Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Volleyball Will Play Final Two Home Matches This Weekend

Oct. 31, 2002

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Notre Dame (18-5, 8-0) vs. Providence (2-23, 0-7) Oct. 31, 4 p.m., Joyce Center

Notre Dame vs. Boston College Nov. 2, 1 p.m., Joyce Center

Notre Dame returns home for BIG EAST action this weekend:

Fans hoping to catch the 18-5 University of Notre Dame volleyball team are running out of chances for the 2002 season. The Irish are ready to host their final home stand this weekend, taking on 2-23 Providence and 12-13 Boston College. Notre Dame is currently in first place in the league standing with an 8-0 record, while Providence is 14th with an 0-7 record and Boston College is 11th with an 2-5 mark.

The Irish are fresh off a 3-1 victory (18-30, 30-19, 30-22, 30-28) at Illinois State on Tuesday, Oct. 29. Boston College will face Syracuse on Friday, Nov. 1, before making the trip to Notre Dame to take on the Irish.

Audio Coverage:

Catch all the Notre Dame volleyball action on this weekend as the Irish face Providence and Boston College in BIG EAST Conference competition. Assistant sports information director Chris Masters provides the play-by-play, while former North Carolina volleyball stand out and current Notre Dame director of equipment operations Liz Muir will sit in for color commentary. Former Bethel College (Ind.) head volleyball coach Loren Oake will serve as the color commentator for the Boston College match on Sunday.

All audio features on the Notre Dame website are available with the “Fighting Irish Pass” – which includes the Irish volleyball matches. Simply click on the ‘listen’ link under the volleyball match on the front page for more information.

Follow all Irish home matches via live statistics on the official athletic web site:

The University of Notre Dame official web site,, will provide live statistics for all Irish home volleyball matches this season.

The link,, will be available as soon as the matches start in the Joyce Center. Be advised, however, that the statistics displayed are not official until the match is over.

Notre Dame continues to lead the nation in block average:

Even though Notre Dame did not post double-digit blocks in all its matches last week, the Irish maintained their spot atop the nation in team block average. Notre Dame’s 3.79 block average (as of Oct. 28) leads the nation and is .06 ahead of Stanford in second place.

The Irish moved into first in the country in block average with 22 team blocks against St. John’s on Sept. 29 and have not looked back. After a sub-par blocking performance at Illinois State (eight total team blocks) on Tuesday, the Irish are currently averaging 3.70 blocks per game.

Conference winning streak will be put on the line again against Providence Friday:

The Irish are looking to extend their conference win streaks this weekend. Notre Dame has not lost a regular-season BIG EAST Conference match since a loss at West Virginia on Nov. 15, 1998, a streak of 40 consecutive regular-season wins.

During the regular-season streak, the Irish have lost just one match to a BIG EAST foe, in the 1999 conference championship to Georgetown. Dating back to that setback vs. the Hoyas, Notre Dame has won 33 straight matches against league opponents (including BIG EAST Championship play).

Perhaps the most impressive streak the Irish have compiled is their home court win streak against conference opponents. 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 47.

Notre Dame also has won 33 consecutive matches at home.

Lauren Brewster nabs first BIG EAST Rookie of the Week award:

Freshman middle blocker Lauren Brewster, ranked fourth in the nation in blocking as of Oct. 28, turned in another dominating performance at the net last week and earned the first BIG EAST weekly award of her career.

The Brentwood, Tenn., native averaged an eye-popping 2.14 blocks per game last week – including five at #2 Hawaii, 10 against Pittsburgh and 10 once again vs. West Virginia. Brewster ended up with 30 total blocks last week, adding 27 kills and four aces.

Brewster also is approaching the freshman record for blocks in a season (see: Brewster enjoying top rookie season that follows.)

Brewster moves up to fourth 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 last week’s four matches moved her average to 1.64, which is fourth in the country. Brewster is behind Montana State’s Ana Schanze (1.72), Nebraska’s Amber Holmquist (1.90) and Arkansas-Little Rock’s Ivana Kuzmic (2.08).

