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Volleyball Set To Play At #3 USC This Weekend

Nov. 22, 2000

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WHO: Notre Dame and USC.

WHAT: The final Irish regular season match.

WHERE: The Lion Center, Los Angeles, Calif.

WHEN: #19 Notre Dame at #3 USC, Friday, Nov. 24, 6:00 p.m.

Irish Head to the West Coast for Final Regular Season Match: The 2000 BIG EAST Champion and 19th-ranked Notre Dame volleyball team (25-5) heads to Los Angeles, Calif., this weekend to face #3 USC. It will be the final regular season match for the Irish, as they have already assured themselves a NCAA tournament berth by capturing the 2000 BIG EAST Championship last weekend (Nov. 18-19). The tournament seeds, pairings and sites will be announced Sunday, Nov. 26.

2000 BIG EAST Tournament Recap: Notre Dame swept through the 2000 BIG EAST Championship in impressive fashion, capturing two 3-0 wins over fourth-seeded Connecticut (15-10, 15-13, 15-6) and second-seeded Rutgers (15-8, 15-8, 15-10) last weekend in the Joyce Center. The championship marks the fifth title in six seasons of BIG EAST competition for the Irish, and Notre Dame now boasts a 12-1 (.923) record in conference championship competition.

BIG EAST Player and Setter of the Year Denise Boylan (Lisle, Ill.) earned yet another honor by being named the Championship Most Outstanding Player. In the championship final victory over Rutgers, the Irish co-captain posted 62 assists (20.6 per game) with 14 digs and an ace. For the weekend, Boylan had 117 assists (19.5 per game) with 23 digs, six kills, five blocks and three aces. Even more impressive than her individual numbers is the Irish hitting percentage in the two tournament matches that Boylan set. Notre Dame scored 145 kills, while committing just 35 errors on 328 attack attempts for a .335 hitting percentage.

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 Women of Troy: USC is 24-2 (16-2 in Pac-10) in 2000 and ranked third in the nation … the Women of Troy hold a 3-1 advantage in the series … the teams have not met since ’95, when the Irish earned a four-game victory in the Joyce Center … USC’s offensive leader in 2000 is April Ross (308 kills, 3.54 per game) … the Trojans are also hitting .308 as a team this year.

Irish Head Coach Debbie Brown Returns to USC: After graduating from El Segundo (Calif.) High School, Debbie Brown captained the USC to a 72-1 two-year record and national titles in 1976 and 1977, including a 38-0 run in ’77 that until 1998, when Long Beach State went 42-0 en route to the NCAA title, was the only unbeaten season in Division I women’s volleyball history.

Brown left USC prior to her junior year, accepting an invitation to train full-time with the U.S. national team. She captained the U.S. to fifth at the ’78 World Championship before earning a spot on the 1980 Olympic team (which never played due to the U.S. boycott).

Rutgers (BIG EAST Championship Final) Recap: Notre Dame will make its ninth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance after sweeping through the BIG EAST Championship last weekend in the Joyce Center. The Irish earned a 3-0 victory over Connecticut Saturday, Nov. 18, then earned the Championship title (Nov. 19) with a 3-0 sweep (15-8, 15-8, 15-10) over Rutgers (23-7).

Notre Dame, in similar fashion to its performance against UConn, used a balanced offensive attack to down the Scarlet Knights. Four Irish players scored double-digit kills in the match, led by Christi Girton’s (Muncie, Ind.) 16. Kristy Kreher (Birmingham, Mich.) and Malinda Goralski (Missouri City, Texas) both posted 15 kills a piece, while Marcie Bomhack (Waukesha, Wis.) added 13 kills. Girton, Kreher and Bomhack also posted double-doubles with 10, 11 and 18 digs, respectively.

“I am excited about the way the team is playing right now,” Irish head coach Debbie Brown said.

“I thought Connecticut and Rutgers played some very good matches against us, but we are playing at a very high level right now. When we set the goals for the year, this (BIG EAST Championship) was one of them. We are right were we wanted to be.”

The Irish offensive output was spearheaded by senior setter Denise Boylan. The BIG EAST Player of the Year, Setter of the Year, and now the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player, Boylan has been the offensive catalyst for the Irish all season.

“Denise has really provided some significant leadership for us,” Brown said.

“She excels at controlling the ebbs and flows of the team. Her on-court leadership all weekend was excellent, especially today. Denise would not allow the team to let up.”

The Irish will receive an automatic invitation to the 2000 NCAA Championship 64-team tournament as a result of their BIG EAST title.

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 is also riding an 11-match winning streak (tied for third-best in school history) heading into the final regular season match of the year at #3 USC this weekend. In addition, the Irish 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 .284 hitting percentage in 2000, a mark that is ranked eighth in the nation. 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 396. The Irish starting outside hitter is riding a nine-match streak where she has posted double-digit kills entering the match at USC this weekend.

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 240, 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 (St. Louis, Mo.), 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 .833 winning percentage this season (25-5) ranks second … the .888 winning percentage on the road ranks first … the 18 3-0 match victories ranks sixth … the 17.5 kills per game ranks first … the .288 team hitting percentage ranks first … the current 11-match win streak 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 13.80 assists per game, the Irish offensive catalyst has increased her career assists per game mark to 12.30 – 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 (244), second on the team in kills (389) and attack attempts (798) while posting a .345 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 ranks 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 21 of the team’s 30 matches in 2000. She is also riding a nine-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 has jumped to fifth in the BIG EAST in kills per game (4.40) during her streak.

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, Debbie Brown has led the Notre Dame volleyball team to victory in nearly 75 percent of its matches, going 250-85 (.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 366-168 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 1,234 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 .345 percentage (389 kills, 114 errors on 789 attempts). Her career numbers updated for this season provides Kreher a .318 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 .276 percentage in 2000 (396 kills, 152 errors on 885 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 76 and also has 36 blocks and 33 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 45 kills and 65 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 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 40 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 two of the top teams in the nation, #1 Nebraska and #6 Colorado State, in the month of September. The Irish will also meet current-#3 USC on Nov. 24, in Los Angeles.

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 #23 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 255 136 .386 92
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.

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 19th in the poll – the highest the Irish have climbed this season.

Dominance: In the past decade, only three BIG EAST schools have claimed the volleyball tournament crown. Pittsburgh dominated the late ’80s and early ’90s with seven straight titles, while Notre Dame won the next four, led by tournament Most Outstanding Players Angie Harris (’95), Lindsay Treadwell (’96), Jaimie Lee (’97) and Marcie Bomhack (’98). The Irish won their fifth championship title this year, ledy by Most Outstanding Player Denise Boylan. Providence (’83, ’85, `87) and Georgetown (`99) are the only other schools to have won a BIG EAST championship.

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. The victory over Rutgers on Friday, Oct. 20, was the 600th Notre Dame volleyball match. Of the 610 matches the Irish have played, they have been victorious in 432 of them for an impressive .700 winning percentage.