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Volleyball On The Way To Hawaii For Ultimate Challenge

Oct. 18, 2002

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Notre Dame (13-3, 4-0) at #2 Hawai’i (13-0, 3-0), Monday & Tuesday, Oct. 21 & 22, 7 p.m., Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, Hawaii

Fall break means trip to Hawaii for Irish volleyball team:

The University of Notre Dame volleyball team (15-3, 6-0) will take off for the Hawaiian Islands on Friday, Oct. 18, during fall break. Although two days of beautiful weather in Hawaii will be a welcome experience for the Irish, the trip is not without its challenges. Notre Dame will be taking on #2 Hawai’i (13-0, 3-0) twice in two days in one of the most hostile enviroments in collegiate volleyball.

The Rainbows lead the nation in attendance, averaging 7,192 fans at each home contest. The two matches on Monday (Oct. 21) and Tuesday (Oct. 22) will wrap up a six-match road trip for the Fighting Irish and mark a break in the BIG EAST Conference schedule. Notre Dame is the lone conference team undefeated in league play this season.

Notre Dame vs. Hawai’i series notes:

Notre Dame returns to the Hawaiian Islands to take on collegiate volleyball power Hawai’i for the first time since 1996 … in ’96, the Irish dropped two three-game matches to the number-one ranked Rainbows … Notre Dame also traveled to Hawai’i in 1992, splitting a pair of games … the two games against Hawai’i for the Irish this season cap a six-match road trip … Notre Dame is 1-3 in the Stan Sheriff Center … Hawai’i finished 29-6 in 2001 and 13-0 in the Western Athletic Conference … the Rainbows are led on offense by Kim Willoughby … the outside hitter is averaging 6.15 kills per game on .380 hitting … Hawai’i utilizes two setters, as Jennifer Carey (226) and Margaret Vakasausau (365) lead the team in assists … Hawai’i is hitting .339 as a team, which leads the country.

Notre Dame vs. ranked opponents:

The last time the Irish …

… faced a top-five opponent: 2001, at #1 Nebraska, L, 0-3

… defeated a top-five opponent: 1993, vs. #3 Nebraska, W, 3-0

… defeated a ranked opponent: 2002, vs. #10 Pepperdine, W, 3-2

… defeated a ranked opponent on the road: 1994, at #15 Colorado, W, 3-1

Kelbley named BIG EAST Co-Rookie of the Week for the second time in 2002:

After posting 26 kills and 12 blocks in Notre Dame’s two victories over Georgetown and Villanova last weekend, freshman middle blocker Lauren Kelbley was named co-BIG EAST rookie of the week on Monday, Oct. 13. It is the second rookie of the week award for the Bascom, Ohio, native this season.

Kelbley led the Irish in hitting percentage (.500) and blocks (12) in the two victories over the weekend while averaging 3.71 kills per game. She tied for the team high in kills against Georgetown with 13 and hit .611 in the match. Wrapping up the weekend on Sunday at Villanova, Kelbley had 13 kills on .423 hitting with four solo blocks.

She shared the rookie of the week award with Miami’s Karla Johnson.

Loomis is on a tear:

Over a five-match stretch this season, sophomore outside hitter Emily Loomis scored 22, 21, 15, 20 and 20 kills, respectively. She hit over .358 in those matches (vs. Pepperdine, at Purdue, vs. Michigan, vs. Connecticut and vs. St. John’s) and is currently averaging over a block per game (1.11).

Not surprisingly, Loomis was named co-BIG EAST Player of the Week on Sept. 30, and leads the team in kills (237) this season.

The sophomore from Fort Wayne, Ind., has hit for double-digit kills in 13 of 18 matches this season. She also is on a string of nine consecutive double-digit kill matches.

Loomis also excelling on defense:

While Emily Loomis might be attracting all the attention with her offensive exploits, her defense at the net has been outstanding this season as well. The all-BIG EAST high jumper is well-known for her vertical jump measurement, which was the highest ever posted by a Notre Dame volleyball player (approx. 10-6).

Playing outside hitter for the Irish this season, Loomis leads the team with 21 solo blocks (she has 68 blocks overall). In the latest NCAA statistics released on Oct. 13, many of the players ranked for block average do not have 21 solo blocks to their credit. The NCAA ranks 30 players for block average (Lauren Brewster is ranked 12th), but of those 30 (many of which are middle blockers), only eight have recorded more solo blocks than Loomis.

Notre Dame in the BIG EAST statistical rankings:

As a team, the Irish are second in league hitting percentage (.267), first in blocks (3.81 – a whole 1.11 ahead of West Virginia in second place), third in assists (13.71), first in opponent hitting percentage (.149) and third in kills (15.51).

As individuals, Lauren Brewster, who is ranked 12th in the country in blocks per game, leads the conference with a 1.52 average. Lauren Kelbley is eighth in the conference with a 1.11 average, followed by teammate Emily Loomis in ninth place (1.11). Jessica Kinder is second in the conference in aces (0.47).

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.

Notre Dame enters this weekend’s action averaging 3.81 blocks per game, ahead of Long Beach State (3.70) and Stanford (3.62).

Freshman middle blocker Lauren Brewster has 85 total blocks this season, which ranks her 12th in the nation as of Oct. 13.

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).

Bench plays large role in victory over UConn:

Dropping the first game to Connecticut on Friday prompted a few mid-match lineup changes from Irish head coach Debbie Brown. Freshmen Kelly Burrell and Meg Henican saw their most significant playing time of the season and preseason all-BIG EAST middle blocker Kim Fletcher continued her push toward more time in the rotation with a solid performance.

Burrell relieved starting setter Kristen Kinder in game two against UConn. Kristen Kinder had been working through a knee injury over the past week and the limited practice time might have caught up with her. Burrell ended up with 35 assists, four digs and five blocks in the match.

Henican came in on the outside to give the Husky defense a different look and responded with nine kills and 14 digs – both career highs.

Fletcher, arguably playing the best volleyball on the team at the end of the 2001 season, has been working her way into the rotation with a burst of energy off the bench. Against UConn, the junior middle came through with a season-high 11 kills and added five blocks.

Irish sets 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 31 with three victories since their upset of the Waves. The 31-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 eight 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 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 St. John’s, the Irish are averaging 3.81 blocks per game this season – a mark which leads the nation as of Oct. 13.

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 18 matches of the 2002 season, Notre Dame dominated at the net to collect 240 team blocks and have failed to post more than 10 team blocks in just two matches this season (vs. Colorado, at St. John’s).

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 (63 blocks), Brewster (85), Kelbley (65) and Loomis (68) play a large role in Notre Dame’s 3.81 blocks-per-game average, which ranked first in the nation as of Oct. 13.

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 291-96 (.752) 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 6-0 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.

Here is a quick look at Notre Dame’s last 31 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

* – 2000 BIG EAST Championship

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, 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.

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 game is over.

Conference winning streak will be put on the line again against Pittsburgh on Oct. 25:

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 38 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 31 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 45.

Notre Dame also has won 31 consecutive matches at home.