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Volleyball Ready For Challenge Of #20 Michigan State In NCAA First Round Matchup

Nov. 28, 2001

Complete NCAA notes package including NCAA tournament history, player profiles and statistical breakdowns
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Notre Dame Volleyball Release

2001 NCAA Volleyball Championship

Wisconsin Field House, Madison, Wis.

Thursday, Nov. 29

Press Conference, Reinke Room, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 30

#25 Notre Dame vs. #20 Michigan State, 5 p.m.

#6 Wisconsin vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 1

Winner game one vs. Winner game two, 7 p.m.

Live coverage this weekend:

All of this weekend’s matches during the first and second round of the 2001 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship in Madison, Wis., will be available via live stats on the University of Wisconsin official athletic website at:

Irish will make 10th consecutive NCAA appearance in Madison, Wis.:

The 2001 BIG EAST Champion University of Notre Dame volleyball team (22-6) will travel to Madison, Wis., this weekend for the first and second rounds of the 2001 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship. The 25th-ranked Irish will meet #20 Michigan State at 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 30. The Irish-Spartans matchup is perhaps the marquee match of the first round in the tournament this season – as the two teams are the only ranked squads to face off in the first round.

Notre Dame vs. Michigan State series history:

The Irish and the Spartans will be meeting for the ninth time … MSU holds a 5-3 edge in the series … the teams met in the Joyce Center for the adidas Invitational last season, a 3-2 Michigan State victory … Kristy Kreher led Notre Dame with 21 kills (on .363 hitting), while Malinda Goralski added 15 kills … Marcie Bomhack had a double-double with 13 kills and 15 digs … Erin Hartley had 15 kills for the Spartans … MSU was able to hit .310 in the match and hold the Irish to a .264 mark … both teams had 12 blocks in the match … the Spatans currently enjoy a three-game win streak over the Irish.

A look at the Spartans:

Michigan State enters the 2001 NCAA Tournament with a 20-7 overall record … Erin Hartley returns as the top Sparatan offensive threat, averaging 4.00 kills per game on .335 hitting … Nikki Colson is the MSU setter, averaging 13.10 assists per game.

Coaching Connection:

Notre Dame head coach Debbie Brown and Michigan State head man Chuck Erbe have a deep connection – other than just coaching two of the top teams in the nation. Erbe was at the helm of the USC Trojans when Irish head coach Debbie Brown served as USC team captain from 1976-77.

Erbe guided Brown and her teammates to a 38-0 run in 1977 that stood as the only undefeated Division I women’s volleyball season until Long Beach State went 42-0 in 1998.

Since Brown took over at Notre Dame in 1991 and Erbe moved to Michigan State in 1993, the Irish and Spartans have met four times. Brown helped the Irish take the first meeting in 1994, but Erbe and his team have captured the last three meetings in ’94, ’98 and ’00.

Notre Dame vs. the Big Ten in NCAA competition:

The Irish are no stranger to Big Ten competition in the NCAA Championship. In its 10 previous years of NCAA tourney competition, Notre Dame has faced a Big Ten team 10 times, winning two of the matchups in 1988 (vs. #20 Penn State) and 1993 (vs. Minnesota at Minnesota).

Last time in Madison:

In 1997, Notre Dame posted two victories in Fayetteville, Ark., during the first two rounds of the NCAA Championship and advanced to face #4 Wisconsin in Madison. Notre Dame was able to take the first game of the match 15-9, but the Badgers won three in a row to advance to the Final Eight with a four-game victory.

Notre Dame – 2001 BIG EAST Champions:

Notre Dame won its sixth BIG EAST Championship title in seven years with a sweep of Connecticut on Saturday, Nov. 17, and a five-game victory over Georgetown in the championship match on Sunday, Nov. 18.

Notre Dame improved its record to 14-1 (.933) in BIG EAST Championship competition.

Malinda Goralski named BIG EAST Player of the Year and Championship Most Outstanding Player:

Notre Dame senior middle blocker Malinda Goralski was named the 2001 BIG EAST Player of the Year at the conference awards banquet on Friday, Nov. 16, and followed up by capturing the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player Award after leading the Irish to the team title over the weekend.

