Nov. 29, 2000
WHO: Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Ohio State and Ball State
WHAT: First and Second Round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament
WHERE: St. John Arena, Columbus, Ohio
WHEN: #20 Notre Dame vs. Cincinnati, Friday, Dec. 1, 5:00 p.m.
#16 Ohio State vs. Ball State, Friday, Dec. 1, 7:00 p.m.
Winners of match one and two, Saturday, Dec. 2, 7:00 p.m.
Destination: Columbus, Ohio: The 2000 BIG EAST Champion and 19th-ranked Notre Dame volleyball team (25-6) heads to Columbus, Ohio, this weekend to begin competition in the 2000 NCAA Volleyball Tournament. The Irish will face Cincinnati in the first round on Friday, Dec. 1 (5:00 p.m.). Ohio State will play host to the first two rounds of the tournament this season and will face Ball State Friday, Dec. 1, at 7:00 p.m.
2000 Regular Season Recap: Notre Dame has enjoyed one of the most successful seasons of the Debbie Brown era in 2000. In her 10th year with the Irish, Brown guided the team to a 25-6 record (the six losses coming to ranked teams, Nebraska, UCLA, Michigan State, Colorado State, Michigan and USC). Notre Dame captured its fifth BIG EAST regular season and Championship titles this season, compiling an 11-0 record in conference play and sweeping Connecticut and Rutgers in the BIG EAST Championship (Nov. 18-19). Senior setter Denise Boylan (Lisle, Ill.) led an Irish offense that boasted a .286 hitting percentage, which currently ranks first in school history. Boylan’s stellar play earned her the BIG EAST Player of the Year Award, BIG EAST Setter of the Year Award and the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player Award. Boylan was joined on the all-BIG EAST first team by senior Christi Girton (Muncie, Ind.) and junior Kristy Kreher (Birmingham, Mich.). Junior Marcie Bomhack (Waukesha, Wis.) earned second team all-BIG EAST honors while freshman Kim Fletcher (St. Louis, Mo.) was named to the all-rookie team.
The Irish began the 2000 slate with one of the toughest early-season schedules in the nation. In the month of September, Notre Dame faced #15 BYU, #16 Michigan State, #3 UCLA, #4 Nebraska, #22 Loyola Marymount and #7 Colorado State. Two thrilling victories over BYU (five games) and Loyola Marymount (four games) set the tone for a successful BIG EAST campaign. The Irish posted a perfect 11-0 record in conference play, completing five out of six years without a loss in the BIG EAST regular season.
Notre Dame’s surge at the end of the season included an 11-match win streak, a 22-3 record over the final 25 matches and a nail-biting five-game loss to #3 USC on the Trojan’s home court.
BIG EAST Regular Season Title: Notre Dame captured its fifth BIG EAST regular season title in six years with victories over conference opponents Boston College and Providence the weekend of Nov. 3 and 5. The Irish have lost only two BIG EAST regular season matches during their six years of conference competition, compiling a 64-2 (.970) record in that span.
Scouting the Bearcats: Cincinnati is 24-9 overall with a 14-2 mark in Conference USA competition … the Bearcats won the Conference USA American Division title … they are an at-large selection … this is the second consecutive appearance in the tournament and third overall for Cincinnati … Shauntel Miller leads the Bearcats with 491 kills (4.09 per game) this season.
Scouting the Buckeyes: Ohio State is 24-6 in 2000 and finished fourth in the Big Ten Conference … OSU knocked Notre Dame out of the 1999 NCAA Tournament in four games last season … the Buckeyes upset #7 Minnesota in five games on Nov. 25 … OSU is playing host to the NCAA tournament for the seventh time … the Buckeyes have a balanced offense, as five players have totaled between 330 and 360 kills this season … Sue Calligaris has hit .341 with 347 kills, 268 digs and 70 blocks this season.
Scouting the Cardinals: Ball State is 25-6 in 2000 and received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament … this is the second consecutive and sixth appearance overall for the Cardinals … BSU’s Megan Hammons has totaled 551 kills (5.01 per game) in 2000, while setter Emily Sallee averages 14.17 assists per game … Ball State was 14-0 at home this season.
