Sept. 3, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The second week of the 2009 volleyball season will see Notre Dame travel to Cincinnati for the Xavier Invitational at the Cintas Center. Xavier rolls out the carpet for the Irish, Tennessee and No. 7 Michigan. The meeting with the Wolverines marks the first time since 2007 that Notre Dame has faced a top-10 team within a span of several days (the Irish defeated No. 5 Stanford last Saturday, 3-0). Notre Dame faced back-to-back top-10 teams to kickoff the 2007 season and fell to both No. 9 Minnesota (Aug. 24) and No. 7 Florida (Aug. 26).
“We’re looking forward to another challenging weekend of competition,” Irish head coach Debbie Brown said. “The team learned a lot about themselves in the opening weekend, and the high-caliber teams we’re preparing to face at the Xavier Invitational should put us in a perfect position to make an early-season run.”
Cintas Center â€¢ Cincinnati, Ohio
Friday-Sunday, Sept. 4-6
Live stats: und.com
Live video: und.com (Xavier match only)
IRISH ALERTS (text-messaging): Sign up on volleyball page at und.com
Tickets: Cintas Ticket Center / 513.745.3389 / goxavier.com
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2-1 overall / 0-0 BIG EAST
[und.com â€¢ bigeast.org]
1-2 overall / 0-0 Atlantic 10
[goxavier.com â€¢ atlantic10.com]
Tennessee Lady Vols
3-0 overall / 0-0 Southeastern
[utladyvols.com â€¢ secsports.com]
No. 7 Michigan Wolverines
2-0 overall / 0-0 Big 10
[mgoblue.com â€¢ bigten.org]
Sept. 4 – 4:00 p.m. – Michigan vs. Tennessee
Sept. 4 – 7:00 p.m. – Xavier vs. Notre Dame
Sept. 5 – 2:30 p.m. – Tennessee vs. Notre Dame
Sept. 5 – 5:30 p.m. – Xavier vs. Michigan
Sept. 6 – 12:00 p.m. – Notre Dame vs. Michigan
Sept. 6 – 3:00 p.m. – Xavier vs. Tennessee
*home team listed first
*all times local to site (ET)
The Field …
– Series: Notre Dame leads, 10-1
– First meeting: 9.30.83 – at Xavier – Notre Dame, 3-2
– Last meeting: 11.28.08 – at Notre Dame – Notre Dame, 3-0
– The Irish finished the 2008 season with a home win against Xavier … in fact, the 3-0 sweep started a streak of nine-straight sets won for Notre Dame which extended through the first two matches of the 2009 campaign … the Irish have not dropped a single set to the Musketeers since 1991 (16 consecutive set wins) … Notre Dame and Xavier first met in 1983 (Notre Dame won the match, 3-2) … Xavier’s lone win in the series came on a neutral floor in Chicago during the 1984 North Star Conference Championship … the Irish have won each of the last eight meetings between the two teams … Notre Dame and Xavier squared off on at least one occasion in each of the seasons from 1990-1994 (twice in 1993) … they enjoyed a healthy rivalry as members of the North Star and Midwestern Conferences from 1983-1994 … Xavier was picked to finish third in the Atlantic 10 behind Dayton and defending conference champion St. Louis … the Musketeers opened the season last week at the Middle Tennessee Invitational and defeated Murray State in first-round action before falling to Kansas and the host Blue Raiders … senior outside hitter Hillary Otte leads the offense with 3.50 kills/set.
– Series: Tied, 1-1
– First meeting: 11.26.05 – at Notre Dame – Tennessee, 3-2
– Last meeting: 11.23.07 – at Tennessee – Notre Dame, 3-1
– In 2007, Notre Dame made its first-ever trip to the Volunteer State and came back with a 3-1 win over the Lady Vols … that came two years after the first meeting when No. 7 Notre Dame dropped a five-set match to Tennessee during the Irish Thanksgiving Invitational … Irish volunteer assistant coach Adrianna Stasiuk was a senior on the 2007 team that defeated the Lady Vols, which was also the last match of the All-American’s career … with a sweep of Lipscomb last Saturday, Tennessee laid claim to the Comcast Lady Vol Classic title for the fifth time in six seasons … junior Nikki Fowler was tabbed as the tournament MVP while senior Farren Powe and freshman Leslie Cikra also earned mentioned on the all-tournament team … Tennessee tallied a 22-10 record in 2008, finished third in the Southeastern Conference and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in six years … the Lady Vols also recorded the third-largest turnaround in NCAA Division I, doubling their win total from 2007 … they were picked to finished third in the SEC-East in 2009.
