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Volleyball Will Take On West Virginia And Pittsburgh This Weekend

Nov. 1, 2001

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Notre Dame Volleyball Release

#23 Notre Dame at West Virginia, Saturday, Nov. 3, 5 p.m.

#23 Notre Dame at Pittsburgh, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2 p.m.

Irish continue lengthy road trip with a swing through West Virginia and Pittsburgh for the second straight season:

The University of Notre Dame volleyball team (14-5, 8-0) returns to action this weekend at West Virginia and Pittsburgh with the 2001 BIG EAST Conference regular-season title in sight and a chance to cement a spot in the BIG EAST Championship. The 2001 league championship is set for Fitzgerald Fieldhouse in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Saturday, Nov. 17, and Sunday, Nov. 18. Notre Dame is currently first in the BIG EAST standings, ahead of Rutgers, Georgetown and Connecticut, respectively. The top four teams in the league will receive and invitation to the 2001 BIG EAST Championship.

A quirk in the BIG EAST schedule this year will send Notre Dame on a trip to WVU and Pitt for the second consecutive year. The Irish won both matches in three games last season. Notre Dame also has not played a home match in over three weeks and will end up going 26 days without hosting a match in the Joyce Center.

Notre Dame vs. West Virginia series history:

The Irish and the Mountaineers will be meeting for the ninth time … Notre Dame holds a 7-1 advantage in the series, including a 5-1 BIG EAST Conference record … West Virginia’s lone win in the series was just Notre Dame’s second-ever BIG EAST Conference loss … Kristy Kreher led the Irish offense in the 2000 meeting with 12 kills on .579 hitting … Kristen Kinder also accumulated 13 assists in just one game of work in the match … the Irish are 2-1 at the WVU Coliseum.

A look at the Mountaineers:

West Virginia is currently 6-17 overall and 2-6 in BIG EAST Conference competition this season … the offense is keyed by Dimitra Havriluk, who is averaging 2.88 kills per game with 23 aces and 261 digs (3.58 per game) … Brandice Studnicka is the Mountaineer setter this season, averaging 8.27 assists per game … Krista Smith and Jill Ruskowski have both posted over 150 kills this season.

Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh series history:

The Irish and the Panthers will be meeting for the 18th time this weekend … Notre Dame holds a 14-3 advantage in the series, including victories in the last 13 meetings … the Irish and the Panthers met two years in a row to decide the BIG EAST Championship (1995 & 1996), with Notre Dame earning four-game victories in each match … ND and Pitt went four games last season, with the Irish winning games three and four by 16-14 scores … Kristy Kreher had 22 kills, 10 digs and eight blocks in the 2000 meeting … Notre Dame is 6-2 in Fitzgerald Fieldhouse.

A look at the Panthers:

Pitt is 7-14 this season and 4-4 in BIG EAST competition … many of the Panther sets go to Wendy Hatlestad, who has 1,000 attack attempts this season, 407 kills (4.79 per game) and 184 digs … Carrie Norris returns as the Pitt setter, averaging 9.71 assists per game … the Panthers will attempt to recover from a three-match losing streak at Duquesne, Florida International and Miami (Fla.) … Pittsburgh will face Syracuse on Friday, Nov. 2, before taking on the Irish Sunday.

Notre Dame in BIG EAST volleyball competition:

Since the Irish joined the BIG EAST Conference in 1995, they have posted an exceptional 72-2 (.973) regular-season conference mark. Notre Dame has also won 30 consecutive conference regular-season matches. The two conference losses the Irish suffered were to Connecticut and West Virginia (both on the road) in 1998.

The Irish are 41-0 at home in regular-season BIG EAST matches.

Include the BIG EAST Championship matches and Notre Dame has posted a 77-3 (.963) record against conference teams since 1995.

Brown tabbed as Olympic Torchbearer:

University of Notre Dame head volleyball coach Debbie Brown has been selected to represent the South Bend/Northern Indiana area as an Olympic Torchbearer when the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympic Torch Relay travels through the area.

On Friday, Oct. 19, South Bend mayor Stephen Luecke introduced a small number of the 34 runners, including Brown, who will carry the flame through South Bend when it arrives on Jan. 4, 2002.