USC Recap: Notre Dame dropped a hard-fought match at #3 USC (25-2) Friday night (Nov. 24), at the Lyon Center in Los Angeles, Calif. The Irish built a 2-1 advantage in the match but were unable to hold the lead and lost in five games (15-5, 17-15, 17-15, 7-15, 11-15). Christi Girton led the Irish with 22 kills and 16 digs while juniors Kristy Kreher and Malinda Goralski (Missouri City, Texas) added 18 and 16 kills, respectively.
USC profited by a series of runs in the first game, building an 8-2 lead that the Irish were unable to overcome. Three straight Trojan kills led to a 15-5 game one victory and Notre Dame faced a 0-1 deficit in the match.
The Irish were able to settle down and run their offense in the second game as both teams battled back and forth. Notre Dame built a 10-7 lead on the strength of three kills from Girton (who recorded seven in the game) and Kreher. Freshman Kim Fletcher was inserted into the lineup by head coach Debbie Brown and provided the additional spark the Irish were looking for.
Notre Dame built a 14-10 lead, but the Trojans fought off four game points and jumped to a 15-14 advantage.
Goralski, who usually does not serve for the Irish, stepped back after a Kreher kill and recorded her first ace of the season to draw the game even. Kreher followed up with a kill on a backset from Irish setter Denise Boylan to give the Irish a 16-15 lead. Fletcher then scored a solo block on game point to earn the victory for the Irish and draw the match even at 1-1. Fletcher would post a career-best 10 kills in the match.
Notre Dame was able to maintain the momentum into the second game, building an 8-3 lead behind two kills from Girton and a burst of energy from Adrienne Shimmel (Mission Viejo, Calif.), who also scored two kills, and would total six in the match.
USC rallied with two consecutive blocks and two kills to tie the game 9-9. The Trojans continued the point string and pulled into the lead 13-11 after two Irish hitting errors. Notre Dame fought back behind two kills from co-captains Boylan and Girton to knot game three at 13-13.
The Women of Troy quickly responded with two points and had a game point opportunity, but the Irish would not be denied. Fletcher smacked an ace, followed by a Girton power-kill to push Notre Dame to game point. The Irish would take advantage of the opportunity, as Boylan and Kreher combined for a block to put the Irish ahead 2-1 in the match.
The Trojans came out hot in the fourth game, building an 8-3 lead that Notre Dame was unable to recover from. The classic match would be destined for a fifth game under rally scoring rules as USC claimed a 15-7 victory in game four.
Game five typified the entire match as both teams fought back and forth with neither earning more than a three point advantage until USC jumped ahead 13-9. Notre Dame tried to mount a comeback behind four kills from Girton and Goralski, but the rally fell short and the Trojans earned the match victory 3-2.
Notre Dame Earns Numerous Awards at the BIG EAST Awards Banquet: Notre Dame earned a number of honors at the 2000 BIG EAST awards banquet in South Bend, Ind., Friday (Nov.17) evening. The banquet preceded the BIG EAST Volleyball Championship, which was held at the Joyce Center on Notre Dame’s campus.
Debbie Brown earned her second Coach of the Year award and her first since 1995. Brown has led the Irish to a 25-5 record and their fifth BIG EAST Championship in 2000. Notre Dame also posted an 11-0 record in BIG EAST competition earning its fifth conference regular season title in six years.
In her 10th year with the Irish, Brown has guided the team to victories over #13 BYU and #22 Loyola Marymount this season. Notre Dame also compiled an 11-match winning streak (tied for third-best in school history) and have been ranked first in the NCAA Northeast Region the entire year.
Senior setter and co-captain Denise Boylan became the fourth Irish player to earn the BIG EAST player of the year award. Boylan set the Irish to a .286 hitting percentage in 2000, a mark that is ranked eighth in the nation (as of Nov. 19). She also led the league in assists per game (13.80) and helped the team hit a conference-best .288 this season. Boylan was the pre-season player of the year, named setter of the year at the banquet, and is a two-time all-BIG EAST first team selection.
