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Volleyball Travels West For Non-Conference Match With Illinois State

Oct. 9, 2000

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WHO: University of Notre Dame and Illinois State University.

WHAT: Notre Dame’s third-consecutive road match.

WHERE: Redbird Arena, Normal, Ill.

WHEN: #20 Notre Dame vs. Illinois State, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 7:00 p.m.

Irish `Road Warriors’ Travel to Illinois State for Third Consecutive Road Game: The Notre Dame Volleyball team (13-4, 4-0 in BIG EAST) heads west for a non-conference road match on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at Illinois State. The Irish boast a 6-0 record away from the Joyce Center this season, including capturing the Lady Seminole Classic title (Sept. 15-16) in Tallahassee, Fla.

Scouting the Redbirds: Notre Dame and Illinois State are meeting for the 13th time … the series is tied at 6-6 … Illinois State is 8-5 (5-2 in the Missouri Valley conference) in 2000 … Irish senior Christi Girton (Muncie, Ind.) had 19 kills in the ’99 meeting with the Redbirds while junior Kristy Kreher (Birmingham, Mich.) had a double-double with 15 kills and 13 digs … Kendra Haselhorst leads the Illinois State offense this season with 210 kills on .270 hitting … Illinois State is coming off a five-game victory at Witchita State on Oct. 7 … the Redbirds have only played two home games so far in 2000.

West Virginia Recap: The Irish improved to 4-0 in the BIG EAST with two conference victories at West Virginia, Oct. 7, and Pittsburgh, Oct. 8.

Notre Dame sailed to victory (15-0, 15-7, 15-4) over BIG EAST foe West Virginia in Morgantown, W.V., Saturday afternoon. The Irish utilized a highly effective offense to dominate the Mountaineers, committing just five hitting errors in the match. Notre Dame began the match by winning the first game 15-0 while totaling 13 kills on 18 attempts with no errors for an amazing .722 team hitting percentage in the game.

Junior Kristy Kreher led the Irish offense with 12 kills on 19 attempts and just one error (.579 hitting percentage). Kreher also had seven blocks in the match. Notre Dame was able to give the entire roster playing time in the match, but senior Christi Girton and junior Marcie Bomhack (Waukesha, Wis.) were able to tally five kills in the two games they played.

The Mountaineers were led by Jamie Boardman with 12 kills and three blocks.

Pittsburgh Recap: The Irish moved on and outlasted BIG EAST foe Pittsburgh to earn a four-game (15-9, 10-15, 16-14, 16-14) match victory at Pittsburgh, Pa., Sunday afternoon.

Four Notre Dame hitters notched double-digit kills in the match, led by senior Christi Girton who had a career-high 30 kills. The two-time conference co-player-of-the-week had 57 attack attempts in the match and committed just 10 errors for an impressive .351 hitting percentage. Girton added 15 digs in the match.

Junior opposite Kristy Kreher continued her hot-hitting streak, totaling 22 kills, 10 digs and eight blocks against the Panthers. The 20-plus kill performance is Kreher’s fourth of the year (23 vs. #15 BYU, 21 vs. #16 Michigan State and 32 vs. #22 Loyola Marymount).

Junior Marcie Bomhack also had a double-double in the match with 19 kills and a match-high 19 digs. Classmate Malinda Goralski (Missouri City, Texas) was the fourth Irish hitter to total double-digit kills with 12. Goralski, the team’s leading blocker this season, also had five blocks in the victory.

The victory closed out an impressive weekend for senior setter Denise Boylan (Lisle, Ill.). Boylan led the team to a .425 hitting percentage against West Virginia on Saturday, Oct. 7, followed by Sunday’s .318 team hitting mark at Pittsburgh. She also had a career-high 86 assists in the match against Pittsburgh with 10 digs. The 86-assist mark breaks the school record for a four-game match that Boylan set on Sept. 21, 2000, against #22 Loyola Marymount.

Freshman Kim Fletcher (St. Louis, Mo.) played a hand in the Irish victory as well with a career-high eight kills on 11 attempts with just one error (.636 hitting percentage).

Pittsburgh was led by Stacy Renick and Marcie Thiesen who had 25 and 27 kills, respectively.

Girton Named Co-BIG EAST Player of the Week for the Second Consecutive Week: 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 last weekend. 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.

Girton becomes the second Irish player to earn player of the week honors this season. Denise Boylan was given the honor on Sept. 4.

Head Coach Debbie Brown: Now entering 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 241-84 (.741) since she joined the program in 1991. That success came after six years as head coach at Arizona State (1983-88), giving her a 357-167 record over 15 seasons.

Brown has coached teams that have qualified for the NCAA tournament 13 times and have won nine conference championships. The Irish have won four of five regular-season conference titles since they began BIG EAST play in 1995 and also have won four of five BIG EAST tournament titles. An NCAA berth at the end of the 2000 season would give 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 1,047 career kills. She becomes the 11th Irish player to surpass 1,000 kills in a career.

Boylan Earns Player of the Week Honors: Senior setter Denise Boylan was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week on Monday, Sept. 4, for her performance during the Shamrock Invitational (Sept. 1-3). She led the team to three victories, including a come-from-behind upset over #15 BYU. Boylan’s statistics over the course of the Shamrock tournament: 136 assists (12.36 apg), 27 digs, 10 blocks, 10 kills and five aces.

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. Of the 597 matches the Irish have played, they have been victorious in 417 of them for an impressive .700 winning percentage.

