th overall). The Irish fell two spots to 10th in team blocks per game with a 3.31 mark. Top-ranked Penn State is currently first in hitting percentage (.332), while third-ranked University of Hawai’i is first in blocks (3.94).

Individually, Leffers leads the Irish in both hitting percentage and blocks per game. The middle blocker is 17th in hitting percentage (.375) and fifth nationally in blocks per game (1.79). Leffers trails the national leader in blocks, Heather Bown of Hawai’i, who boasts a 2.22 per game average, and the national leader in hitting percentage, Heather Wright of Florida, who has a .450 percentage.

Notre Dame Tops District Rankings
For the fourth straight time, the Notre Dame volleyball team is ranked first in the NCAA District I rankings, which were released on November 17.

Other BIG EAST teams in the top 10 district rankings include Georgetown (third) and Connecticut (eighth).

Irish Claim BIG EAST Regular Season Title
For the fourth time in five years, Notre Dame claimed the BIG EAST regular season title, doing so in perfect fashion with an 11-0 conference record.

The Irish, who joined the conference in 1995, are 53-2 all-time in BIG EAST conference regular season matches.

Leffers Sets BIG EAST Records
Capping her team’s undefeated regular BIG EAST season, Notre Dame senior Mary Leffers established herself as one of the best in conference history as she set records for both hitting percentage and total blocks.

With her season-best 10-block performance against Georgetown, Leffers finished with 67 total blocks in the 11 conference matches to surpass the previous record of 66 held by Stacy Evans of Villanova (1996).

Leffers also broke the all-time individual BIG EAST season record for hitting percentage with a .475 mark to top Sheri Kujawa of Rutgers, who had a .470 hitting percentage in 1996.

Boylan, Leffers Reach Milestones
Notre Dame’s two captains, Mary Leffers and Denise Boylan both reached milestones in their career last week.

Leffers reached the 1,000 career kill mark with her 17-kill performance against Illinois State. She becomes just the 10th player in Notre Dame volleyball history to reach that milestone.

Boylan recorded her 3,000 career assist with a 24-assist performance against Syracuse. The junior setter also passed up Taryn Collins for second place on the Notre Dame career assist list with a current total of 3,170.

Girton, Leffers Garner Weekly Honors
Two Notre Dame players, Mary Leffers and Christi Girton, were honored this season as BIG EAST Players of the Week. Leffers was a three-time honoree, earning the distinction September 6, October 4 and October 11, while Girton was the BIG EAST Player of the Week back on November 8.

Kreher Named To Junior National Team
Sophomore opposite Kristy Kreher was one of 20 players chosen for USA Volleyball’s Junior National Team following a tryout at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Although Kreher ultimately decided not to train with the team as it would cut into the start of the 1999 volleyball season and the academic year, the team, which included girls ages 17-19, trained in Colorado from July 10 – August 7. Twelve players then were chosen to compete in the Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) Junior World Championships in Saskatoon and Edmonton, Canada.

The team, which is in its second year of existence, consisted of nine college sophomores, eight incoming college freshmen and three high school seniors.

NCAA Bids Keep Rolling
After qualifying for its seventh straight trip to the NCAAs in 1998, the Notre Dame volleyball program currently has the second-longest active streak of NCAA appearances of any Irish athletic team. The Irish have advanced to the Elite Eight once (1993) and the round of 16 three times (1994, 1995, 1997). Notre Dame has suffered only one first round loss (1992) during that streak.

The only other Notre Dame team to have more is men’s tennis, which has earned eight consecutive bids from 1991-99.

Head Coach Debbie Brown
Notre Dame head coach Debbie Brown is in her ninth season at Notre Dame and her 15th overall. Brown has compiled a mark of 227-78 with the Irish and has a career record of 344-161, which includes six years at the helm of her alma mater, Arizona State.

In recognition of Brown’s contribution to the University, Notre Dame’s National Monogram Club bestowed upon her an honorary monogram at the annual Monogram Club awards dinner in June 1999. She joins an elite group of six current Irish coaches to have been awarded an honorary monogram.

AVCA/USA Today Top 25 Poll
November 22, 1999

Rk School (’99 record) Points (1st)
1. Penn State (28-1) 1,491 (54)
2. Stanford (23-2) 1,435 (6)
3. Hawai’i (24-1) 1,367
4. Florida (28-2) 1,299
5. Pacific (26-2) 1,274
6. UCLA (25-2) 1,216
7. LBSU (23-3) 1,151
8. UC Santa Barbara (23-5) 1,066
9. BYU (24-3) 982
10. Pepperdine (23-3) 980
11. Nebraska (23-5) 887
12. Colorado State (25-2) 856
13. Texas A&M (23-5) 775
14. USC (19-7) 663
15. Texas (20-6) 617
16. Clemson (31-2) 578
17. Northern Iowa (28-0) 557
18. Kansas State (19-7) 485
19. Arizona (18-9) 433
20. Minnesota (24-7) 352
21. Colorado (17-10) 247
22. Baylor (23-8) 219
23. North Carolina (27-5) 217
24. Arkansas (27-6) 133
25. San Diego (22-5) 124

Others Receiving 30 or more points: Wisconsin (66)
Italics = 1999 Notre Dame opponents

Probable Notre Dame Starters

Denise Boylan, Jr. 6-1 (Lisle, Ill.)