Goralski averaged 3.25 kills per game in the BIG EAST tournament, hitting .480 and averaging a block per game.

Kristen Kinder nabs Notre Dame’s second consecutive BIG EAST Setter of the Year award:

Sophomore setter Kristen Kinder was named the 2001 BIG EAST Setter of the Year at the conference awards banquet on Friday, Nov. 16, after leading the Irish to a .260 team hitting percentage this season in her first year as the team’s full-time setter. Kinder follows in the steps of 2000 setter of the year and ’00 graduate Denise Boylan, who earned the first conference setter award last year.

Kinder surpassed the 1,000 assist barrier during the BIG EAST Championship last weekend and is a fixture across the Irish boxscore in each match. Currently, she is averaging 11.89 assists per game, 0.97 kills, 0.37 aces (a team-high total of 37), 2.37 digs and 0.57 blocks.

Kinder’s current season assist average of 11.89 is seventh on the all-time single season list and she has moved into 10th for single-season assists (1177).

Goralski and Kinder named to all-tournament team:

Notre Dame’s Malinda Goralski and Kristen Kinder were named to the University of Florida Volleyball Conference Challenge all-tournament team at the end of last weekend’s competition.

Goralski averaged 3.00 kills per game and hit .413 while blocking 10 attacks (1.43 per game).

Kinder averaged 1.43 kills per game and 12.43 assists while helping the team hit .274 in the two matches.

Kristy Kreher steps up in the NCAA Tournament:

If history is any indication, senior opposite Kristy Kreher should enjoy a great weekend in the first and second rounds of the 2001 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship in Madison, Wis., this weekend.

Kreher is one of Notre Dame’s all-time best performers in the post season. In 19 NCAA games played, Kreher is averaging 4.42 kills per game, hitting .434, posting 2.05 digs per game and 0.89 blocks per game.

She had recorded over 20 kills twice in five career NCAA matches (24 vs. Eastern Washington in ’98 and 24 vs. Ohio State in ’99) and also has hit over .500 in two NCAA matches (.541 vs. Eastern Washington in ’99 and .556 vs. Cincinnati in ’00).

Home win streak:

Notre Dame completed its 2001 home schedule on Wednesday, Nov. 14, with a five-game victory over Illinois State. The Irish will carry a 20-match home win streak into the 2002 season next fall. Notre Dame’s last loss on the Joyce Center floor was to #7 Colorado State on Sept. 23, 2000.

The 20-match home win streak ranks second on Notre Dame’s all-time charts behind the 27-match streak the team compiled through Sept. 25, 1993, to Sept. 2, 1995.

Notre Dame in BIG EAST volleyball competition:

Since the Irish joined the BIG EAST Conference in 1995, they have posted an exceptional 76-2 (.974) regular-season conference mark. Notre Dame also has won 34 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 43-0 at home in regular-season BIG EAST matches.

Include the BIG EAST Championship matches and Notre Dame has posted a 83-3 (.965) record against conference teams since it entered the league in 1995.

NCAA Tournament appearance streak:

Once Debbie Brown helped the Irish get a taste of NCAA Tournament competition for just the second time in Notre Dame history in 1992, the Irish have been a staple in the tournament for 10 straight years, including the 2001 tournament.

Irish first team to earn 12 conference victories:

With the entrance of Virginia Tech into the BIG EAST Conference for volleyball this season, the Irish became the first team to win 12 BIG EAST Conference volleyball matches in league history.

In 2002, the University of Miami will begin BIG EAST volleyball competition.

Debbie Brown named 2001 BIG EAST Coach of the Year:

Notre Dame head volleyball coach Debbie Brown was named the 2001 BIG EAST Coach of the Year at the conference awards banquet on Friday, Nov. 16. Brown led the Irish to the conference’s first 12 win season in 2001 (with the addition of Virginia Tech to the league schedule) and also has guided the Irish through a tremendously successful run since they joined the league in 1995.

Since that first year of BIG EAST competition, Notre Dame is 83-3 against its conference opponents, has won all 43 BIG EAST Conference home matches and captured six regular season titles and six championship titles in seven seasons.

This marks the third time (’95, ’00, ’01) that Brown has been named BIG EAST Coach of the Year and 11th time in her career she has received an annual coaching award in the 16-year head coaching career.