– Series: Notre Dame leads, 8-4
– First meeting: 9.11.82 – at Michigan – Michigan, 2-0
– Last meeting: 8.27.05 – at Notre Dame – Notre Dame, 3-0
– This will be the first time Notre Dame and Michigan will meet on a neutral floor … the two teams have split the last four meetings since 2000 … the Irish rattled off six consecutive wins over the Wolverines from 1987-1996 … for the seventh time in the series, one of the two teams will be ranked heading into the match (Notre Dame has been ranked five times – most recently 21st in 2000 – while Michigan was tabbed 23rd in 1999) … Michigan began the season ranked 16th, but on the heels of a 2-0 weekend at the Runza/AVCA Showcase (Aug. 28-29) with a sweep of No. 3 Nebraska and a four-set win over No. 22-ranked Kansas State, the Wolverines jumped nine spots to No. 7 in the AVCA poll, the highest ranking in program history … the Wolverines have twice before cracked the top 10, most recently in the Sept. 17, 2007, poll at No. 10 … the win over Nebraska was the first for Michigan over a top-five team and the 22nd time under head coach Mark Rosen that Michigan defeated a top-25 program … Juliana Paz, Lex Zimmerman and Alex Hunt were all named to the AVCA Showcase All-Tournament team … Michigan is 2-0 for the 18th time in program history.
Next week: Notre Dame returns to the Joyce Center Fieldhouse to host the Notre Dame / adidas Invitational (Sept. 11-13) … Wisconsin and New Mexico make up the opposing squads in the tri-tournament.
Bump, Set, Spike …
â€¢ Notre Dame went 2-1 while hosting last week’s Shamrock Invitational … a pair of sweeps over Denver (Aug. 28) and No. 5 Stanford (Aug. 29) came before LSU blanked the Irish on the final day competition … the 2009 edition of the Shamrock Invitational marked the 15th time Notre Dame hosted the event … the Irish first held the tournament in 1993 and hold an all-time record of 37-7 (.841) in the showcase … with the win over Denver, Notre Dame is now 23-7 (18-1 under head coach Debbie Brown) in home openers … it also boosted the program’s record to 4-0 against Sun Belt Conference teams … the Irish are 18-8 (.692) in the month of August and 16-5 (.762) at home in August.
â€¢ Last week’s three matches were played in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse, a spot in which the Irish have competed just once previously (lost to No. 7 Florida, 3-1, on Aug. 26, 2007) … Notre Dame is 2-2 in the confines with two of those matches being played against top-10 teams … furthermore, the 1,843 fans in attendance to watch Notre Dame knock off No. 5 Stanford (Aug. 29) was the largest crowd to view a game in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse and the 15th-best attended match overall in Irish history.
â€¢ Irish head coach Debbie Brown has shelved over 400 wins with Notre Dame and won five BIG EAST Conference Coach of the Year awards since joining the league in 1995 … the 2009 season is her 19th at the helm of the Fighting Irish program … with a career record of 541-247 (.687) in her 25th season as a head coach, Brown has a 426-164 (.722) mark at Notre Dame.
Upward Bound …
Notre Dame is receiving votes (67) in the latest AVCA Top 25 Poll, just two spots behind 25th-ranked Wichita State … the Irish last received votes in the poll on Sept. 17, 2007 … RichKern.com deemed Notre Dame the 32nd-best team in the nation according to its Aug. 31 poll.
