Aug. 12, 2002

The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) and USA Today have released the preseason Division I poll for the 2002 season and the University of Notre Dame volleyball team 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 dropping out of the poll after an NCAA Tournament loss to Michigan State.

The Irish return four starters from last year’s BIG EAST Championship team and welcome six freshmen to the squad. The incoming freshman class is among the best in the nation this season, as it was ranked third by Student Sports Magazine and fifth by Volleyball Magazine. Notre Dame also was ranked 19th in the Volleyball Magazine preseason poll released on July 1, 2002.

Among the notable veterans on this year’s Irish squad are returning BIG EAST setter of the year Kristen Kinder and second-team all-BIG EAST selection Kim Fletcher. Starting outside hitter Emily Loomis and senior tri-captains and libero candidates Janie Alderete and Keara Coughlin also return. The veterans and freshmen will be looking to assure Notre Dame’s 11th-straight trip to the NCAA tournament this season.

Three Irish opponents from the 2002 schedule were in the preseason poll. Notre Dame will make the trip to #5 Hawai’i for two matches on Oct. 21 and 22, while #8 Pepperdine will visit the Joyce Center on Sept. 13-14 for the Golden Dome Invitational. The Irish also will be in Califorina for the Loyola Marymount Classic on Sept. 6 and 7 and will face #21 Colorado, as well as LMU during the tournament.

Cincinnati, which will enter the Shamrock Invitational on Aug. 30 – Sept. 1, was in the ‘also receiving votes’ category along with Loyola Marymount, Michigan (at home on Sept. 21) and Cal Poly (also participating in the Shamrock Classic).

The Irish have already been selected to win their third-straight BIG EAST title this season, by a vote from the conference coaches. K. Kinder and Fletcher were named to the preseason all-BIG EAST team.

The 2002 season begins on Aug. 30 against Wisconsin-Milwaukee as the second match of the Shamrock Invitational at 7 p.m.

2002 USA Today/AVCA Division I Preseason Top 25

1. Stanford, 1610 pts.

2. Nebraska, 1502 pts.

3. USC, 1445 pts.

4. Hawai’i, 1349 pts.

5. Long Beach State, 1300 pts.

6. Arizona, 1282 pts.

7. Florida, 1255 pts.

8. Pepperdine, 1188 pts.

9. Ohio State, 1064 pts.

10. Wisconsin, 967 pts.

11. UCLA, 912 pts.

12. Pacific, 778 pts.

13. Utah, 654 pts.

14. Northern Iowa, 645 pts.

15. Michigan State, 629 pts.

16. Penn State, 620 pts.

17. Texas A&M, 482 pts.

18. Colorado State, 411 pts.

19. Illinois, 385 pts.

20. UC Santa Barbara, 346 pts.

21. Colorado, 308 pts.

22. Kansas State, 232 pts.

23. BYU, 203 pts.

24. Santa Clara, 195 pts.

25. Notre Dame, 191 pts.

Other receiving points and listed on two or more ballots: South Carolina (161), North Carolina (155), Texas (117), Louisville (105), San Diego (97), Washington State (81), San Jose State (67), Minnesota (66), Missouri (58), Arkansas (53), Utah State (47), Duke (36), Baylor (26), Cincinnati (12), Georgia Tech (10), Loyola Marymount (10), Michigan (10), Texas Tech (9), Cal Poly (7), Eastern Washington (7), Oregon State (7), South Florida (4), Alabama (3) and Southwest Missouri State (3).

Notre Dame 2002 opponents in bold.

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