Lauren Kelbley enjoys a top performance at Illinois State on Tuesday:

Freshman middle blocker Lauren Kelbley stepped up to lead the Irish offense on Tuesday at Illinois State. The Bascom, Ohio, native chalked up 15 kills on .462 hitting, while also leading the team with five blocks.

“Lauren has been steadily improving all season,” Irish head coach Debbie Brown said in the post-match press conference.

“She is beginning to evolve into one of our top options on offense this season.”

Kelbley is currently third on the team in kills (191) and has raised her hitting percentage to .312.

Jessica Kinder stepping forward:

Junior outside hitter Jessica Kinder is well on her way to establishing career-highs for kills, blocks and aces in a season, but the Fresno, Calif., native has stepped her game up even further lately.

In Notre Dame’s last five matches (two at Hawai’i, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. West Virginia, at Illinois State) Jessica Kinder has led the team in kills (3.00 per game – 18 games) and aces (12) while adding 46 digs (2.56 per game) and 12 blocks (0.67).

One of the most versatile players on the team, Jessica Kinder has six double-doubles this season (including a 12-kill, 16-dig effort at Illinois State on Tuesday) and possesses possibly the best weapon on the team. Her jump serve has given the Irish 40 aces this season and continues to keep the other team’s offense off-balance when she is at the serving line.

Notre Dame vs. Providence series notes:

The Irish and Friars will be meeting for the eighth time … Notre Dame leads the all-time series 7-0 … the Irish swept the Friars in three games last season (30-25, 30-22, 30-22) … Kim Fletcher had seven kills and five blocks in two games of action … Katie Neff registered four kills for the Irish … Ayana Cadres had 10 kills and eight digs for Providence … Notre Dame is 3-0 against Providence in the Joyce Center … Cadres is leading the Friar offense this season with 313 kills and 41 blocks … Providence enters Friday’s match with a 12-match losing streak.

Notre Dame vs. Boston College series notes:

The Irish and the Eagles will be meeting for the ninth time … Notre Dame leads the all-time series 8-0 … seven of the eight Irish victories have come in three games … the 2001 meeting ended up as a three-game win for Notre Dame (30-23, 30-17, 31-29) … Kristen Kinder recorded five kills, 36 assists and eight digs in the match … Jessica Brizzolara posted 28 assists and seven digs for BC … Notre Dame is 4-0 against Boston College in the Joyce Center … the Eagles feature several offensive threats, including Rachel Bach (361 kills, .284 hitting), Kim Carlson (137 kills), Katie Andersen (296 kills) and Liz Aron (237 kills) … Jessica Brizzolara returns to run the Eagle offense at setter, averaging 11.79 assists per game.

Notre Dame ranked first in the Northeast Region:

While the Irish have not yet broken back into the USA Today/AVCA top 25 rankings after placing 25th in the preseason poll this year, Notre Dame is ranked first in the Northeast Region, according to the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball committee.

The rankings were released on Oct. 22, and Notre Dame led the way with a 15-3 overall record and 6-0 mark in the BIG EAST. The regional rankings are a key consideration when the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball tournament pairings are announced. The winner of the BIG EAST Conference Championship will receive and automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Northeast Regional Ranking:

Oct. 22, 2002 (records are as of Oct. 20, conference record follows)

1. Notre Dame (15-3, 6-0)

2. Miami (17-2, 5-1)

3. Temple (16-5, 7-0)

4. American (15-6, 7-0)

5. Dayton (16-5, 5-2)

6. Pittsburgh (15-6, 5-1)

7. Georgetown (13-8, 4-2)

8. Xavier (14-8, 5-2)

9. Harvard (10-7, 5-0)

10. Virginia Tech (13-8, 5-1)

Notre Dame has already knocked off #7 Georgetown and #6 Pittsburgh this season. The Irish have yet to face #2 Miami and #10 Virginia Tech.

