Aug. 12, 2002

The 2002 University of Notre Dame volleyball team arrived on campus to begin its preseason workout program on Thursday, Aug. 8. Ten returning veterans have combined with six members of the freshman class to provide head coach Debbie Brown with one of her deepest teams since she took over the Irish program in 1991.

“I think the competitive level will be higher this year,” Brown says.

“We will be versatile and we have several players that can play in different positions and give us different looks. Our depth and the competitive level, the way the players are going to push each other in the gym, is going to be very good.”

After a weekend of two-a-day workouts, the freshman group of Lauren Brewster, Kelly Burrell, Carolyn Cooper, Meg Henican, Lauren Kelbley and Lindsay Peterson have already made a name for themselves.

Volleyball Magazine’s fifth-rated recruiting class, and Student Sports Magazine’s third-rated group, each have the ability to step onto the court for the Irish this season. Notre Dame’s class ranked ahead of traditional powers Stanford, Florida, Hawaii and UCLA.

“The Irish loaded up on tall, talented athletes,” Volleyball Magazine writes.

“In addition to two Fab 50s (#26 Meg Henican and #36 Lauren Brewster), 6-3 middle Carolyn Cooper, 5-11 setter Kelly Burrell, and 6-1 middle Lauren Kelbley are headed for South Bend.”

The ‘Fab 50,’ Volleyball Magazine’s rating of the top 50 recruits in the nation, is one of the premier rankings of incoming freshmen. The list is ranked first through 50 in order of the impact they are expected to make in college volleyball during the next four years. Former Irish standouts Marilyn Cragin, Jaimie Lee and Mary Leffers, along with current players Emily Loomis ,Kelly Corbett, Kim Fletcher and Kristen Kinder have been listed among the ‘Fab 50.’ Henican (ranked 26th) and Brewster (ranked 36th) represent the list for this year’s freshmen group.

Brown and her staff reached across the nation for their six incoming freshmen. Brewster is from Brentwood, Tenn., Burrell hails from Phoenix, Ariz., Cooper calls Houston, Texas, her hometown, Henican is from New Orleans, Kelbley is from Bascom, Ohio, and Peterson is from Mt. Carroll, Ill.

The 2002 Notre Dame volleyball season begins at home on Aug. 30, when the Irish host Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the second game of the Shamrock Classic at 7 p.m.