The route has not been made official yet, but it will end at the Century Center at 10:00 a.m. on Jan. 4, where the city will host the flame for a 30 minute community celebration before the Relay continues to Gary, Ind.

The nominations for the local torchbearers started in the spring and the nominees were required to embody the inspirational spirit of the Olympics by serving and motivating the community. All nominations from throughout the country were sent to a central location, organized by zip code, and then distributed to approximately 100 judging sectors.

While a junior at USC in 1978, Brown accepted an invitation to train full-time with the U.S. national volleyball team. She captained the team to a fifth-place finish at the ’78 World Championship before earning a spot on the 1980 Olympic team (which never competed in the games due to the U.S. boycott of the games).

She continued her association with the national team in 1986 as a consultant, and she emerged as a full-time assistant in 1988, aiding the team’s ’88 Olympic effort and a 1990 campaign that resulted in a bronze medal at the World Championships.

In May of 1995, Brown was named an “All-Time Great Volleyball Player” by USA Volleyball.

Brown has coached at Notre Dame since 1990, leading the team to nine consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and five BIG EAST Conference championships. She and her husband of 20 years, Dennis, have two sons, Connor and Ryan. The Browns currently reside in Granger, Ind.

Matches cancelled:

The matches previously scheduled against Michigan, Indiana State, Tulane and Purdue, originally postponed due to the terrorist attack on the United States, will not be replayed this season.

Home win streak:

As the Irish have battled through a tough road schedule this season, they also have extended thier home-court win streak to 17 matches. Notre Dame’s last loss on the Joyce Center court was to seventh-ranked Colorado State on Sept. 23, 2000.

The 17-match home win streak ranks second on the all-time charts behind the 27-match streak the team compiled through Sept. 25, 1993 to Sept. 2, 1995.

Irish step up their team blocking:

Notre Dame enters this weekend’s matches at West Virginia and Pittsburgh with 229 total team blocks. As of Oct. 28, 2001, the Irish were ranked seventh in the nation in blocks per game (3.47).

In its 19 matches this season, Notre Dame has failed to reach double-digit blocks just seven times (posting nine blocks in four of those matches). In a notable performance the team blocked 21 attempts versus Georgetown and the Irish are currently on a three-match streak of 16 team blocks.

The school record for team block average per game is in reach for the Irish this season. The 1988 edition of the Fighting Irish averaged 3.57 blocks per game.

Goralski leads BIG EAST:

Senior middle blocker Malinda Goralski ranks at the top of two statistical categories in the conference rankings (as of Oct. 29). The Missouri City, Texas, native leads all league players in blocks per game with 1.73 (114 total). She also is ranked second in hitting percentage (.379) and plays a major role in Notre Dame’s top team ranking in blocks per game (3.47).

In the latest NCAA statistical rankings (Oct. 18), Goralski was ranked eighth in blocks per game (1.73) and 28th in hitting percentage (.379).

Alderete excels in the back row:

Irish defensive specialist Janie Alderete, who usually subs in for starting middle blocker Malinda Goralski in the back row, is becoming one of the top performers on the Irish roster. A junior from Santa Clara, Calif., Alderete has recorded more than five digs in 16 out of 19 matches this season, including eight double-digit dig matches.

She was all over the court against #15 Pepperdine on Sept. 9, digging a career-high 19 balls. She has continued that form lately as well, recording 13 digs vs. Valparaiso, nine against Georgetown, 12 at Toledo, 13 vs. Rutgers and 12 at Providence.

Alderete currently leads the team in digs per game with a 2.78 average (182 total).

Not just a defensive threat, Alderete is second on the team with 21 aces this season and recorded a career-high four against Virginia Tech on Sept. 28.

Kristen Kinder takes advantage of starting opportunity:

Heading into the 2001 season, the starting setter was clearly one of the more pivotal positions on the team. After the graduation of four-year starter Denise Boylan, the reigns of the Irish offense were handed to sophomore Kristen Kinder.

The second-year player from Fresno, Calif., has responded. Leading the team to a .249 hitting percentage 19 matches into the season, Kinder has turned a possible team weakness into a team strength.