Fellow co-captain and senior Christi Girton was named to the all-BIG EAST first team. Girton was named player of the week in the conference twice in 2000 and leads the Irish in kills with 418. The Irish starting outside hitter is riding a 10-match streak where she has posted double-digit kills entering the 2000 NCAA Tournament.
Junior opposite Kristy Kreher joined Boylan and Girton on the all-BIG EAST first team. Kreher has six 20-plus kill matches this season, four of which came versus ranked teams. She set the Notre Dame record for kills in four-game match this season with 32 versus Loyola Marymount and boasts a .345 hitting percentage on the year.
Notre Dame’s other starting outside hitter, junior Marcie Bomhack, earned second-team all-BIG EAST honors. Bomhack was named BIG EAST player of the week on Nov. 6, is second on the team in digs with 244, and posted career-highs in aces (five vs. Florida A&M) and digs (25 vs. Loyola Marymount) this season.
Rounding out the awards for Notre Dame on the night was freshman middle blocker Kim Fletcher, who earned all-rookie team honors. Fletcher has 76 kills on the season and posted a .636 hitting percentage (8 kills -1 error -11 attempts) in a key Irish conference victory at Pittsburgh on Oct. 8.
A Record-Setting Season: The Notre Dame team and its players have compiled a stirring list of accomplishments this season. The following is a list of team statistics and where they rank in the program’s history: The .806 winning percentage this season (25-6) ranks third … the .800 winning percentage on the road (8-2) ranks second … the 18 3-0 match victories ranks sixth … the 17.4 kills per game ranks first … the .286 team hitting percentage ranks first … the 11-match win streak (Oct. 20 to Nov. 7) is the third best, and the longest since ’97.
Marcie Bomhack named BIG EAST Player of the Week: Junior outside hitter Marcie Bomhack was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week on Monday, Nov. 6, for her performance in three Notre Dame victories.
Bomhack was instrumental in the three Irish sweeps over Boston College, North Carolina and Providence, pushing the Notre Dame 2000 season record to 21-5 and 10-0 in the BIG EAST Conference. She hit .540 in the three matches with 36 kills (5.1 per game), 23 digs (3.2 per game) and seven blocks (1.0 per game).
Against BC on Friday, Nov. 3, Bomhack had six kills while playing just two games on .417 hitting. She also had a team-high nine digs in the contest.
Sat., Nov. 4, she posted 16 kills on .483 hitting against non-conference opponent North Carolina. She also had five blocks and five digs in the contest, including a game-winning solo block to score the deciding point of the second game to give the Irish a 2-0 lead in the match.
Taking on Providence on Sun., Nov. 5, she continued her hot hitting with 14 kills on 20 attempts without committing and error, while also having five digs, an ace and a block.
Bomhack becomes the third Irish player to earn player of the week accolades from the BIG EAST. Senior setter Denise Boylan earned the honor on Sept. 4 and senior outside hitter Christi Girton was a double-award winner on Sept. 25 and Oct. 2.
Boylan One of the Best: Notre Dame’s starting setter Denise Boylan has compiled the best season of her stellar career in 2000. Averaging 13.81 assists per game, the Irish offensive catalyst has increased her career assists per game mark to 12.33 – the best in Notre Dame volleyball history.
Named the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year, Boylan asserted herself the first weekend of the season, capturing BIG EAST Player of the Week honors after leading the Irish to two victories in the Shamrock Invitational.
Among the victories the Irish posted in the Shamrock Invitational was a come-from-behind five-game win over #15 BYU. Boylan tallied 50 assists, 10 digs and three blocks in the match and helped the Irish hit .421 in the deciding fifth game.
Continuing the steady play throughout the season, she was named to three all-tournament teams (Shamrock, adidas, and Lady Seminole Classic) and broke the school record for assists in a four-game match twice (most recently at Pittsburgh with 86 assists).
