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Volleyball Will Defend Its Home Court In NCAA Tournament Action This Weekend

Dec. 4, 2002

Complete Release in PDF Format, including updated player biographies, a detailed NCAA history and additional statistical breakdowns.
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2002 NCAA Championship

Joyce Center * Notre Dame, Ind. * Dec. 7-8

Saturday, Dec. 7

Michigan State (19-11) vs. George Mason (22-7), 4 p.m.

Notre Dame (23-7) vs. College of Charleston (29-5), 6 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 8

Winners from Saturday, 4 p.m.

Internet broadcast:

All matches involving Notre Dame will be broadcast on Lorne Oke will provide the play-by-play and Liz Muir will sit in for color commentary.

Notre Dame ready for NCAA action on its home court:

The NCAA volleyball championship returns to the Joyce Center for the first time in six years as the University of Notre Dame plays host to the first and second round of the west regional on Dec. 7 and 8. The College of Charleston, George Mason, Michigan State and Notre Dame make up the four-team tournament. George Mason and Michigan State begin the action on Saturday, Dec. 7, at 4 p.m. – followed by the Charleston vs. Notre Dame contest at 6 p.m.

A quick look at Notre Dame history in the NCAA Championship:

Notre Dame qualified for its first NCAA Championship appearance in 1988, defeating #20 Penn State in the Joyce Center before falling to #4 Illinois in Urbana, Ill. … this is the 11th-straight season the Irish have appeared in the NCAA Tournament (1992 – 2002) … Notre Dame is 10-11 (.476) in NCAA Tournament action … the Irish are 5-1 (.833) in NCAA Championship play in the Joyce Center … Notre Dame has faced a Big Ten team 11 times in NCAA tourney competition … Notre Dame’s last appearance was a first-round loss to Michigan State in Madison, Wis., last season.

Debbie Brown looking for 300th victory at Notre Dame this weekend:

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 299-101 (.748) and has earned numerous coach-of-the-year accolades throughout her 11 full years with the Irish, including the 2000 and 2001 BIG EAST Coach of the Year awards.

Brown also is closing in on her 300th victory with the Irish, needing just one more victory to reach that career milestone. Entering the 2002 season, Brown’s 393-127 overall Division I coaching record placed her 26th on the winningest active coaches list and 34th on the all-time victory list.

Notre Dame grabs seventh BIG EAST title and 11th NCAA bid:

The Irish finished off the 2002 season two weeks ago in the BIG EAST Championship, defeating Connecticut and Miami (Fla.) to win their seventh BIG EAST title since 1995. Notre Dame entered the tournament with the number one seed after finishing the conference regular season 11-2. Winning both matches by 3-1 scores, the Irish were led by tournament Most Outstanding Player Emily Loomis. Loomis hit .379 in the two matches with 35 kills, 17 digs and eight blocks. In the final match, she tallied a match-high 21 kills on .462 hitting.

The BIG EAST Championship earned Notre Dame an automatic berth in the NCAA Championship – assuring head coach Debbie Brown of her 11th-straight NCAA tournament appearance.

Irish win 20 matches for the fourth season in a row:

Notre Dame’s 3-0 victory over Boston College on Sunday, Nov. 3, provided the Irish with their 20th victory of the season, marking the 2002 season as the fourth-straight in which head coach Debbie Brown’s team has posted at least 20 victories. In fact, Brown’s teams have reached 20 wins in all but one season since she took over the program in 1991.

Notre Dame won 20 matches in 1999, 20 in 2000 and 22 in 2001. The record for wins in the season is 33, reached in 1994 and 1986.

Debbie Brown receives NCAA Silver Anniversary Award:

The NCAA Honors Committee announced six NCAA Silver Anniversary Award recipients for 2003 on Nov. 21, 2002. The Silver Anniversary Award recognizes former student-athletes who have distinguished themselves since completing their college athletic careers 25 years ago.

Notre Dame head coach Debbie Brown was among the six honorees this year. Brown has led her volleyball teams to 16 NCAA Championship appearances in the last 18 seasons, including the 2002 season which saw her Notre Dame team earn the 16th seed and play host to the first two rounds of the ’02 NCAA Tournament. The Irish have been in the NCAA field for the last 11 seasons and have earned seven BIG EAST titles since 1995. A 2002 Olympic Torchbearer, she was NCAA District I Coach of the Year in 1997 and is a three-time BIG EAST coach of the year. She also was the AVCA Mideast Regional Coach of the Year in 1992-93.

