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Volleyball Will Wrap Up Regular Season This Weekend At Disney World

Nov. 21, 2001

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Notre Dame Volleyball Release

University of Florida Conference Challenge

Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex, Buena Vista, Fla.

Friday, Nov. 23, 12 p.m.

#25 Notre Dame vs. LSU, 12 p.m.

#7 Florida vs. Virginia Tech, 2 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 24, 2 p.m.

LSU vs. Virginia Tech, 12 p.m.

#25 Notre Dame vs. #7 Florida, 2 p.m.

Irish travel to Disney World to wrap up the 2001 regular season:

The 2001 BIG EAST Champion University of Notre Dame volleyball team (21-5) will head to Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex for the 2001 University of Florida Volleyball Conference Challenge on Friday, Nov. 23, and Saturday, Nov. 24. Notre Dame will face both LSU and seventh-ranked Florida during the two-day event.

Notre Dame vs. LSU series history:

The Irish and the Tigers will be meeting for the fifth time … Friday’s meeting will be the first between the two teams since 1990 … LSU holds a 3-1 advantage in the series … the Tigers were ranked in the AVCA Top 25 the last two times the teams have met – both LSU victories … Notre Dame’s lone win in the series came in a four-game triumph in 1988.

A look at the Tigers:

LSU enters Friday’s match with a 15-10 overall record and 10-5 SEC mark … LSU entered the 2001 SEC Championship with the #4 seed, but was upset by fifth-seeded Alabama after sweeping the Crimson Tide during the regular season … Senior Meagan Davis (first-team), junior Lauren Cuyler (second team) and Jennifer Hampton (second-team) earned all-SEC honors in 2001 … Hampton leads the Tiger offense with 269 kills (3.24 per game) on .175 hitting … Davis is the top hitting percentage threat, averaging 2.90 kills per game on .374 hitting … Katie Kubena is the Tiger setter, averaging 11.46 assists per game.

Notre Dame vs. Florida series history:

The Irish and the Gators will be meeting for the fifth time … Florida holds a 3-1 advantage in the series, Notre Dame’s lone win coming in a four-game upset of the ninth-ranked Gators in 1994.

A look at the Gators:

Florida enters this weekend’s action with a 23-1 record and fresh off capturing the title at the 2001 SEC Championship … the Gators have won 21 straight matches, suffering their only loss of the season to sixth-ranked Arizona in three games on Sept. 1 … until its five-game victory over Arkansas in the SEC Championship, the Gators had posted a school record 17-straight 3-0 victories … Aury Cruz, a national player of the year candidate, has posted 388 kills this season (5.11 per game) on .343 hitting, 248 digs (3.36 per game) and 50 aces … Florida has five players with over 150 kills this season … Kris Bova is the Gator setter, averaging 12.93 assists per game … Florida is averaging 3.13 team blocks a game, led by Benavia Jenkins (1.73 per game).

Notre Dame – 2001 BIG EAST Champions:

Notre Dame won its sixth BIG EAST Championship title in seven years with a sweep of Connecticut on Saturday, Nov. 17, and a five-game victory over Georgetown in the championship match on Sunday, Nov. 18.

Notre Dame improved its record to 14-1 (.933) in BIG EAST Championship competition.

Malinda Goralski named BIG EAST Player of the Year and Championship Most Outstanding Player:

Notre Dame senior middle blocker Malinda Goralski was named the 2001 BIG EAST Player of the Year at the conference awards banquet on Friday, Nov. 16, and followed up by capturing the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player Award after leading the Irish to the team title over the weekend.

Goralski averaged 3.25 kills per game in the BIG EAST tournament, hitting .480 and averaging a block per game.

Kristen Kinder nabs Notre Dame’s second consecutive BIG EAST Setter of the Year award:

Sophomore setter Kristen Kinder was named the 2001 BIG EAST Setter of the Year at the conference awards banquet on Friday, Nov. 16, after leading the Irish to a .260 team hitting percentage this season in her first year as the team’s full-time setter. Kinder follows in the steps of 2000 setter of the year and ’00 graduate Denise Boylan, who earned the first conference setter award last year.

