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Volleyball Team Begins 2002 Season This Weekend With Shamrock Invitational

Aug. 28, 2002

The following release is available in PDF format by clicking here, it contains a full season schedule, additional statistical breakdowns and team roster information.
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2002 Shamrock Invitational

August 30

Cincinnati vs. Cal Poly, 4:30 p.m.

#25 Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 7 p.m.

August 31

Cal Poly vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 4:30 p.m.

#25 Notre Dame vs. Cincinnati, 7 p.m.

September 1

Wisconsin-Milwaukee vs. Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

Notre Dame vs. Cal Poly, 3:30 p.m.

2002 Shamrock Invitational set for this weekend:

The University of Notre Dame volleyball team (0-0) begins the 2002 season this weekend as it plays host to the 2002 Shamrock Invitational in the Joyce Center. Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Cincinnati and Cal Poly will visit campus this weekend, with the Irish looking to earn their fifth Shamrock Invitational tournament title.

Shamrock Invitational history:

The Shamrock Invitational will be taking place for the sixth straight year and eighth time overall at the Joyce Center … an early-season tradition for the Irish, 19 teams have visited Notre Dame for the event … five ranked teams, BYU (#13, ’00), New Mexico (#24, ’93), Wisconsin (#18, ’97), Colorado (#12, ’98) and Pacific (#6, ’99) have participated in the Shamrock Invitational … Notre Dame won the tournament last season with a four-game victory over Idaho … Notre Dame’s Kim Fletcher was named the tournament MVP … Notre Dame is 20-3 in the Shamrock all-time, the losses coming in three different tournaments to ranked opponents: Pacific (3-0) in ’99, Colorado (3-0) in ’98 and Wisconsin (3-1) in ’97 … Louisville is the only team to visit the Joyce Center for the Shamrock twice, losing to the Irish 3-0 last season and 3-1 in 1997 … Wisconsin-Milwaukee is making its first appearance in the Joyce Center since 1994, while Cal Poly and Notre Dame will be meeting for the first time.

Visiting coaches have ties to the Notre Dame program:

The Notre Dame volleyball program will welcome back two former members during the Shamrock Invitational this weekend. Kathy Litzau, the head coach of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, was formerly known as Kathy Cunningham before her marriage. A standout Irish player in the mid 80’s, Litzau ended her Notre Dame career with 928 kills, 936 digs and 256 blocks as a 5-11 outside hitter and is currently ranked seventh all-time in dig average (2.61). Litzau has been coaching at UWM for eight seasons (163-110).

Notre Dame also will get to see former assistant coach Steve Schlick lead his Cal Poly Mustangs this weekend. Schlick spent five seasons (1990-95) as the Notre Dame’s top assistant under head coach Debbie Brown. The Irish enjoyed a 143-37 record with Schlick on the staff, capturing four consecutive Midwest Collegiate Conference championships, and, in Schlick’s final year, a BIG EAST Conference title. Notre Dame advanced to the NCAA Tournament in Schlick’s final four years at the school, twice reaching the Sweet 16 and going all the way to the Final Eight in 1993. In 1991, the Irish finished as the runner-up in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship.

Shamrock Invitational Promotions:

The University of Notre Dame promotions department has big plans for the weekend tournament.

Friday, Aug. 30: B100 will set up a live remote outside the Joyce Center’s Gate 10 and will be passing out free tickets for the volleyball matches. Fans can register for B100 concert tickets inside Gate 10. The 2002 Notre Dame volleyball schedule magnets also will be given away at the matches.

Saturday, Aug. 31: The first 500 fans will receive a Shamrock Invitational foam-shamrock headband

Sunday, Sept. 1: The first 250 Notre Dame students will receive free pizza from Papa John’s and a white memo board from BW3’s.

