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Volleyball Set For Key Matchup With Pittsburgh Friday

Oct. 24, 2002

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Notre Dame (13-3, 4-0) vs. Pittsburgh (15-6, 5-1) Oct. 25, 7 p.m., Joyce Center Notre Dame vs. West Virginia, Oct. 27, 2 p.m., Joyce Center

Irish return from fall break trip with challenging BIG EAST Conference schedule ahead:

The University of Notre Dame volleyball team (15-5, 6-0) will return to BIG EAST Conference action this weekend, facing Pittsburgh on Friday, Oct. 25, and West Virginia on Sunday, Oct. 27. The Irish are 6-0 in league play this season and stand in first place of the conference standings. The Panthers are 5-1 in the BIG EAST and are third in the conference behind Notre Dame and Miami.

The Panthers have not played a match since Oct. 18, a five-game loss at Alabama-Birmingham. They are looking to catch Notre Dame fresh off its trip to Hawai’i earlier in the week. The Irish dropped two hard-fought matches to the second-ranked Rainbows and returned to campus late Wednesday afternoon. Notre Dame will need to shake off any jet lag to take on the rested Panthers Friday evening.

West Virginia enters Sunday’s match with an 8-13 overall record and 2-4 mark in BIG EAST play. The Mountaineers have won three of their last four matches, however, including a five-game victory at Ohio on Oct. 16. West Virginia will face Syracuse on Friday before making the trip to Notre Dame for Sunday’s match.

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.

Lauren Oake, former Bethel College (Ind.) head volleyball coach, will be filling in for play-by-play this weekend for Chris Masters.

Simply click on the “listen” link on the front page of Notre Dame’s official site,, for access to the live audio coverage.

Conference winning streak will be put on the line again against Pittsburgh Friday:

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.

Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh series notes:

The Irish and Panthers renew one of the most prolific series in Notre Dame volleyball history on Friday, as the two teams will be meeting for the 19th time … since a 1990 loss to #19 Pittsburgh, Notre Dame has won 14 straight matches against the Panthers and leads the all-time series 15-3 … a competitive series, only eight of the previous 18 matches have been decided in three games … Notre Dame enjoyed their best hitting match of the season against Pittsburgh in 2001, hitting .495 as a team (third-best all-time in a three-game match) … Kristen Kinder had 41 assists while leading the Irish to .500 hitting in the first and third game of the victory … Wendy Hatlestad has 23 kills and nine digs for the Panthers … Notre Dame is 7-1 against Pittsburgh in the Joyce Center.

Notre Dame vs. West Virginia series notes:

The Irish and Mountaineers will be meeting for the 10th time … West Virginia is one of just three BIG EAST Conference teams (Connecticut and Georgetown) to defeat the Irish since Notre Dame joined the conference in 1995 … West Virginia’s victory came in 1998 in the WVU Coliseum … Notre Dame leads the all-time series 8-1 … Emily Loomis helped the Irish to a three-game victory over West Virginia last season with 11 kills, six digs and two blocks … Becca Kosnac had six kills, four aces and three blocks for WVU … Notre Dame is 4-0 against West Virginia in the Joyce Center.

Notre Dame ranked first in the Northeast Region:

While the Irish have not yet broken back into the USA Today/AVCA top 25 rankings after placing 25th in the preseason poll this year, Notre Dame is ranked first in the Northeast Region, according to the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball committee.

The rankings were released on Oct. 22, and Notre Dame led the way with a 15-3 overall record and 6-0 mark in the BIG EAST. The regional rankings are a key consideration when the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball tournament pairings are announced. The winner of the BIG EAST Conference Championship will receive and automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Northeast Regional Ranking:

Oct. 22, 2002 (records are as of Oct. 20, conference record follows)

1. Notre Dame (15-3, 6-0)

2. Miami (17-2, 5-1)

3. Temple (16-5, 7-0)

4. American (15-6, 7-0)

5. Dayton (16-5, 5-2)

6. Pittsburgh (15-6, 5-1)

7. Georgetown (13-8, 4-2)

8. Xavier (14-8, 5-2)

9. Harvard (10-7, 5-0)

10. Virginia Tech (13-8, 5-1)

Notre Dame has already knocked off #7 Georgetown in three games this season. The Irish have yet to face #2 Miami, #6 Pittsburgh and #10 Virginia Tech.

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

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.

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.

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), fourth 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) and Katie Neff (1.05) in 10th. 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.

The Irish did not play last week before their two matches at #2 Hawai’i, so Notre Dame was still ranked first in the country for blocks (3.81) on Oct. 20. Entering the matches this weekend, Notre Dame’s block average is currently 3.70.

Freshman middle blocker Lauren Brewster has 85 total blocks this season, which ranks her 12th in the nation as of Oct. 20.

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). Entering this weekend’s matches against Pittsburgh and West Virginia, the Irish are 27th in the country (as of Oct. 20).

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 Pittsburgh, the Irish are averaging 3.70 blocks per game this season.

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 255 team blocks and have failed to post more than 10 team blocks in just three matches this season (vs. Colorado, at St. John’s, at Hawai’i-Oct. 22).

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 (68 blocks), Brewster (95), Kelbley (68) and Loomis (71) play a large role in Notre Dame’s 3.81 blocks-per-game average, which ranked first in the nation as of Oct. 20. The Irish are currently averaging 3.70 blocks per game and the new NCAA statistics will not be released until Oct. 28.

Brewster enjoying one of the top rookie seasons in Notre Dame volleyball history:

Freshman Lauren Brewster has been stacking up the blocks since she first stepped on the court against Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Aug. 30.

The rookie currently has 95 blocks (ranked 12th in the country as of Oct. 20), which puts her among the top six freshman at Notre Dame all-time in terms of blocks during their first season for the Irish:

Notre Dame freshman year block totals:

1. Mary Leffers, 160

2. Mary Kay Waller, 144

3. Jaimie Lee, 110

4. Jessica Fiebelkorn, 107

5. Molly Stark, 95

Lauren Brewster, 95

Brewster still has eight regular-season matches left this season (and more possible matches during the post season). Keeping to her average, even if the Irish play three games in each remaining match, Brewster would end up with 132 (37 more blocks).

Factor in any five-game matches and possible post season play for Notre dame, and Brewster could make a run at Leffer’s rookie season record.

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 291-98 (.748) 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.