Oct. 22, 2001
Notre Dame Volleyball Release
#20 Notre Dame at Kentucky, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 7 p.m.
#20 Notre Dame at Saint Louis, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 7 p.m.
Irish hit the road for fall break trip:
After a week off from action, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team returns to competition on the road this week for fall break. The Irish will attempt to bounce back from their four-game loss to #16 Northern Iowa at Bettendorf High School in Bettendorf, Iowa, on Oct. 16. Notre Dame is now 12-4 on the season, with all four losses to teams ranked higher than the Irish in the top 25 (#1 Nebraska, #7 UCLA, #15 Pepperdine and #16 Northern Iowa). The matches at Kentucky and Saint Louis this week are the second and third contests in a six-match stretch on the road for the Irish.
Notre Dame vs. Kentucky series history:
One of the most prolific series in Notre Dame volleyball history, the Irish and the Wildcats will be meeting for the 17th time … Notre Dame has only faced Butler (19), Pittsburgh (17) and Valparaiso (17) more times than Kentucky … Kentucky holds a 9-7 advantage in the series … many of the series meetings ocurred in the “Big Four Classic”, a traditional tournament that included Notre Dame, Indiana, Louisville and Kentucky … the two teams also met in the 1991 National Invitational Volleyball Championship match in Fairborn, Ohio (a 3-2 Kentucky victory) … Notre Dame has won the last four meetings, including the most recent match in 1999 (15-9, 15-9, 15-9) at the BIG Orange Bash in Clemson, S.C. … Notre Dame is 1-3 in Memorial Coliseum.
A look at the Wildcats:
Kentucky is 10-8 and 3-5 in SEC competition this season … most recently, the Wildcats dropped a 0-3 match to #21 South Carolina on Oct. 22 … Kristen Batt is the top offensive threat for the Wildcats, averaging 3.87 kills per game … Sissy Canfield is averaging 2.84 kills per game on .268 hitting … Canfield also leads the team in blocks (1.07 per game) … Whitney Sample is the Wildcat setter this season, averaging 12.67 assists per game.
Notre Dame vs. Saint Louis series history:
Notre Dame and Saint Louis will be meeting for the 10th time … the Irish hold a 6-3 advantage in the series … the Irish and the Billikens were both once members of the North Star Conference and the Midwestern Collegiate Conference … SLU is now a member of Conference USA … the teams met last season on Notre Dame Senior Appreciation Night and the Irish earned a 3-0 (15-5, 15-5, 15-10) victory … Notre Dame is 1-1 in the Bauman-Eberhardt Center … this week’s match will be a homecoming for sophomores Kim Fletcher (Nerinx Hall) and Katie Neff (Cor Jesu Academy).
A look at the Billikens:
Saint Louis is 8-9 (5-4) this season after winning a five-game thriller over Conference USA’s second-place team, Louisville … Colleen Hunter is the catalyst of the Billiken offense, averaging 4.72 kills per game on .282 hitting … Hunter also leads Saint Louis in blocks (1.14 per game), while the team averages 2.45 blocks per game … Shannon Swiney is the Billiken setter this season (10.41 assists per game, 2.06 digs per game).
Brown tabbed as Olympic Torchbearer:
University of Notre Dame head volleyball coach Debbie Brown has been selected to represent the South Bend/Northern Indiana area as an Olympic Torchbearer when the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympic Torch Relay travels through the area.
On Friday, Oct. 19, South Bend mayor Stephen Luecke introduced a small number of the 34 runners, including Brown, who will carry the flame through South Bend when it arrives on Jan. 4, 2002.
The route has not been made official yet, but it will end at the Century Center at 10:00 a.m. on Jan. 4, where the city will host the flame for a 30 minute community celebration before the Relay continues to Gary, Ind.
The nominations for the local torchbearers started in the spring and the nominees were required to embody the inspirational spirit of the Olympics by serving and motivating the community. All nominations from throughout the country were sent to a central location, organized by zip code, and then distributed to approximately 100 judging sectors.
While a junior at USC in 1978, Brown accepted an invitation to train full-time with the U.S. national volleyball team. She captained the team to a fifth-place finish at the ’78 World Championship before earning a spot on the 1980 Olympic team (which never competed in the games due to the U.S. boycott of the games).
She continued her association with the national team in 1986 as a consultant, and she emerged as a full-time assistant in 1988, aiding the team’s ’88 Olympic effort and a 1990 campaign that resulted in a bronze medal at the World Championships.
In May of 1995, Brown was named an “All-Time Great Volleyball Player” by USA Volleyball.
Brown has coached at Notre Dame since 1990, leading the team to nine consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and five BIG EAST Conference championships. She and her husband of 20 years, Dennis, have two sons, Connor and Ryan. The Browns currently reside in Granger, Ind.
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.
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 nine 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 .276 on the season by virtue of five matches since Sept. 22, where she posted a hitting percentage over .420.
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 1.64 (87 total). She also is ranked second in hitting percentage (.389) 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. 14), Goralski was ranked 15th in blocks per game.
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 (143), fourth in digs (77) and second in blocks (62). 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 has 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.
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 1.17 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 14 out of 16 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 2.80 average (151 total).
Not just a defensive threat, Alderete is first on the team with 17 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 .254 hitting percentage 16 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 second on the team in aces with 16, second in digs with 128 and has collected 27 blocks (including seven solo). Her assist average is third in the BIG EAST Conference at 11.87 (as of Oct. 22) and she also has shown the ability to provide a kill when needed – knocking down 52 shots this season (0.96 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 3-4 on the road, with all four losses to ranked teams (#1 Nebraska, #7 UCLA, #15 Pepperdine, #16 Northern Iowa).
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.
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, #15 Pepperdine and #16 Northern Iowa this season.
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.