Shrugging off a lack of playing time in 2000, Kinder has helped the Irish lead the conference in hitting and is a presence across the boxscore after every match. She is first on the team in aces with 26 (recording a career-best five against Kentucky on Tuesday, Oct. 23), second in digs with 164 and has collected 36 blocks (including eight solo). Her assist average is third in the BIG EAST Conference at 11.64 (as of Oct. 29) and she also has shown the ability to provide a kill when needed – knocking down 65 shots this season (0.98 per game).

Jessica Kinder provides a spark off the bench:

The most powerful hitter on the team, Jessica Kinder has recently played a major role in the Irish offensive success.

Often subbing into the game in crucial situations to serve, the sophomore outside hitter utilizes a powerful jump serve to keep the opposing team’s reception off-balance and upset the entire offensive flow.

She was at her best against Villanova, helping the Irish score nine consecutive points on her serve. She would end up posting the best numbers in a match of her young career, scoring a personal-best five aces, also while posting five kills on five swings and five digs.

Kinder is coming off a career-best seven-kill performance at Providence last weekend.

Irish forced to adjust from the comforts of home to life on the road:

Notre Dame played 19 matches in the friendly confines of the Joyce Center last season. The Irish had 17 regular-season home matches scheduled and won both matches at the 2000 BIG EAST Volleyball Championship, which was held on campus.

The 2001 schedule calls for at least 13 road matches, a number that could increase if the Irish qualify for the BIG EAST Championship. A key stretch of the Irish schedule began with the Oct. 17 match with #16 Northern Iowa, as Notre Dame will have played six consecutive road matches from Oct. 16, through Nov. 4, before returning to their home court on Nov. 9.

Notre Dame broke through for its first road victory of the season at Toledo on Tuesday, Oct. 2. The Irish are now 5-5 on the road, with four of the five losses to ranked teams (#1 Nebraska, #7 UCLA, #15 Pepperdine, #16 Northern Iowa).

Strong schedule:

Irish head coach Debbie Brown, who led the team to two key victories over high ranked opponents in 2000 (3-2 come-from-behind victory over #15 BYU and a 3-1 win over #22 Loyola Marymount), has scheduled a number of highly-rated teams this season. Notre Dame will face five top 25 teams in 2001, including #9 Florida in the Gator’s Volleyball Conference Challenge at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex on Nov. 24. The Irish have already faced #1 Nebraska, #7 UCLA, #15 Pepperdine and #16 Northern Iowa this season.


A number of Irish players have posted career-bests during the 2001 season. Malinda Goralski tied her career high in both kills (18) and blocks (11) vs. Southwest Texas and Idaho, respectively. She matche her career high in blocks at Kentucky on Oct. 23.

Kim Fletcher posted two career-bests while achieving her first career double-double with 14 kills and 10 digs against Idaho. Fletcher also posted a personal-best nine blocks against Georgetown. Freshman Emily Loomis also posted 14 kills vs. the Vandals, for a personal-best total of her young career.

Junior DS Janie Alderete set a new career mark with 19 digs against #15 Pepperdine on Sept. 9, while sophomore DS Christa Moen posted a personal-best 10 digs at Boston College.

Sophomore OH Jessica Kinder has also excelled in the back row recently, digging a career-best 10 attempts at Connecticut and a career high seven kills at Providence. Kristen Kinder recently joined the career-best category after serving five aces at Kentucky on Oct. 23.

NCAA Championship selections pushed back:

Due to the tragic events Sept. 11, the NCAA Executive Committee directed NCAA committees to make appropriate accommodations, such as extending playing seasons, altering schedules and adjusting criteria for championship selection for institutions that chose not to play during the last few days.

The Division I Women’s Volleyball Committee voted to move the championship selection announcement from Sunday, Nov. 25, to Monday, Nov. 26, in order to allow greater flexibility for member institutions to reschedule contests that may have been postponed due to world events. The championship dates of competition will not be adjusted.

Additionally, the committee further emphasized its existing policy of preferred first- and second-round competition dates of Friday/Saturday as first choice, Saturday/Sunday as second choice and Thursday/Friday as third choice.