Brown also has coached at Arizona State University, where she was the Pacific-10 Conference coach of the year in 1986. Brown has amassed a 416-184 career record and 299-101 record at Notre Dame. Also active in coaching on the national level, Brown was an assistant coach for the U.S. bronze medal team at the 1990 world championships and assisted the 1988 U.S. Olympic team.

The 1977 collegiate player of the year led Southern California to a 72-1 record during their career. A six-time USVBA All-American and a two-time collegiate All-American, she competed at the 1974 World Championship and was named captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that did not compete due to the boycott.

More information on Debbie Brown’s stellar career is available on pages 20-22 of the 2002 Notre Dame Volleyball Media Guide.

Irish finish unbeaten at home for the second straight season and just the fourth time in school history:

Two BIG EAST Conference victories over Providence and Boston College on Nov. 1 and 3 provided Notre Dame with its second consecutive undefeated regular season on the Joyce Center floor. The Irish will carry a 35-match win streak at home into the weekend.

The Irish posted a 12-0 record at home a year ago and improved that mark by one this season, finishing 13-0 in front of the Joyce Center crowd.

Notre Dame finished 17-0 at home in 1994 and 5-0 in 1982.

Irish home court win streak will be challenged this weekend:

Notre Dame’s impressive home court win streak will be tested in NCAA Championship action this weekend.

The Irish have won 35 consecutive matches on the Joyce Center floor, dating back to a three-game set back vs. #7 Colorado State on Sept. 23, 2000.

Since Notre Dame began BIG EAST play in 1995, they have not lost to a BIG EAST team on the Joyce Center floor. That winning streak stands at 49.

Brewster fifth in the nation in block average:

An exceptional week of defense at the net, which enabled Lauren Brewster to earn the BIG EAST rookie of the week award on Oct. 28, also moved the middle blocker up the national rankings in block average. Brewster was 12th as of Oct. 21, but her output during four matches from Oct. 21-26 moved her average to 1.64, which was fourth in the country as of Oct. 28.

The rookie from Brentwood, Tenn., has settled in at fifth in the nation in the latest statistical release from the NCAA, with a 1.70 average. She is behind Arkansas-Little Rock’s Ivana Kuzmic, Nebraska’s Amber Holmquist, Cal Poly’s Worthy Lien and Ana Schanze from Montana State.

Team gets back in the top 30 in the country for team hitting:

Led by second-team all-BIG EAST setter Kristen Kinder, the Irish have been steadily moving up the list of top hitting teams in the country. Notre Dame broke into the top 30 in team hitting percentage three weeks ago and ranks 24th in the country with a .266 team percentage as of Nov. 24.

College of Charleston series history and notes:

Notre Dame and the College of Charleston will be meeting for the first time on Saturday … this is the first NCAA Championship appearance for the Cougars, who won the Southern Conference tournament this season … Charleston is 29-5 and is riding a 22-match winning streak, the second-longest active streak in the nation behind Nebraska … Charleston is led on offense by Stephanie Ballard with 465 kills this season (3.91 per game) on .318 hitting.

George Mason series history and notes:

Should the Patriots and Irish win their first round matches, Sunday will be the second-ever meeting between the two teams … Notre Dame and George Mason met in the Joyce Center on Nov. 9, 1996 … the ninth-ranked Patriots came away with a five-game victory … for George Mason and head coach Pat Kendrick, it is the fifth trip to the NCAA tournament and they received an automatic berth after winning the Colonial Athletic Association Championship over James Madison … George Mason is on a seven-match win streak entering Saturday’s match … the Patriots are led by two-time CAA Player of the Year Aline Pereira, who led the conference with an impressive 6.64 kills per game (711 total).

Michigan State series history and notes:

Should the Spartans and Irish win their first round matches, Sunday will be the ninth meeting between the two teams … MSU leads the all-time series 5-3 … the Spartans and Irish last met in the 2001 NCAA Championship in Madison, Wis., a 3-1 Michigan State victory … Michigan State has won the last four meetings between the two schools … MSU finished 19-11 this season and 11-9 in Big Ten competition … sophomore outside hitter Kim Schram leads the Spartans with 414 kills this season (3.73 per game) … MSU head coach Chuck Erbe was the head coach at USC when Irish head coach Debbie Brown played for the Trojans.

Irish set a new standard for consecutive home victories in memorable fashion:

Notre Dame’s victory over #10 Pepperdine extended the Irish home court winning streak to 28 matches. Notre Dame has moved that total to 35 with seven victories at home since their upset of the Waves. The 35-match streak is the longest in school history, eclipsing the previous mark of 27 matches from Sept. 9, 1993 through Sept. 2, 1995.

The Irish have not lost in the Joyce Center since a three-game setback to #7 Colorado State on Sept. 23, 2000.