Irish will begin the season ranked in the USA Today/AVCA Top 25:

The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) and USA Today have released the preseason Division I poll for the 2002 season and Notre Dame is ranked 25th, earning 191 points. The #25 ranking marks the eighth time since 1993 that the Irish have been ranked in the USA Today/AVCA Preseason rankings. Notre Dame finished 22-7 last season and spent much of the year ranked in the top 25, then dropped out of the final poll after an NCAA Tournament loss to Michigan State.

Notre Dame in the USA Today/AVCA Top 25 Preseason poll:

1993: 19, 17 in final poll

1994: 16, 12 in final poll

1995: 12, 14 in final poll

1996: 9, not ranked in final poll

1997: 17, 18 in final poll

1998: 16, not ranked in final poll

1999: NR, not ranked in final poll

2000: NR, 21 in final poll

2001: 21, not ranked in final poll

2002: 25, TBA

Highly-touted freshman class ready to contribute:

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 ’02 freshman class to provide head coach Debbie Brown with one of her deepest teams since she took over the Irish program in 1991.

Lauren Brewster, Kelly Burrell, Carolyn Cooper, Meg Henican, Lauren Kelbley and Lindsay Peterson were named Volleyball Magazine’s fifth-rated recruiting class and Student Sports Magazine’s third-rated group.

“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 Kelly Corbett, Kim Fletcher, Kristen Kinder and Emily Loomis 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, Texas, Burrell hails from Pheonix, Ariz., Cooper calls Houston, Texas, her hometown, Henican is from New Orleans, Kelbley is from Bascom, Ohio, and Peterson is from Mt. Carroll, Ill..

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 276-94 (.746) and has earned numerous coach-of-the-year accolades throughout her 11 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.

Home court winning streak will be tested this weekend:

The Irish enjoyed just the second undefeated home-court schedule in 2001, pushing their home-court winning streak to 22 matches. Notre Dame has not lost on the Joyce Center floor since a three-game setback vs. #7 Colorado State on Sept. 23, 2000.

The 22-match streak is the second-longest in school history behind the 27-match run Notre Dame compiled from Oct. 24 – Nov. 21 in 1986.


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.

Janie Alderete, Keara Coughlin and Christa Moen might all be seen wearing the libero jersey this season – a jersey that must cannot match the color worn by the rest of the team.

Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee series notes:

The Irish and the Panthers will be meeting for the third time … the two teams have not met since an MCC Conference Championship match in 1994 (a 3-0 Notre Dame victory) … Wisconsin-Milwaukee won the first meeting between the two teams back in 1983 … Kathy Litzau, formerly Kathy Cunningham, was one of Notre Dame’s most noteworthy volleyball players in the mid-80’s … she ended her Notre Dame career with 928 kills, 936 digs and 256 blocks as a 5-11 outside hitter … she also amassed 45 double-digit kill matches, six 20-plus kill matches, 22 double-double matches while ranking seventh all-time in dig average (2.61) … Notre Dame is 0-1 against Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Joyce Center.

Notre Dame vs. Cincinnati series notes:

The Irish and the Bearcats will be meeting for third time … Notre Dame leads the series 2-0 … this is the first time the Irish and Bearcats will not meet on a neutral court … Notre Dame defeated Cincinnati 3-2 at the Eastern Kentucky Colonel Invitational in 1987 and 3-0 in an NCAA Tournament first-round match in Columbus, Ohio … Janie Alderete (10 digs), Keara Coughlin (six digs) and Kim Fletcher (two kills) all appeared in the ’00 NCAA Tournament match.

Notre Dame vs. Cal Poly series notes:

The Irish and Mustangs will be meeting for the first time … Cal Poly finished 15-11 in fifth place of the competitive Big West Conference in 2001.

Notre Dame faces tough schedule this year, including 15 of 28 regular-season matches on the road:

The young Irish squad faces a tough road this season, which includes matches against #21 Colorado, two matches at #4 Hawaii and a home match with #8 Pepperdine. A key stretch of the schedule will be a six-match road trip from Oct. 5 through Oct. 22. That trip will take the Irish from two consecutive weekends on the east coast competing in BIG EAST Conference matches to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, taking on #4 Hawaii twice in two days.