Conquering the Cardinal …
For just the second time in program history – and the first since 1993 – Notre Dame earned a win over a top-five opponent, as the Irish dealt No. 5 Stanford a 3-0 loss on Aug. 29 … Notre Dame’s last win over a ranked opponent came at home against Louisville on Nov. 11, 2007, while the lone win versus a top-five opponent came on Sept. 25, 1993, when the 14th-ranked Irish defeated No. 3 Nebraska at the Joyce Center … the Irish and Cardinal last met in 2003 with Stanford pulling out a 3-0 win … the 2008 NCAA Championship runner-up had never dropped a match to Notre Dame in six tries until this season … the Irish have earned 32 wins against ranked teams and 13 victories over top-10 teams.
BIG EAST Deals Honor To Dealy …
Sophomore Kristen Dealy was named to the BIG EAST Honor Roll (Aug. 31) one day after being tabbed to Shamrock Invitational all-tournament team … the outside hitter narrowly missed out on a pair of double-doubles during Irish sweeps over Denver (Aug. 28) and No. 5 Stanford (Aug. 29) … Dealy had nine kills against both the Pioneers and Cardinal before peppering LSU with 15 on a .400 average … she also cleanly fielded 40 consecutive serves through three matches before committing an error … Dealy led Notre Dame with 3.67 kills/set and 2.78 digs/set over the three matches.
All-Tournament Nods …
Senior Serinity Phillips joined sophomore Kristen Dealy on the Shamrock Invitational all-tournament team … Dealy led the Irish against the Tigers with 15 kills while narrowly missing out on double-doubles in Notre Dame’s first two matches … Phillips steadied the Irish attack with 3.11 kills/set and 2.89 digs/set in the three matches … LSU’s Michele Williams, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, finished the three-match event with 37 kills (2.85/set) and 19 blocks (1.46/set) … Brittnee Cooper (LSU), Cassidy Lichtman (Stanford), Gabi Ailes (Stanford) and Emmy Davidsmeyer (Denver) rounded out the all-tournament team.
Notes On The ‘Nati …
This will be Notre Dame’s first appearance in Xavier’s Cintas Center … the last time Notre Dame played in the Queen City was in 2008 when the Irish fell to BIG EAST foe Cincinnati (Oct. 5) by a 3-1 count … senior Megan Fesl’s sister, Annie, is a setter for Cincinnati … in fact, Cincinnati hosts their Bearcat Invitational this weekend at Fifth Third Arena … Megan’s parents, Rich and Joanie Fesl, will certainly see their fair share of volleyball between the combined six matches in which their daughters will be playing … seniors Tara Enzweiler and Jamel Nicholas both have numerous relatives and family friends who live in the Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky area.
Smacks By Sciacca …
Early into her third season with the Irish, junior middle blocker Kellie Sciacca already sits second on Notre Dame’s career list for hitting percentage … Sciacca’s mark of .338 still significantly trails Malinda Goralski’s (’01) best of .361 … Sciacca has totaled 591 kills on 1,204 attacks with 184 errors … on the program’s single-season chart, Sciacca’s averages of .343 (2007) and .332 (2008) rank eighth and tenth, respectively.
The Giver …
Senior Jamel Nicholas is the lone setter on the Irish roster and cracked the program’s all-time assists list last year by bringing her total to 1,958 … she has since eclipsed the 2,000-assist mark after notching 100 in nine sets played during the season-opening Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 28-30) … Nicholas, who is averaging 11.11 assists/set in 2009, led the team in assists in each of last season’s 31 matches and has a career average of 6.24 assists/set.
Preseason Honors …
Senior outside hitter Christina Kaelin and junior middle blocker Kellie Sciacca both earned all-BIG EAST preseason nods, as voted upon by the league’s coaches … the duo brought home second team all-BIG EAST honors at the conclusion of last year’s regular season … Kaelin went on to rack up all-region and Honorable Mention All-America honors from the AVCA in 2009 … Notre Dame was picked alongside Cincinnati to finish second in the BIG EAST standings.
All In the Family …
Senior Tara Enzweiler will be joined on campus this year by a few familiar faces … two of her brothers, Thomas and Matthew, are also undergraduates at the University … moreover, each of the three were valedictorians at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, N.C.