Kinder surpassed the 1,000 assist barrier during the BIG EAST Championship last weekend and is a fixture across the Irish boxscore in each match. Currently, she is averaging 11.85 assists per game, 0.93 kills, 0.36 aces (a team-high total of 33), 2.48 digs and 0.55 blocks.

Kinder’s current season assist average of 11.85 is seventh on the all-time single season list and she needs just 42 assists this season to break into the top-10 list for single-season assist total.

Home win streak:

Notre Dame completed its 2001 home schedule on Wednesday, Nov. 14, with a five-game victory over Illinois State. The Irish will carry a 20-match home win streak into the 2002 season next fall. Notre Dame’s last loss on the Joyce Center floor was to #7 Colorado State on Sept. 23, 2000.

The 20-match home win streak ranks second on Notre Dame’s all-time charts behind the 27-match streak the team compiled through Sept. 25, 1993, to Sept. 2, 1995.

Notre Dame in BIG EAST volleyball competition:

Since the Irish joined the BIG EAST Conference in 1995, they have posted an exceptional 76-2 (.974) regular-season conference mark. Notre Dame also has won 34 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 43-0 at home in regular-season BIG EAST matches.

Include the BIG EAST Championship matches and Notre Dame has posted a 83-3 (.965) record against conference teams since it entered the league in 1995.

NCAA Tournament appearance streak:

Once Debbie Brown helped the Irish get a taste of NCAA Tournament competition for just the second time in Notre Dame history in 1992, the Irish have been a staple in the tournament for 10 straight years, including the upcoming 2001 tournament (Notre Dame has earned the BIG EAST automatic bid to the tournament with its victory in the league championship last weekend).

Irish first team to earn 12 conference victories:

With the entrance of Virginia Tech into the BIG EAST Conference for volleyball this season, the Irish became the first team to win 12 BIG EAST Conference volleyball matches in conference history with its victories over St. John’s and Seton Hall last weekend.

In 2002, the University of Miami will begin BIG EAST volleyball competition.

Debbie Brown named 2001 BIG EAST Coach of the Year:

Notre Dame head volleyball coach Debbie Brown was named the 2001 BIG EAST Coach of the Year at the conference awards banquet on Friday, Nov. 16. Brown led the Irish to the conference’s first 12 win season in 2001 (with the addition of Virginia Tech to the league schedule) and also has guided the Irish through a tremendously successful run since they joined the league in 1995.

Since that first year of BIG EAST competition, Notre Dame is 83-3 against its conference opponents, has won all 43 BIG EAST Conference home matches and captured six regular season titles and six championship titles in seven seasons.

This marks the third time (’95, ’00, ’01) that Brown has been named BIG EAST Coach of the Year and 11th time in her career she has received an annual coaching award over the last 16 years.

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 10 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and six 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 canceled:

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.

Irish step up their team blocking:

Notre Dame enters this weekend’s conference challenge with 331 team blocks. As of Nov. 11, 2001, the Irish were ranked fourth in the nation in blocks per game (3.63).

In its 26 matches this season, Notre Dame has failed to reach double-digit blocks just eight times (posting nine blocks in five of those matches). In one notable performance the team blocked 21 attempts versus Georgetown.

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 (Notre Dame is currently averaging 3.59 as of Nov. 20).

Goralski leads BIG EAST:

Senior middle blocker Malinda Goralski is currently ranked at the top of two statistical categories in the BIG EAST conference rankings (as of Nov. 19). The Missouri City, Texas, native leads all league players in blocks per game with 1.73 (159 total). She also is ranked first in hitting percentage (.385) and plays a major role in Notre Dame’s top team ranking in blocks per game (3.59).

In the latest NCAA statistical rankings (Nov. 11), Goralski was ranked fifth in blocks per game (1.77) and among the top 30 in hitting percentage (.377).

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 23 out of 26 matches this season, including 12 double-digit dig matches.

She was all over the court against Illinois State on Wednesday, digging a career-best (and Notre Dame season high) 26 attacks.

Alderete currently leads the team in digs per game with a 2.91 average (268 total).

