Nov. 13, 2001
Notre Dame Volleyball Release
#23 Notre Dame vs. Illnois State, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m.
WHME-TV, Channel 46 Broadcast, Channel 11 Cable
Match will be shown on tape delay at 11 p.m.
Play-by-play: Bob Nagle * Color: Liz Muir
Irish will face Illinois State in final home match of the season:
The 2001 BIG EAST Regular-Season Champion University of Notre Dame volleyball team (18-5) will wrap up its home schedule on Senior Appreciation Night at the Joyce Center when the Irish take on Missouri Valley Conference member Illinois State (14-11, 10-6) Wednesday evening. The match against the Redbirds will be the final home contest for seniors Marcie Bomhack, Malinda Goralski and Kristy Kreher.
Notre Dame – Illinois State contest will be televised locally: The Notre Dame – Illinois State match will be shown locally on WHME-TV (broadcast channel 46, cable channel 11) on a tape delay basis at 11 p.m. Wednesday night. Bob Nagle will provide the play-by-play while Liz Muir will be the color commentator.
Notre Dame vs. Illinois State series history:
The Irish and the Redbirds will continue their competitive rivalry for the 14th time … Notre Dame holds a 7-6 advantage in the series, including last season’s 15-5, 15-11, 15-11 victory in Normal, Ill. … one of the longest running non-conference series in Irish volleyball history, Notre Dame and Illinois State have played every season since 1996 … ISU ranked sixth in the country in home attendance last season (2,286), including 2,074 at last season’s Irish-Redbird matchup … Notre Dame is 4-2 against Illinois State at the Joyce Center.
A look at the Redbirds:
Illinois State is 14-11 overall and 10-6 in Missouri Valley Conference play this season … they are currently fifth in the MVC standings … ISU is coming off a three-game loss to Southwest Missouri State on Nov. 10 … the Redbirds have three players who have recorded over 200 kills this season (Megan O’Connell, Erin Jones and Jenny Kabbes), while Kabbes leads the group in hitting with a .256 mark … Kabbes also is solid at the net, blocking 1.29 shots per game … Becky Weber is the Illinois State setter this season, averaging 9.73 assists per game and 3.09 digs per game … the Redbirds are 4-7 in road matches this season.
Home win streak:
As the Irish have battled through a tough road schedule this season, they also have extended their home-court win streak to 19 matches. Notre Dame’s last loss on the Joyce Center court was to seventh-ranked Colorado State on Sept. 23, 2000.
The 19-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.
Kinder earns first career BIG EAST weekly honor:
Sophomore setter Kristen Kinder was named Co-BIG EAST Player of the Week by the conference office on Monday, Nov. 12, after leading the Irish through two conference victories last weekend and securing Notre Dame’s sixth BIG EAST regular-season title with a perfect 12-0 league mark in 2001.
Kinder played a large part in Notre Dame’s two three-game victories over St. John’s and Seton Hall last weekend. She set the team to a .321 hitting mark against the Pirates on Sunday and a .400 mark against the Red Storm on Friday. She amassed 81 assists in the two victories (13.50 per game) while also making contributions in every statistical category. For the week she averaged 1.17 kills per game (seven total), 1.67 digs per game (10 total) and 1.00 blocks per game (six total).
Kinder shares the weekly award with Pittsburgh’s Wendy Hatlestad.
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 has also 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 81-3 (.964) record against conference teams since it entered the league in 1995.
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 conference history with its victories over St. John’s and Seton Hall last weekend.
In 2002, the University of Miami will begin BIG EAST volleyball competition.
2001 BIG EAST Championship pairings announced:
The conference office has announced the pairings and start times for the 2001 BIG EAST Championship, hosted by the University of Pittsburgh in Fitzgerald Fieldhouse on Nov. 17 and 18.
Notre Dame will enter the two-day tournament with the #1 seed and face #4 Connecticut (21-6) at 1 p.m., on Saturday, Nov. 17. Second-seeded Rutgers (16-5) and #3 Georgetown (17-7) will meet in the other semifinal on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
The winners of both semifinal matches will decide the BIG EAST Championship on Sunday, Nov. 18, at noon.
Final home match for Bomhack, Goralski and Kreher:
Notre Dame will honor its three senior players before the match against Illinois State on Wednesday, Nov. 14. Marcie Bomhack, Malinda Goralski and Kristy Kreher will be playing their last match in the Joyce Center vs. the Redbirds. The three front line players have combined for over 2,700 kills, 1,500 digs and 950 blocks in their career. They have helped the team earn three BIG EAST regular-season championships and three BIG EAST Championship titles during their careers as well.
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 nine consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and five 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.
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 Wednesday’s match with Illinois State with 287 team blocks. As of Nov. 4, 2001, the Irish were ranked fifth in the nation in blocks per game (3.52).
In its 23 matches this season, Notre Dame has failed to reach double-digit blocks just seven times (posting nine blocks in four 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 3.63).