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 10 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and six 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.

Matches canceled:

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.

Irish step up their team blocking:

Notre Dame enters the 2001 NCAA Volleyball Championship with 350 team blocks. As of Nov. 18, 2001, the Irish were ranked fourth in the nation in blocks per game (3.39).

In its 28 matches this season, Notre Dame has failed to reach double-digit blocks just nine times (posting nine blocks in five of those matches). In one notable performance the team blocked 21 attempts versus Georgetown.

The school record for team block average per game is in reach for the Irish this season. The 1988 edition of the Fighting Irish averaged 3.57 blocks per game (Notre Dame is currently averaging 3.53 as of Nov. 20).

Goralski leads BIG EAST:

Senior middle blocker Malinda Goralski is currently ranked at the top of two statistical categories in the BIG EAST conference rankings (as of Nov. 26). The Missouri City, Texas, native leads all league players in blocks per game with 1.71 (159 total). She also is ranked first in hitting percentage (.387) and plays a major role in Notre Dame’s top team ranking in blocks per game (3.53).

In the latest NCAA statistical rankings (Nov. 18), Goralski was ranked sixth in blocks per game (1.73) and 19th in hitting percentage (.383).

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 five digs in 25 out of 28 matches this season, including 13 double-digit dig matches.

She was all over the court against Illinois State on Nov. 14, digging a career-best (and Notre Dame season high) 26 attacks.

Alderete currently leads the team in digs per game with a 2.88 average (285 total).

Not just a defensive threat, Alderete is second on the team with 29 aces this season and recorded a career-high four against Virginia Tech on Sept. 28.

Loomis emerges at BIG EAST Championship:

Freshman outside hitter Emily Loomis, who has been a fixture in the Irish starting lineup during her entire rookie season, stepped up to play a crucial role for the Irish in the BIG EAST Championship.

Recording a season and career high 19 kills in the championship match, Loomis made a number of outstanding shots down the line and through the Georgetown defense to help the team rally from a 2-1 deficit to win the match in five games.

In the tournament, Loomis was second on the team in kills (25, 3.13 per game), hit .278, had 19 digs (2.38 per game) and five blocks.

Loomis’ 19-kill, 10-dig effort vs. Georgetown gave the rookie her second double-double of the season (and second in three matches – after hitting 14 kills and 13 digs vs. Illinois State on Nov. 14).

The freshman’s hitting had been warming up entering the BIG EAST Championship and now, over the month of November, Loomis is averaging 3.00 kills per game, 2.13 digs per game, and 0.80 blocks per game.

Kreher hitting hard and accurate:

Senior opposite Kristy Kreher, the Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year and three-time league player of the week in 2001, has been posting some high kill numbers on accurate hitting for the Irish over the last few weeks.

The Birmingham, Mich., native, who recorded her 1,000th career kill earlier this season, recently set a career-best hitting mark with a .765 effort (13 kills, zero errors, 17 attempts) at Pittsburgh. She followed that performance up with a solid .421 effort against St. John’s on Friday, Nov. 9 and a 23-kill, 18-dig, nine-assist, five-block masterpiece vs. Illinois State on Nov. 14.

Kreher currently leads the team in kills (320) and boasts a .277 hitting percentage.

Career milestone:

Senior co-captain Marcie Bomhack reached the 1,000 kill barrier in the BIG EAST Championship match on Nov. 17. Bomhack now has 1,032 career kills.

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 16 road matches, a number that will increase even more as the Irish have qualified for the NCAA Championship. A key stretch of the Irish schedule began with the Oct. 17 match with #16 Northern Iowa, as Notre Dame played six consecutive road matches from Oct. 16, through Nov. 4, before returning to their home court on Nov. 9.

Notre Dame broke through for its first road victory of the season at Toledo on Tuesday, Oct. 2. The Irish are now 10-6 in matches away from the Joyce Center, with five of the six losses to ranked teams (#1 Nebraska, #7 UCLA, #15 Pepperdine, #16 Northern Iowa, #7 Florida).