Outside Hitters
Marcie Bomhack, So., 6-0 (Waukesha, Wis.)
Christi Girton, Jr., 6-3 (Muncie, Ind.)

Kristy Kreher, So., 6-1 (Birmingham, Mich.)

Middle Blockers
Mary Leffers, Sr., 6-4 (Tampa, Fla.)
Malinda Goralski, So., 6-1 (Missouri City, Texas)

Defensive Specialists
Adrienne Shimmel, Jr., 5-10 (Mission Viejo, Calif.)
Keara Coughlin, Fr., 5-7 (Chicago, Ill.)

Volleyball Magazine Poll
November 22, 1999

R School 1999 Record
1. Penn State 28-1
2. Stanford 23-2
3. Florida 28-2
4. Hawai’i 24-1
5. Pacific 26-2
6. UCLA 25-2
7. Long Beach State 22-3
8. Nebraska 21-5
9. Brigham Young 24-3
10. UC Santa Barbara 23-5
11. Colorado State 25-2
12. Texas A&M 23-5
13. Pepperdine 21-3
14. Texas 20-6
15. Northern Iowa 28-0
16. USC 19-7
17. Kansas State 19-7
18. Clemson 31-2
19. Baylor 23-8
20. Arizona 18-9


BIG EAST Player of the Year
Mary Leffers, Notre Dame

BIG EAST Coach of the Year
Ken Nichols, Providence

BIG EAST Rookie of the Year
Lauren Warner, Georgetown

All-BIG EAST First Team
Mary Leffers, Notre Dame
Denise Boylan, Notre Dame
Kiran Gill, Georgetown
Chanice Harris, Connecticut
Colleen Lee, Providence
Lola Opadiran, Rutgers

All-BIG EAST Second Team
Christi Girton, Notre Dame
Kristy Kreher, Notre Dame
Dana Fiume, Syracuse
Sarah Katinger, Providence
Amy Schweitzer, Georgetown
Yulia Vtyurina, Georgetown

BIG EAST All-Rookie Team
Jen Crownover, Syracuse
Janice Dykema,Connecticut
Anna Kleinsorge, Georgetown
Carrie Norris, Pittsburgh
Lauren Warner, Georgetown
Melissa Wooley, Connecticut


BIG EAST Players of the Week

9/6 Mary Leffers, Notre Dame
Yulia Vyturina, Georgetown
9/13 Melissa Alpers, Pittsburgh
9/20 Kiran Gill, Georgetown
Olga Roudavski, St. John’s
9/27 Breen Eddinger, Villanova
Dana Fiume, Syracuse
10/4 Mary Leffers, Notre Dame
Lola Opadiran, Rutgers
10/11 Mary Leffers, Notre Dame
Chanice Harris, Connecticut
10/18 Yulia Vtyurina, Georgetown
10/25 Rachel Watson, Syracuse
11/1 Colleen Lee, Providence
11/8 Christi Girton, Notre Dame
11/15 Sarah Katinger, Providence

BIG EAST Rookies of the Week

9/6 Melissa Wooley, Connecticut
9/13 Lauren Warner, Georgetown
9/20 Lauren Warner, Georgetown
9/27 Erin Birunas, Villanova
10/4 Lauren Warner, Georgetown
10/11 Carrie Norris, Pittsburgh
10/18 Melissa Wooley, Connecticut
10/25 Jen Crownover, Syracuse
Tari Boutin, Pittsburgh
11/1 Pualani Tuyay, Rutgers
11/8 Carrie Norris, Pittsburgh
11/15 Janice Dykema, Connecticut


Standings Overall BE
1. NOTRE DAME 16-6 9-0
2. Georgetown 24-3 8-1
3. Rutgers 14-12 7-2
4. Providence 14-11 6-3
5. Connecticut 17-8 5-4
6. Syracuse 20-12 4-5
7. Seton Hall 14-12 3-6
8. St. John’s 15-14 3-6
9. Pittsburgh 10-10 3-6
10. Boston College 12-15 3-6
11. West Virginia 11-15 3-6
12. Villanova 9-18 0-9

NCAA District Rankings
As of November 17

Rank Team Record
1. NOTRE DAME 18-6
2. Temple 20-5
3. Georgetown 25-4
4. Xavier 22-7
5. Rhode Island 16-8
6. Massachusetts 15-12
7. George Washington 15-9
8. Connecticut 19-8
9. Hofstra 24-5
10. Dayton 14-12