Preseason Honors: Notre Dame senior setter Denise Boylan was chosen as the BIG EAST preseason player of the year on Aug. 8. Boylan earned first-team all-BIG EAST honors in 1999 after leading the Irish with 1,132 assists and 35 aces. Her career marks of 3,291 assists and 11.84 assist per game average are both second in school history.

Boylan was joined on the preseason all-BIG EAST team by fellow senior Christi Girton. Girton had previously earned second team all-BIG EAST accolades after the 1998 and 1999 seasons. She led the team in kills (333) and digs (201) last season and ranks 10th on the career hitting percentage list with a .254 mark.

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 15 matches this season, she has a .320 percentage (224 kills, 73 errors on 472 attempts).

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 .270 percentage in 2000 (209 kills, 61 errors on 474 attempts).

Home Court Advantage To Be Tested: The Irish continued their traditional success at home in 1999 with a 10-2 Joyce Center record. Notre Dame is 165-64 all-time in the Joyce Center and the Debbie Brown era (1991-current) is even better. Since 1991, Notre Dame has won 113 of 133 home matches for a stellar .849 winning percentage.

These numbers are being challenged in 2000 as the Irish have played #1 Nebraska, #4 Colorado State, #7 UCLA, #15 BYU #17 Michigan State and #22 Loyola Marymount in the first four weeks of the 2000 season. Notre Dame also will play host the 2000 BIG EAST volleyball championship Nov. 18-19.

A Highly-Rated Group of Freshmen: The class of 2004 that features Kim Fletcher (St. Louis, Mo.), Jessica Kinder, Kristen Kinder, Katie Neff (St. Louis, Mo.) 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 Early in the Season: The 2000 freshmen class has made some significant contributions in the first seven matches of the year. OH Jessica Kinder and MB Kim Fletcher have been in and out of the rotation for the Irish in the first three weeks of the season. Fletcher has played in 33 of the 58 games this season, scoring 49 kills, 23 digs and 22 blocks. Jessica Kinder has come off the bench with an effective jump-serve to score 11 aces and also has 26 kills and 50 digs.

MB Katie Neff and S Kristen Kinder were in the starting lineup of the third game versus Valparaiso and Villanova. Kristen Kinder set the Irish to a .409 hitting percentage in the decisive game against Valparaiso and added three kills. Neff had two kills and a block in the game versus the Crusaders. Kristen Kinder also saw action in the Florida A&M match, playing two games and totaling four kills, 15 assists, three aces and nine digs.

Freshman DS Christa Moen has seen action in 19 games this season, tallying 22 digs.

A Record Number of Home Matches?: The Irish have 17 home matches scheduled in 2000. If Notre Dame qualifies for the BIG EAST tournament (the top four teams in the conference will make up the tournament field) it will have an opportunity to play the most home matches in the program’s history. Notre Dame played 18 home matches 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 will get a chance to play hometown St. Louis University when the Billikens visit the Joyce Center Nov. 7. The Kinders, who call Fresno, Calif., home, will get to return to the west coast when the Irish travel to USC Nov. 24.

California Dreaming: When the Irish travel to Los Angeles, Calif., for their final regular season match up 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 also 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 the Irish quite a boost off the bench this season. She set career-highs in kills (six), attack attempts (16) and blocks (three) in the Irish victory over Samford.

Shimmel’s 24 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 Oct. 9, rankings, the Irish have faced two of the top five teams in the nation #1 Nebraska and #3 Colorado State in the month of September. The Irish will also meet current-#4 USC on Nov. 24, in Los Angeles.

Eight teams in the top 25 appear on the Notre Dame schedule this season. The Irish have knocked off #15 BYU (now ranked 17th) and #23 Loyola Marymount.

Notre Dame In BIG EAST Competition: Since Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST Conference in 1995, it has won four regular-season conference titles in volleyball. Until Georgetown knocked the Irish off in the BIG EAST Tournament in 1999, Notre Dame had compiled a 10-0 record in the BIG EAST Tournament and won four titles. Current Irish OH Marcie Bomhack was named MVP of the BIG EAST Tournament in 1998.

Goralski Patrols the Net: The loss of 1999 BIG EAST Player of the Year Mary Leffers to graduation has been eased by the steady play of junior Malinda Goralski. Through 17 matches in 2000, Goralski has nearly surpassed her career totals over the last two years:

1999:Kills   Blocks  Hitting Percentage  Games Played110 77  .271    912000:Kills   Blocks  Hitting Percentage  Games Played138 64  .369    53

The Missouri, Texas, native had a 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 leads the BIG EAST in hitting percentage with a .369 mark, 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 leads the team in blocks this season with 64.

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 20th in the poll, the highest the Irish have climbed since they placed 16th in the 1998 preseason poll.

2000 BIG EAST Tournament: The 2000 BIG EAST Volleyball Tournament will be played at the Joyce Center for the first time since 1995. The semifinals are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 18, with the championship to be played on Sunday, Nov. 19. The Irish boast a .909 winning percentage (10-1) in tournament play since they joined the league in 1995 and have captured four tournament titles.

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 MVPs Angie Harris (’95), Lindsay Treadwell (’96), Jaimie Lee (’97) and Marcie Bomhack (’98). Providence (’83, ’85, `87) and Georgetown (`99) are the only other schools to have won a BIG EAST championship. New Format: The BIG EAST Conference has a new four-team format after experimenting with an expanded three-day, six-team field in 1999. The tournament will include the top four teams according to the final regular- season standings. The semi-finals are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 18 at 1:00 and 3:30 p.m. The champion ship match is slated for 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19.