Goralski leads BIG EAST:
Senior middle blocker Malinda Goralski ended the BIG EAST regular season at the top of two statistical categories in the conference rankings (as of Nov. 12). The Missouri City, Texas, native leads all league players in blocks per game with 1.77 (140 total). She also is ranked second in hitting percentage (.372) and plays a major role in Notre Dame’s top team ranking in blocks per game (3.63).
In the latest NCAA statistical rankings (Nov. 4), Goralski was ranked eighth in blocks per game (1.70) and tied for 25th in hitting percentage (.382).
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 20 out of 23 matches this season, including 10 double-digit dig matches.
She was all over the court against #15 Pepperdine on Sept. 9, digging a career-high 19 balls. She has continued that form lately as well, recording 17 digs at West Virginia, nine against Georgetown, 12 at Toledo, 13 vs. Rutgers and 12 at Providence.
Alderete currently leads the team in digs per game with a 2.78 average (220 total).
Not just a defensive threat, Alderete is second on the team with 22 aces this season and recorded a career-high four against Virginia Tech on Sept. 28.
Kreher hitting hard and accurate:
Senior opposite Kristy Kreher, the Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year and two-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 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.
Kreher currently leads the team in kills this season (262) and boasts a .296 hitting percentage. Her career hitting mark of .315 ranks as the second-best in Irish volleyball history.
Kristen Kinder takes advantage of starting opportunity:
Heading into the 2001 season, the starting setter was clearly one of the more pivotal positions on the team. After the graduation of four-year starter Denise Boylan, the reigns of the Irish offense were handed to sophomore Kristen Kinder.
The second-year player from Fresno, Calif., has responded. Leading the team to a .263 hitting percentage 23 matches into the season, Kinder has turned a possible team weakness into a team strength.
Shrugging off a lack of playing time in 2000, Kinder has helped the Irish lead the conference in hitting and is a presence across the boxscore after every match. She is first on the team in aces with 29 (recording a career-best five against Kentucky on Tuesday, Oct. 23), second in digs with 188 and has collected 44 blocks (including eight solo). Her assist average is third in the BIG EAST Conference at 11.89 (as of Nov. 12) and she also has shown the ability to provide a kill when needed – knocking down 78 shots this season (0.99 per game).
Countdown to 1,000:
Senior co-captain Marcie Bomhack, who will be playing her final home match on Wednesday against Illinois State, need just 34 more kills this season to reach the 1,000 career kills barrier.
Jessica Kinder provides a spark off the bench:
The most powerful hitter on the team, Jessica Kinder has recently played a major role in the Irish offensive success.
Often subbing into the game in crucial situations to serve, the sophomore outside hitter utilizes a powerful jump serve to keep the opposing team’s reception off-balance and upset the entire offensive flow.
She was at her best against Villanova, helping the Irish score nine consecutive points on her serve. She would end up posting the best numbers in a match of her young career, scoring a personal-best five aces, also while posting five kills on five swings and five digs.
Kinder also played a crucial role in Notre Dame’s victory over Seton Hall on Sunday, Nov. 11, with two kills and an ace during a key stretch of game three to close out the win for the Irish.
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 15 road matches, a number that could increase if the Irish qualify 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 7-5 on the road, with four of the five losses to ranked teams (#1 Nebraska, #7 UCLA, #15 Pepperdine, #16 Northern Iowa).
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 will face 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 Nov. 24. The Irish have already faced #1 Nebraska, #7 UCLA, #15 Pepperdine and #16 Northern Iowa this season.
A number of Irish players have posted career-bests during the 2001 season. Malinda Goralski tied her career high in both kills (18) and blocks (11) vs. Southwest Texas and Idaho, respectively. She matched her career high in blocks at Kentucky on Oct. 23.
Kim Fletcher posted two career-bests while achieving her first career double-double with 14 kills and 10 digs against Idaho. Fletcher also posted a personal-best nine blocks against Georgetown. Freshman Emily Loomis also posted 14 kills vs. the Vandals, for a personal-best total of her young career.
Junior DS Janie Alderete set a new career mark with 19 digs against #15 Pepperdine on Sept. 9, while sophomore DS Christa Moen posted a personal-best 10 digs at Boston College.
Sophomore OH Jessica Kinder has also excelled in the back row recently, digging a career-best 10 attempts at Connecticut and a career high seven kills at Providence. Kristen Kinder recently joined the career-best category after serving five aces at Kentucky on Oct. 23.
NCAA Championship selections pushed back:
Due to the tragic events Sept. 11, the NCAA Executive Committee directed NCAA committees to make appropriate accommodations, such as extending playing seasons, altering schedules and adjusting criteria for championship selection for institutions that chose not to play during the last few days.
The Division I Women’s Volleyball Committee voted to move the championship selection announcement from Sunday, Nov. 25, to Monday, Nov. 26, in order to allow greater flexibility for member institutions to reschedule contests that may have been postponed due to world events. The championship dates of competition will not be adjusted.
Additionally, the committee further emphasized its existing policy of preferred first- and second-round competition dates of Friday/Saturday as first choice, Saturday/Sunday as second choice and Thursday/Friday as third choice.