Boylan’s outstanding play for the year earned her the BIG EAST Player of the Year, Setter of the Year and Championship Most Outstanding Player awards.
Kreher Asserting Herself: Junior opposite Kristy Kreher has asserted herself as one of the top players in the BIG EAST conference and the nation in 2000. The Birmingham, Mich., native is first on the team in digs (250), second on the team in kills (407) and attack attempts (838) while posting a .342 hitting percentage.
Kreher has six 20-plus kill matches this season, four of which came versus ranked teams (23 vs. #15 BYU, 21 vs. #16 Michigan State, 32 vs. #22 Loyola Marymount, 22 at Pittsburgh and 21 at Connecticut). She ranked second (behind teammate Malinda Goralski) in the BIG EAST hitting percentage (.345) and sixth kills per game (4.27).
The numbers keep stacking up for the Irish power hitter. Her 32 kills against in the four-game match vs. #22 Loyola Marymount set a school record and she also posted a career-best 27 digs in the contest. In 18 of 30 matches this season, she has posted a hitting percentage over .320, including a .565 mark at Michigan, a .579 mark at West Virginia and a .591 mark versus Saint Louis.
Girton On a Hot Streak: Outside Hitter Christi Girton has smacked double-digit kills in 22 of the team’s 31 matches in 2000. She is also riding a 10-match streak of posting double-digit kills, dating back to the Oct. 28 match at St. John’s. That streak ranks among the top 10 of all time (Angie Harris posted 17 straight matches with double-digit kills in ’97).
Girton ranked fifth in the BIG EAST in kills per game (4.40) and posted 22 kills at #3 USC.
Girton Named Co-BIG EAST Player of the Week Two Consecutive Times In 2000: For the second time in as many weeks on Oct. 2, Christi Girton was named Co-BIG EAST Player of the Week. She led the team in kills in both BIG EAST match victories over the weekend of Sept. 29, to Oct. 1. Against Villanova, Girton had eight kills on 10 attempts with one error (.700), playing in just two games against the Wildcats. She also led the Irish in kills with 16 against Georgetown, adding nine digs and four blocks. Girton ended up hitting .354 in the two matches this week with 24 total kills (4.8 per game).
Girton had previously been named the Co-BIG EAST Player of the Week for her performance against Loyola Marymount, Wyoming and Colorado State, Sept. 21-23. In the three matches that week, Girton tallied 49 kills (5.44 per game), 34 digs (3.77 per game) and a .318 hitting percentage. She notched 23 kills in Notre Dame’s upset win over #22 Loyola Marymount. In the Irish sweep of Wyoming, she played in only two games recording 10 kills and five digs. She also earned a spot on the Golden Dome Invitational All-Tournament Team with her solid play.
Head Coach Debbie Brown: In her 10th season as head coach with the Irish, Debbie Brown has led the Notre Dame volleyball team to victory in nearly 75 percent of its matches, going 250-86 (.746) since she joined the program in 1991. That success came after six years as head coach at Arizona State (1983-88), giving her a 366-169 record over 15 seasons.
Brown has coached teams that have qualified for the NCAA tournament 14 times and have won 10 conference championships. The Irish have won five of six regular-season conference and championship titles since they began BIG EAST play in 1995. Notre Dame’s NCAA berth this season (due to the Irish victory in the BIG EAST Championship) provides Brown her 14th consecutive post-season coaching opportunity.
Milestone: With her 16-kill effort against Georgetown on Oct. 1, senior Christi Girton surpassed the 1,000-kill plateau for her career. Girton currently has 1,257 career kills. She becomes the 11th Irish player to surpass 1,000 kills in a career.
The Muncie, Ind., native also has two matches this season where she has posted 30 or more kills. She set a career-mark with 30 kills at Pittsburgh, then broke the record two weeks later at Connecticut with 31 kills.
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. In 27 matches this season, she has a .342 percentage (407 kills, 120 errors on 838 attempts). Her career numbers updated for this season provides Kreher a .316 career-hitting mark – the best in Notre Dame history.
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. Girton boasts a .275 percentage in 2000 (418 kills, 158 errors on 947 attempts).
