Aug. 29, 2000
WHO: University of Notre Dame, Brigham Young University, Clemson University and Fairfield University women's volleyball teams.WHAT: The 2000 Shamrock Invitational Volleyball Tournament.WHERE: University of Notre Dame's Joyce Center.WHEN: Brigham Young vs. Clemson, Friday, 1:30 p.m. Notre Dame vs. Fairfield, Friday, 4:00 p.m. Clemson vs. Fairfield, Saturday, 4:30 p.m. Notre Dame vs. BYU, Saturday, 7:00 p.m. Notre Dame vs. Clemson, Sunday, 2:00 p.m.
The First of Three: The University of Notre Dame volleyball team begins the 2000 season and a drive for its ninth-straight NCAA tournament appearance as its plays host to the Shamrock Invitational this weekend. The Shamrock is the first of three home volleyball tournaments the Irish will play host to in the month of September. The adidas Invitational is scheduled Sept. 8-10, and the Golden Dome Invitational is set for Sept. 22-23.
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 584 matches the Irish have played, they have been victorious in 408 of them for an impressive .699 winning percentage.
Preseason Honors: Notre Dame senior setter Denise Boylan (Lisle, Ill.) 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 average are both second in school history.
Boylan was joined on the preseason all-BIG EAST team by fellow senior Christi Girton (Muncie, Ind.). 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.
1999 Review: Notre Dame earned its eighth consecutive NCAA tournament bid after going 20-9 overall and 11-0 in conference play to capture the BIG EAST regular season title. It was Notre Dame’s fourth regular season title since they began league play in 1995.
Senior middle blocker Mary Leffers earned the 1999 BIG EAST player-of-the-year ward, becoming the third Notre Dame player to be so honored (Jaimie Lee ’96,’97 and Jen Birkner ’95).
Notre Dame returns five starters in 2000 from the ’99 team, including all-BIG EAST first-team selection Denise Boylan and second- team selections Christi Girton and junior Kristy Kreher (Birmingham, Mich.).
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.
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.
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 228-80 (.740) since she joined the program in 1991. That success came after six years as head coach at Arizona State (1983-88), giving her a 345-163 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.
Shamrock Invitational History:
This will be the fourth straight year and sixth overall that the Notre Dame volleyball team is playing host the Shamrock Invitational. An early-season tradition for the Irish, the Shamrock Invitational has played host to 16 different teams. The Irish boast a 14-3 all-time record in the event.
Notre Dame finished second in the 1999 Shamrock behind Pacific, who beat the Irish in three games 10-15, 10-15, 9-15. The Irish defeated Louisville 16-14, 15-13, 15-4 to lock up second place.
Irish senior co-captain Denise Boylan was named to the 1999 Shamrock all-tournament team, the first of three all-tournament honors she would earn during the season.
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 162-61 all-time in the Joyce Center and the Debbie Brown era (1991-current) is even better. Since 1991, Notre Dame has won 108 of 124 home matches for a stellar .840 winning percentage.
These numbers will be challenged in 2000 as the Irish will welcome volleyball powers #1 UCLA, #6 Nebraska, #13 Colorado State, #15 BYU, #20 Michigan State, and #23 Loyola Marymount to name a few of the 17 home matches on the schedule. Notre Dame will also play host to the 2000 BIG EAST volleyball championship Nov. 18-19.
A Highly-Rated Group of Freshmen:
The incoming class of 2004 that features Kim Fletcher (St. Louis, Mo.), Jessica Kinder (Fresno, Calif.), Kristen Kinder (Fresno, Calif.), 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.
First Time Opponents: Notre Dame will play a number of matches in 2000 against teams its has never met before. Preseason number one UCLA is the highest profile new opponent for the Irish. UCLA makes the trip east to the Joyce Center to play in the adidas Invitational Sept. 8-10. Notre Dame also will face the Florida A&M Rattlerettes and Samford Bulldogs for the first time when the Irish travel to Tallahassee, Fla., for the Lady Seminole Classic Sept. 15-16.
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.
Scouting the Stags:
The Fairfield Stags and the Irish will meet for the second time. The Stags won the first meeting in five games 14-16, 15-13, 8-15, 15-4, 15-17 in 1998. Irish senior Christi Girton had 15 kills in the ’98 meeting while Fairfield junior Joanne Saunders notched 17 kills in the match.
Fairfield posted its second consecutive 30-win season in 1999, won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship and made its third straight trip to the NCAA tournament. Corrine Carlson, the 1999 MAAC Player-of-the-Year (.375 hitting percentage, 48 aces in `99), will lead the Stag offensive attack and is second in school history in digs and third in blocks.
Scouting the Cougars:
The BYU Cougars and the Irish will meet for the third time. BYU has won both of the previous meetings including a 12-15, 7-15, 7-15 victory in 1999. Kristy Kreher had 13 kills and 10 digs in the `99 match while BYU’s Nina Puikkonen recorded 20 kills and seven blocks.
Puikkonen returns in 2000 and was ranked third in the nation in blocks last season. Also, sophomore Sunny Tonga earned freshman All-America honors from Volleyball Magazine.
Scouting the Tigers:
Clemson and Notre Dame have split their two previous meetings with the Tigers taking the last match in three games at the 1999 BIG Orange Bash. Irish seniors Marcie Bomhack (Waukesha, Wis.) and Jo Jameyson (Alvin, Texas) both had six kills in the match while Clemson junior Jodi Steffes had six kills and 10 digs.
The Tigers have a strong right side with sophomore Jessie Betcher and Steffes (the last two ACC Rookies of the Year). Steffes earned second-team all-ACC honors in 1999.
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 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.
Friday Night at the Joyce Center:
A new wrinkle on the 2000 Notre Dame volleyball schedule has the Friday Shamrock and adidas Invitational tournament games being played before the football pep rally in the Joyce Center. The new format will allow the volleyball fans seated for the Friday afternoon matches to keep their seats for the pep rally. Approximately 4,000 seats will be available for public seating at the volleyball game. On Friday, Sept. 1, #15 BYU will meet Clemson at 1:30 p.m., and the Irish will take on Fairfield at 4 p.m. Admission for the Friday tournament games is free for all ages.
Academics Job One:
In addition to ranking as one of the top programs in the nation, the Notre Dame volleyball team also has excelled in the classroom:
* Six players made the Dean’s List in 1999-2000 including Janie Alderete, Denise Boylan, Keara Coughlin, Christi Girton, Michelle Graham and Jo Jameyson. Graham received the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Knute Rockne Scholar-Athlete award for the volleyball program.
* Each member of Notre Dame’s 2000 team roster was a member of the National Honor Society in high school.
* Notre Dame has had two student-athletes receive GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors, including Jaimie Lee (second team) in 1997 and former assistant coach Jessica Fiebelkorn (second team) in 1992.