Notre Dame in the BIG EAST statistical rankings:

As a team, the Irish are second in league hitting percentage (.260), first in blocks (3.79 – a whole 1.08 ahead of Pittsburgh in second place), fourth in assists (13.65) and third in kills (15.32).

As individuals, Lauren Brewster, who is ranked fourth in the country in blocks per game, leads the conference with a 1.64 average. Lauren Kelbley is eighth in the conference with a 1.11 average, followed by teammate Emily Loomis in ninth place (1.07). Jessica Kinder is second in the conference in aces (0.51).

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 33 with five victories since their upset of the Waves. The 33-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 23 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 attendance starting to increase along with their home-court winning streak:

The University of Notre Dame volleyball team has cracked the top 30 in team attendance this season. In the latest release of NCAA attendance figures (compiled by Diane Nordstrom at Wisconsin) Notre Dame is 30th in the nation, averaging 862 per date (11 matches total).

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.

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 matches, the Irish are averaging 3.70 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 first 22 matches of the 2002 season, Notre Dame dominated at the net to collect 300 team blocks and have failed to post more than 10 team blocks in just four matches this season (vs. Colorado, at St. John’s, at Hawai’i-Oct. 22, at Illinois State).

Try to hit through this 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 (78 blocks), Brewster (117), Kelbley (82) and Loomis (81) play a large role in Notre Dame’s 3.79 blocks-per-game average that was ranked first in the nation as of Oct. 28. The Irish block average fell to 3.70 blocks per game after posting just eight team blocks at Illinois State on Tuesday.

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 117 blocks (ranked fourth in the country as of Oct. 28), which puts her among the top five freshman at Notre Dame all-time in terms of blocks during their first season for the Irish:

Notre Dame freshman year block totals:

1. Mary Leffers, 160

2. Mary Kay Waller, 144

3. Lauren Brewster, 117

4. Jaimie Lee, 110

5. Jessica Fiebelkorn, 107

Brewster still has five regular-season matches left this season (and more possible matches during the post season). Keeping to her average, even if the Irish play three games in each remaining match, Brewster would end up with 141 (27 more blocks).

Factor in any five-game matches and possible post season play for Notre dame, and Brewster could make a run at Leffer’s rookie season record.

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 294-99 (.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.

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 are currently 8-0 in the BIG EAST Conference this season.


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.

Here is a quick look at Notre Dame’s last 33 match victories at home:

2000 –

Sept. 29, Villanova, W, 3-0

Oct. 1, Georgetown, W, 3-0

Oct. 20, Rutgers, W, 3-0

Oct. 22, Seton Hall, W, 3-0

Nov. 3, Boston College, W, 3-0

Nov. 4, North Carolina, W, 3-0

Nov. 7, Saint Louis, W, 3-0

Nov. 18, Connecticut, W, 3-0*

Nov. 19, Rutgers, W, 3-0*

2001 –

Aug. 31, SW Texas St., W, 3-0

Sept. 1, Florida Atlantic, W, 3-0

Sept. 1, Idaho, W, 3-1

Sept. 18, Valparaiso, W, 3-0

Sept. 22, Syracuse, W, 3-0

Sept. 28, Virginia Tech, W, 3-0

Sept. 30, Georgetown, W, 3-1

Oct. 12, Villanova, W, 3-0

Oct. 14, Rutgers, W, 3-0

Nov. 9, St. John’s, W, 3-0

Nov. 11, Seton Hall, W, 3-0

Nov. 14, Illinois State, W, 3-2

2002 –

Aug. 30, UW-Milwaukee, W, 3-0

Aug. 31, Cincinnati, W, 3-0

Sept. 1, Cal Poly, W, 3-0

Sept. 13, Northwestern, W, 3-0

Sept. 14, Loyola College, W, 3-0

Sept. 14, Pepperdine, W, 3-2

Sept. 21, Michigan, W, 3-1

Sept. 27, Connecticut, W, 3-1

Sept. 29, St. John’s, W, 3-1

Oct. 25, Pittsburgh, W, 3-1

Oct. 27, West Virginia, W, 3-1

* – 2000 BIG EAST Championship