Not just a defensive threat, Alderete is second on the team with 25 aces this season and recorded a career-high four against Virginia Tech on Sept. 28.

Loomis emerges at BIG EAST Championship:

Freshman outside hitter Emily Loomis, who has been a fixture in the Irish starting lineup during her entire rookie season, stepped up to play a crucial role for the Irish in the BIG EAST Championship.

Recording a season and career high 19 kills in the championship match, Loomis made a number of outstanding shots down the line and through the Georgetown defense to help the team rally from a 2-1 deficit to win the match in five games.

In the tournament, Loomis was second on the team in kills (25, 3.13 per game), hit .278, had 19 digs (2.38 per game) and five blocks.

Loomis’ 19-kill, 10-dig effort vs. Georgetown gave the rookie her second double-double of the season (and second in three matches – after hitting 14 kills and 13 digs vs. Illinois State on Nov. 14).

The freshman’s hitting had been warming up entering the BIG EAST Championship and now, over the month of November, Loomis is averaging 3.00 kills per game, 2.19 digs per game, and 0.88 blocks per game.

Kreher hitting hard and accurate:

Senior opposite Kristy Kreher, the Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year and three-time league player of the week in 2001, has been posting some high kill numbers on accurate hitting for the Irish over the last few weeks.

The Birmingham, Mich., native, who recorded her 1,000th career kill earlier this season, recently set a career-best hitting mark with a .765 effort (13 kills, zero errors, 17 attempts) at Pittsburgh. She followed that performance up with a solid .421 effort against St. John’s on Friday, Nov. 9 and a 23-kill, 18-dig, nine-assist, five-block masterpiece vs. Illinois State on Nov. 14.

Kreher currently leads the team in kills (297) and boasts a .275 hitting percentage.

Career milestone:

Senior co-captain Marcie Bomhack reached the 1,000 kill barrier in the BIG EAST Championship match on Nov. 17. Bomhack now has 1,003 career kills.

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 15 road matches, a number that will increase even more as the Irish have qualified for the NCAA Championship. A key stretch of the Irish schedule began with the Oct. 17 match with #16 Northern Iowa, as Notre Dame 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 9-5 in matches away from the Joyce Center, 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 #7 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.

Career marks biting the dust:

Throughout the 2001 season, a number of Irish players have either equalled, or surpassed, their career-best numbers in several categories.

Here is a breakdown of the career numbers achieved this season:

Malinda Goralski: matched her career-highs in kills (18) and blocks (11) four different times this season.

Janie Alderete: Career-best 26 digs vs. Illinois State, four aces at Saint Louis.

Kim Fletcher: has reached a career-best 14 kills four times this season, posted a personal-best 10 blocks vs. Georgetown in the BIG EAST Championship match, personal-best 10 digs vs. Idaho.

Kristen Kinder: career-best 17 digs and 65 assists vs. Illinois State.

Christa Moen: career-best 13 digs vs. Illinois State.

Jessica Kinder: five aces vs. Villanova, seven kills at Providence, 10 digs at Connecticut.

Kristy Kreher: hitting percentage of .765 vs. Pittsburgh.

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.

Notre Dame signs five for next year: The University of Notre Dame volleyball team has announced the signings of five recruits for the 2002 season.

Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn.), Kelly Burrell (Pheonix, Ariz.), Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas), Meg Henican (New Orleans, La.) and Lauren Kelbley (Bascum, Ohio) have all signed letters of intent to enroll at Notre Dame in the fall of 2002 and will make up the volleyball class of 2006.

“We are very excited about this class,” head coach Debbie Brown says.

“Going into recruiting this year we thought we were going to give four scholarships. When the opportunity to sign this great class with five talented players presented itself, it was an opportunity we could not pass up.

“All five players will complement each other very well and will add valuable depth to our team next year. They are really going to help the competitive level of the team. I think this is one of the top five recruiting classes in the nation.”

Lauren Brewster played for Brentwood High School in Brentwood, Tenn., and helped the team earn four state titles during her prep career. A 6-3 middle blocker, she was named most valuable player of the state tournament in 2000 and 2001, leading Brentwood to an undefeated record during her junior and senior seasons. Brewster also earned the 2000 Tennessee mid-state player of the year award and was named the Gatorade Player of the Year from Tennessee in 2001.