Strong schedule:

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 faced five top 25 teams in 2001, including #7 Florida in the Gator’s Volleyball Conference Challenge at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex on last weekend. The Irish have also faced #1 Nebraska, #7 UCLA, #15 Pepperdine and #16 Northern Iowa this season.

Career marks biting the dust:

Throughout the 2001 season, a number of Irish players have either equalled, or surpassed, their career-best numbers in several categories.

Here is a breakdown of the career numbers achieved this season:

Malinda Goralski: matched her career-highs in kills (18) and blocks (11) four different times this season.

Janie Alderete: Career-best 26 digs vs. Illinois State, four aces at Saint Louis.

Kim Fletcher: has reached a career-best 14 kills four times this season, posted a personal-best 10 blocks vs. Georgetown in the BIG EAST Championship match, personal-best 10 digs vs. Idaho.

Kristen Kinder: career-best 17 digs and 65 assists vs. Illinois State.

Christa Moen: career-best 13 digs vs. Illinois State.

Jessica Kinder: five aces vs. Villanova, seven kills three times this season (including twice at last weekend’s Florida Volleyball Conference Challenge) and 10 digs twice.

Kristy Kreher: hitting percentage of .765 vs. Pittsburgh.

Notre Dame signs five for next year:

The University of Notre Dame volleyball team has announced the signings of five recruits for the 2002 season.

Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn.), Kelly Burrell (Pheonix, Ariz.), Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas), Meg Henican (New Orleans, La.) and Lauren Kelbley (Bascum, Ohio) have all signed letters of intent to enroll at Notre Dame in the fall of 2002 and will make up the volleyball class of 2006.

“We are very excited about this class,” head coach Debbie Brown says.

“Going into recruiting this year we thought we were going to give four scholarships. When the opportunity to sign this great class with five talented players presented itself, it was an opportunity we could not pass up.

“All five players will complement each other very well and will add valuable depth to our team next year. They are really going to help the competitive level of the team. I think this is one of the top five recruiting classes in the nation.”

Lauren Brewster played for Brentwood High School in Brentwood, Tenn., and helped the team earn four state titles during her prep career. A 6-3 middle blocker, she was named most valuable player of the state tournament in 2000 and 2001, leading Brentwood to an undefeated record during her junior and senior seasons. Brewster also earned the 2000 Tennessee mid-state player of the year award and was named the Gatorade Player of the Year from Tennessee in 2001.

Kelly Burrell is a 5-11 setter from Xavier College Prep in Pheonix, Ariz., and, like many of her classmates, has earned multiple state titles while playing in a successful high school program. A first-team all-regional selection in 2000 and 2001, Burrell will bring a strong court presence to the Irish roster next season.

Carolyn Cooper continues the tradition of outstanding middle blockers the Irish have landed from Texas. Current senior and all-star nominee Malinda Goralski and 2000 graduate Jo Jameyson were both from the same area of Texas as Cooper.

A 6-3 middle blocker, Cooper played for Lutheran South Academy in Houston, Texas, and was named the team MVP three times (1999-2001) while earning first-team all-state honors during those three seasons as well.

In an unusual twist, 5-11 outside hitter Meg Henican had the opportunity to earn five state championships during her prep career. Henican played at Newman High School in New Orleans, La., a kindergarten through 12th grade school, and started on the varsity team for five seasons – leading Newman to five consecutive state titles. She was a four-time AAU All-American and finished her high school career as the Gatorade Player of the Year from Louisiana in 2001.

Lauren Kelbley is a 6-1 middle blocker from Bascaum, Ohio, and played at Hopewell-Loudon High School. She helped the team to the four-straight Ohio Division IV state titles during her career while earning all-conference, all-district and all-state honors at the end of each season.

Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin series history:

If the Irish and the Badgers advance, it will be the sixth meeting between the two teams, with Wisconsin holding a 4-1 edge in the series … Notre Dame’s victory came in four games in 1987 at the Joyce Center … Notre Dame and Wisconsin have met once in the NCAA Championship, a four-game victory for the Badgers.

Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee series history:

If the Irish and Panthers advance, it will be the third meeting between the two teams … Notre Dame and Wisconsin-Milwaukee last met in 1994, a 3-0 Irish victory in MCC Conference competition … the Panthers win came in 1983.