During the Irish winning streak at home, they have dropped just 11 games while winning 25 matches 3-0. Notre Dame also has won four tournament titles during the streak, including the 2000 BIG EAST Championship, the 2001 and 2002 Shamrock Invitational titles and the 2002 Golden Dome Invitational.

Irish home attendance hits an all-time high in 2002:

Bolstered by two matches played before Notre Dame football pep rallies and an overall increase in attendance, the Irish have broken into the top 30 in the country in attendance average this season. With a school-record 3,251 in attendance on Friday, Nov. 1, as the Irish took on Providence, Notre Dame pushed its average to 1,064 and moved into 27th in the country in attendance. The 3,251 crowd was the 48th-best in the country this season (as of Nov. 4).

Irish set school records during classic victory over #10 Pepperdine:

The victory over the visiting Waves on Saturday, Sept. 14, was more than just Notre Dame’s first victory over a top-10 opponent since 1995. The win stretched the Irish home court winning streak to a record 28 matches and provided Notre Dame its second home tournament title of the season (combined with the Shamrock Invitational).

The match against the Waves also set two team records. The 30-32, 30-24, 29-31, 30-25 and 15-10 game scores matched the team record for points in a match (134) from Notre Dame’s five-game victory over Illinois State in 2001. The Notre Dame – Pepperdine match also is the longest in the Joyce Center under the new rally scoring rules, as the match ended two hours, 28 minutes after it began (surpassing the Illinois State match by six minutes).

Another team record was set earlier in the tournament, when Notre Dame defeated Loyola College 30-16, 30-16 and 30-14 to win by 44 points, the largest winning margin for the Irish under the new rally scoring method.

Pepperdine is currently ranked #8 in the nation.

Notre Dame utilizing its front row strength to dominate at the net:

The 2001 Irish team posted a 3.42 blocks-per-game average, second to just the ’85 (3.51) and ’88 (3.57) teams.

Entering this weekend’s match, the Irish are averaging 3.67 blocks per game this season.

Front row specialists Malinda Goralski, Kristy Kreher and Marcie Bomhack graduated last season, but a talented freshman class, combined with some experienced front line players, have shown the ability to improve the Irish defense at the net. In the during the 2002 regular season, Notre Dame dominated at the net to collect 388 team blocks and have failed to post 10 or more team blocks in just six matches this season (vs. Colorado, at St. John’s, at Hawai’i-Oct. 22, at Illinois State, vs. Providence, nine vs. UConn in the BIG EAST Championship).

Try to hit through this record-setting front line:

Notre Dame’s blocking prowess has been well documented this season, but the Irish have some rotations that defy opposing teams to get a shot through. At certain times during a match, Katie Neff (6-5), Lauren Brewster (6-3) and Lauren Kelbley (6-2) are patrolling the net for the Irish defense. Add in 6-1 all-BIG EAST high jumper Emily Loomis and the Irish defensive wall becomes even more impressive.

Neff (103 blocks), Brewster (165), Kelbley (105) and Loomis (102) play a large role in Notre Dame’s 3.69 blocks-per-game average that was ranked first in the nation as of Nov. 18 – and has been ranked first in the nation for several weeks this season.

In addition, the four-player combination of Loomis, Neff, Kelbley and Brewster mark the first time in Notre Dame volleyball history that four players have recorded over 100 kills in a season. Three Irish players accomplished the feat in 1986, 1987, 1988 and 2001. Marcie Bomhack ended up with 96 blocks a year ago – just missing out on making it two seasons in a row with four players over 100 kills.

Brewster enjoying one of the top rookie seasons in Notre Dame volleyball history:

Freshman Lauren Brewster has been stacking up the blocks since she first stepped on the court against Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Aug. 30.

The rookie currently has 165 blocks (ranked fifth in the country as of Nov. 24), which is the best all-time in terms of blocks for an individual during their freshman season. Here are the top five freshman block totals in Notre Dame volleyball history:

Notre Dame freshman year block totals:

1. Lauren Brewster (’02), 165

2. Mary Leffers (’96), 160

3. Mary Kay Waller (’85), 144

4. Jaimie Lee (’94), 110

5. Jessica Fiebelkorn (’89), 107

Brewster’s 2002 season total is not just the best rookie effort in team history, it currently ranks seventh all-time on the single-season block list.

Notre Dame single-season block top seven:

1. Mary Kay Waller (’88), 206

2. Jessica Fiebelkorn (’91), 186

3. Mary Kay Waller (’87), 176

4. Mary Leffers (’99), 175

5. Mary Kay Waller (’86), 173

6. Malinda Goralski (’01), 171

7. Lauren Brewster (’02), 165


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.