Kelly Burrell is a 5-11 setter from Xavier College Prep in Pheonix, Ariz., and, like many of her classmates, has earned multiple state titles while playing in a successful high school program. A first-team all-regional selection in 2000 and 2001, Burrell will bring a strong court presence to the Irish roster next season.

Carolyn Cooper continues the tradition of outstanding middle blockers the Irish have landed from Texas. Current senior and all-star nominee Malinda Goralski and 2000 graduate Jo Jameyson were both from the same area of Texas as Cooper.

A 6-3 middle blocker, Cooper played for Lutheran South Academy in Houston, Texas, and was named the team MVP three times (1999-2001) while earning first-team all-state honors during those three seasons as well.

In an unusual twist, 5-11 outside hitter Meg Henican had the opportunity to earn five state championships during her prep career. Henican played at Newman High School in New Orleans, La., a kindergarten through 12th grade school, and started on the varsity team for five seasons – leading Newman to five consecutive state titles. She was a four-time AAU All-American and finished her high school career as the Gatorade Player of the Year from Louisiana in 2001.

Lauren Kelbley is a 6-1 middle blocker from Bascaum, Ohio, and played at Hopewell-Loudon High School. She helped the team to the four-straight Ohio Division IV state titles during her career while earning all-conference, all-district and all-state honors at the end of each season.

2001 Notre Dame player profiles:

* – indicates season high number also is a career-high

#1 Emily Loomis

Freshman outside hitter has started 24 of 26 matches, including her first career match vs. Southwest Texas State in the Shamrock Classic … recorded first career double-digit kill match vs. Idaho in Shamrock Invitational title match … served four aces in five-game victory at Toledo … posted seven blocks in Irish victory over St. John’s … notable performances: 12 kills (.292 hitting), seven digs, seven blocks, one aces vs. St. John’s (Nov. 9), 14 kills, 13 digs vs. Illinois State (Nov. 14), 19 kills, 10 digs vs. Georgetown in BIG EAST Championship final match (Nov. 18).

Double-digit kill matches: 9

Double-digit dig matches: 2

Matches with team-high kills: 4

Career/season bests:

Kills: 19, vs. GTown (11-18)

Digs: 13, vs. Ill.St. (11-14)

Blocks: 7, vs. SJU (11-9)

Hit. %: .381 (10-2-21), vs. Pitt (11-14)

#3 Malinda Goralski

2001 BIG EAST Player of the Year … 2001 BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player … starting middle blocker, depending on which rotation the team starts the match in … has played in all 92 games for the Irish this season … leads team in hitting percentage (.385) and blocks per game (1.73) … the most consistent offensive threat on the team this season – scoring less than six kills in just one match … has matched her career-high in blocks (11) and kills (18) four times this season … notable performances: 18 kills, 10 blocks at Kentucky (Oct. 23), 15 kills on .714 hitting vs. Valparaiso (Sept. 18), 18 kills, 11 blocks vs. Illinois State (Nov. 14).

Double-digit kill matches: 18

Double-digit block matches: 4

Matches with team-high kills: 7

Season bests:

Kills: 18*, four times

Blocks: 11*, four times

Hit %: .714 (15-0-21) vs. Valpo (9-18)

#4 Kristy Kreher

2001 all-BIG EAST first team unanimous selection … three-time BIG EAST Player of the Week … starting opposite for the team … leads the team in kills (297) and kills per game (3.34) … second in assists with 84 … third in aces with 22 … third in blocks with 94 … recorded an eye-popping .765 hitting mark at Pittsburgh (13-0-17) on Nov. 4 … four double-doubles this season … has two 20-or-more kill matches this season, giving her nine in her career – a mark that ranks fifth in Irish history … her 13 matches with team-high kills this season gives her 31 for her career – a mark that ranks ninth on the all-time list … with 16 double-digit kills, she now has 68 such matches in her career – a mark tied for fourth on the all-time charts … notable performances: 14 kills, 11 digs vs. Syracuse (Sept. 22), 19 kills, 13 digs vs. Toledo (Oct. 2), 23 kills, 18 digs vs. Illinois State (Nov. 14).