Bringing ‘Em Back …
The Irish added two new – but recognizable – members to their coaching staff during the offseason in assistant coach Robin Davis and volunteer assistant coach Adrianna Stasiuk …Davis was named assistant volleyball coach in June 2009 … Davis, who spent the last three seasons as the head coach at Boise State, rejoined the Irish after spending five seasons with the Notre Dame program from 2001-2005 … with the arrival of Davis in 2006, Boise State got an immediate boost to its program … in his first season with the program, Davis posted the largest win increase for a first-year coach in Bronco history in leading the squad to 13 wins, five more than the 2005 edition of the Broncos … as an assistant coach with Notre Dame for four seasons and an associate head coach for one season, Davis helped lead the Fighting Irish to five consecutive BIG EAST Conference regular-season championships and appearances at the NCAA Tournament, reaching the round of 16 in 2005 … Notre Dame also finished that year with its highest-ever final national ranking – No. 12 in the AVCA poll and No. 11 in the Volleyball Magazine poll … Stasiuk was a four-time monogram winner with the Irish volleyball team from 2003-2007 … a three-time all-BIG EAST honoree, Stasiuk also copped All-American honors as a sophomore and was twice named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District first team … she also became only the seventh Irish player ever to register 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career.
Freshmen Orientation …
Three highly touted freshmen will see action for the Irish this season … outsider hitter Marie Roof (Muskegon, Mich./Mona Shores), middle blocker Hilary Eppink (Westfield, Ind./Westfield) and libero Christina Theofilos (Tampa, Fla./Berkeley) each dominated the prep volleyball circuits in their respective regions of the country before donning the blue and gold … Eppink was part of Volleyball Magazine’s “Fab 50”, Theofolis was a PrepVolleyball.com All-American and Roof was a finalist for Michigan’s Miss Volleyball award … Eppink made her collegiate debut at the Shamrock Invite against Denver, registering one kill on her lone swing along with a solo block.
This Calls for a Party …
Eight members of the Notre Dame volleyball team traveled to Florida in late April and came back to campus with the team title after winning the Collegiate Beach Volleyball Challenge at Fiesta On Siesta Key … the four tandems of Megan Fesl and Angela Puente, Kellie Sciacca and Frenchy Silva, Kristen Dealy and Serinity Phillips, and Christina Kaelin and Beth Wildermuth totaled enough points in both pool and championship play to earn the distinction for the Irish … the Fiesta On Siesta Key tournament featured 48 two-person teams … the initial stage of the tournament had teams broken into 12 pools … at the conclusion of pool play, the top 16 overall teams moved to the Gold bracket, the next 16 to the Silver bracket and the final 16 to the Bronze bracket … all four of Notre Dame’s teams won or came in second in their respective groupings during pool play.
Action Across the Pond …
Notre Dame spent nearly two weeks in Italy this past summer while posting a 6-1 record against the nation’s finest club teams on top of splitting a pair of matches against the Italian Junior National Team … Notre Dame hoisted the championship trophy after sweeping through four matches unscathed at the Margie Himmelberg Memorial Tournament in Modica, Italy. … at the tournament, Christina Kaelin was named “Best Attacker”, Kellie Sciacca was named “Best Blocker” and Serinity Phillips was named the showdown’s MVP.
Looking Back at 2008 …
With a 17-14 overall record (9-5 BIG EAST) Notre Dame secured its 22nd winning season since the program’s inception in 1980 and 18th consecutive (each of the 18 coming under the direction of head coach Debbie Brown) … the completion of the 2008 BIG EAST Championship saw the Irish earn a spot in the final match for the 13th time in 14 seasons since joining the league in 1995 … Notre Dame now sports a 27-5 (.844) all-time record in the league tournament with nine championships and four runner-up finishes … the Irish have faced Louisville in each of the last four conference tournaments while falling to the Cardinals in three of those matches – and twice in the finale … Notre Dame downed Louisville for the 2005 title … four Notre Dame players – Christina Kaelin, Serinity Phillips, Justine Stremick and Kellie Sciacca – were named to the all-BIG EAST second team … the season marked the first time ever that Notre Dame had four players on the second team … Kristen Dealy found a spot on the league’s all-tournament squad.