A Highly-Rated Group of Freshmen: The class of 2004 that features Kim Fletcher, Jessica Kinder, Kristen Kinder (Fresno, Calif.), Katie Neff 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.
Freshmen Contribute Throughout the Season: The 2000 freshmen class has made some significant contributions throughout the 2000 season and have helped the Irish clinch the BIG EAST regular season title with an 11-0 conference record. Kim Fletcher ranks seventh on the team in kills with 86 and also has 39 blocks and 36 digs. Kristen Kinder has relieved starting setter Denise Boylan in 20 games this year and posted 142 assists (7.10 per game) with 39 digs and 18 kills.
Jessica Kinder possesses and imposing jump serve that has scored 12 aces this season. She also has 43 kills and 66 digs.
Katie Neff has seen her playing time and contribution rise in the past few weeks. Neff has played in 18 games and recorded 23 blocks (1.28 per game) while also tallying 25 kills.
A Record Number of Home Matches: The Irish played 19 matches in the Joyce Center this season, which is a school record (Notre Dame posted a 15-4 (.789) record in those matches). Notre Dame played 18 matches in the Joyce Center 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 competed against hometown Saint Louis University when the Billikens visited the Joyce Center Nov. 7. Neff posted two kills an an ace in the match, while Fletcher had five kills and a block.
The Kinders, who call Fresno, Calif., home, will get to return to the west coast when the Irish travel to USC this weekend (Nov. 24).
California Dreaming: When the Irish travel to Los Angeles, Calif., this weekend for their final regular season matchup 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 Representation: Texas 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.
Shimmel Off the Bench: Senior OH Adrienne Shimmel has provided quite a boost off the bench for the Irish this season. She set career-highs in kills (nine) and attack attempts (20) on Senior Night (vs. Saint Louis, Nov. 7). She also set a personal-best for blocks (three) in the Irish victory over Samford.
Shimmel’s 46 kills on the season has eclipsed her career total of 17 entering the 2000 campaign.
Toughest Schedule? Notre Dame has faced one of the toughest schedules in the nation this year. According to the AVCA/USA Today Nov. 20, rankings, the Irish faced three of the top teams in the nation, #1 Nebraska, #6 Colorado State and #2 USC this season.
Six teams in the top 25 appear on the Notre Dame schedule this season. The Irish have knocked off #15 BYU (now ranked 12th) and #22 Loyola Marymount.
Goralski Patrols the Net: The loss of 1999 BIG EAST Player of the Year and middle blocker Mary Leffers to graduation has been eased by the steady play of junior Malinda Goralski. Through 28 matches in 2000, Goralski has surpassed her career totals over the last two years combined:
1998-99: Kills Blocks Hitting Percentage Games Played 110 77 .271 91 2000: Kills Blocks Hitting Percentage Games Played 271 141 .382 97
The Missouri, Texas, native had a then-career high 15 kills in the five-game loss to #16 Michigan State on September 10. She matched that number of kills in the Irish upset of #22 Loyola Marymount.
Goralski, who led the BIG EAST in hitting percentage (with a .386 mark) and blocks per game (1.48), followed her performance against LMU with a 10-kill match against Wyoming. She totaled those 10 kills on 12 attempts without committing an error for an amazing .833 hitting percentage. She also turned in a very impressive performance in the BIG EAST Championship, posting 33 kills and 18 blocks in six games. Her 11 blocks vs. Connecticut was a career-best.
As of the Nov. 19, NCAA statistical rankings, Goralski was ranked 16th in the counrty in hitting percentage with a .386 mark.
AVCA Poll History: Since Debbie Brown took over the program in 1991, Notre Dame has made numerous appearances in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll. Notre Dame’s first ranking came in the preseason poll of 1992. Notre Dame’s highest ranking was seventh on Oct. 10, 1995, after an Irish eight-match win streak. The highest final ranking was 12th in 1994, when the Irish advanced to the final 16 teams in the NCAA tournament. Notre Dame is currently ranked 20th in the poll.