Double-digit kill matches: 16

Double-digit dig matches: 5

Matches with team-high kills: 13

Season bests:

Kills: 23, vs. Ill.St. (11-14)

Digs: 18, vs. Ill.St. (11-14)

Blocks: 7, vs. GTown (9-30)

Hit %: .765*, (13-0-17) vs. Pitt (11-4)

#5 Jessica Kinder

Has played in all 26 matches and in 67 of the team’s 92 games … used off the bench as a defensive replacement, but also gives the Irish an offensive punch with aggressive hitting and powerful jump serve … served five aces vs. Villanova on Oct. 12 … notable performances: five kills, five aces, five digs vs. Villanova (Oct. 12) , seven kills, eight digs, three blocks vs. Providence (Oct. 28), 10 digs vs. UConn (Oct. 7).

Season bests:

Kills: 7*, vs. Prov. (10-28)

Digs: 10*, vs. UConn (10-7)

Blocks: 3*, twice

Aces: 5*, vs. Vill. (10-12)

#6 Marcie Bomhack

Senior co-captain has played in 90 of the team’s 92 games this season … had developed into one of Notre Dame’s top offensive threats late in the season … usually first person off the bench to sub for starting DS Keara Coughlin in the front line … surpassed the 1,000 career kills barrier in the BIG EAST Championship match vs. Georgetown on Nov. 18 … notable performances: 15 kills, five digs, three blocks vs. Illinois State (11-14), 15 kills, nine blocks vs. West Virginia (11-3).

Double-digit kill matches: 7

Matches with team-high kills: 4

Season bests:

Kills: 15, twice

Digs: 7, vs. Idaho (9-1)

Blocks: 9*, vs. WVU (11-3)

#8 Kristen Kinder

2001 BIG EAST Setter of the Year … 2001 Second-team all-BIG EAST … starting setter … leads the team in aces with 33 … had 10 double-doubles and recently surpassed the 1,000 assist mark for the season … notable performances: 65 assists, 17 digs vs. Illinois State (11-14), 56 assists, 16 digs, four digs, four blocks vs. Toledo (10-2).

Double-digit digs matches: 10

Season bests:

Kills: 7, vs. SLU (10-24)

Assists: 65, vs. Ill.St. (11-14)

Digs: 17, vs. Ill.St. (11-14)

Blocks: 6, twice

Hit %: .636 (7-0-11), vs. SLU (10-24)

#10 Kim Fletcher

2001 Second-Team All-BIG EAST … has played in 88 of the team’s 92 games this season … a starter at middle blocker … earned the Shamrock Invitational MVP award … second on the team in blocks … possesses the all-around kills necessary to play across the rotation … notable performances: 14 kills, 10 digs vs. Idaho (9-1) … 14 kills, seven blocks vs. Toledo (10-2) … 10 kills, 10 blocks vs. Georgetown (11-18).

Double-digit kills matches: 8

Matches with team-high kills: 3

Season bests:

Kills: 14*, four times

Blocks: 10*, vs. GTown (11-18)

Digs: 10*, vs. Idaho (9-1)

Hit %: .684 (13-0-19) vs. SW T (8-31)

#11 Keara Coughlin

Starter at DS depending on rotation Irish set to begin match … serves as co-captain of the team with Marcie Bomhack … one of the best passers on the team … notable performances: 10 digs vs. UConn (10-7), 10 digs vs. Illinois State (11-14).

#13 Christa Moen

Is used off the bench mostly but has also started … has a great serve that keeps the defense off balance … notable performances: two aces, five digs vs. Providence (10-28), 13 digs vs. Illinois State (11-14).

#14 Janie Alderete

Has developed into one of Notre Dame’s most effective back row players … subs in for middle blocker Malinda Goralski in the back row … second on the team in aces with 25 … recorded a season-high 26 digs vs. Illinois State.

Double-digit dig matches: 11