Aug. 29, 1997
No. 17 Notre Dame Opens 1997 Campaign by Hosting Shamrock Invitational
LET THE GAMES BEGIN: The University of Notre Dame volleyball team opens its season this weekend by playing host to the Shamrock Invitational, an event in which all four teams were participants in the 1996 NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame enters the tournament ranked #17 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association/USA Today preseason poll while a second team in the Shamrock Invitational, Wisconsin, is ranked 18th in the preseason AVCA poll. The tournament's other two entries--Louisville (83) and Oral Roberts (5)--also received votes in the preseason AVCA poll, with Louisville receiving the 29th-most votes from the 60 voting coaches. The tournament schedule breaks down as follows, with all matches held at Notre Dame's Joyce Center Arena:
Friday, Aug. 29 5:00 PM Oral Roberts vs. Wisconsin 7:30 PM Notre Dame vs. Louisville Saturday, Aug. 30 10:30 AM Wisconsin vs. Louisville 1:00 PM Notre Dame vs. Oral Roberts 5:00 PM Louisville vs. Oral Roberts 7:30 PM Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin
TOUGH FIELD: The Shamrock Invitational stacks up as one of the top early-season tournament in the country this season, as each of the four teams participated in the 1996 NCAA Tournament ... Wisconsin and Louisville both advanced to the round of 16 while Notre Dame lost in the second round to Ohio State and Oral Roberts dropped a first-round match to Colorado ... the four teams posted a combined record of 100-30 during the 1996 season and return a combined 17 of 24 starters this season ... Notre Dame is coming off a 22-12 season and returns five starters--senior hitter Jaimie Lee and Angie Harris, senior setter Carey Mat, junior middle Lindsay Treadwell and sophomore middle Mary Leffers--while welcoming a freshman class that Student Sports magazine dubbed best in the nation ... Wisconsin is coming off a 25-8 season and also returns five starters: senior middle Heather Dodara, senior hitter Amy Lee, sophomore middle Kelly Kennedy, sophomore hitter Marisa Mackey and freshman hitter Kate Fitzgerald ... Louisville went 26-5 in 1996 and returns three starters: senior middle Sonia Gubaidulina, senior hitter Annie Filley and junior hitter Marina Sinichenko ... Oral Roberts was 27-5 last season and welcomes back four starters: senior hitter Sandra Paula Theis, junior hitter Erica Favero, junior setter Debora dos Santos and sophomore middle Juliana Moser.
QUICK NOTRE DAME NOTES: The Irish have eight players who are six feet or taller on the 1997 roster, including a noticeable boost on the rightside block due to a pair of 6-1 probable starters: sophomore opposite Emily Schiebout and freshman setter Denise Boylan ... Notre Dame's probable starting lineup for the Shamrock Invitational includes three "locals": Boylan (Lisle, IL), senior hitter Angie Harris (Fort Wayne, IN) and sophomore hitter Mandi Powell (Monrovia, IN) ... Schiebout and freshman Adrienne Shimmel have a unique connection, as each has a twin brother ... senior hitter Jaimie Lee will not play in the Shamrock Invitational, as she will be wrapping up competition this week as captain of the U.S. team that is going for the gold medal in Sicily at the World University Games ... Lee played in 104 of 105 matches during her first three seasons and has not missed a match since the Sept. 15, 1995 matchup against North Carolina State (a string of 62 straight matches played) ... the Notre Dame volleyball, women's soccer and women's basketball teams posted a combined 148-38-2 record during the past two seasons (for a combined .790 winning percentage) ... the Irish volleyball team averaged 27.5 wins per season from 1991-96 ... Notre Dame's 1997 schedule includes eight opponents who are ranked in the AVCA preseason top 25: #4 Florida, #5 Long Beach, #7 Washington State, #9 Texas, #12 UC Santa Barbara, #13 Texas A&M, #18 Wisconsin and #23 Colorado ... seven other '97 Irish opponents received votes in the preseason poll: Louisville, Houston, Pittsburgh, Georgia, North Carolina, Oral Roberts and Illinois State ... of the 19 potential non-conference opponents on Notre Dame's '97 schedule, only five did not receive votes in the preseason AVCA poll (Gonzaga, Utah, California, New Mexico and Marquette) ... Notre Dame has not lost a match to a conference opponent during the Debbie Brown era (since 1991), going 63-0 over that stretch .. in two years of BIG EAST Conference play, the Irish have won 22 of their 26 matches against conference foes in three games (Pittsburgh has forced the Irish to four games on three occasions while Villanova stretched the Irish to five games last season).
HOMECOMINGS: The Shamrock Invitational will feature 17 players who hail from Indiana or Illinois ... that group includes eight from Notre Dame: Angie Harris (Fort Wayne), senior Molly McCarthy (Indianapolis), sophomore Mandi Powell (Monrovia), sophomore Lauren Stettin (Burr Ridge, Ill.), sophomore Theresa Seidle and freshman Christi Girton (both from Muncie), freshman Denise Boylan (Lisle, Ill.) and freshman Katie Ward (Chicago, Ill.) ... Wisconsin has four players who grew up within a few hours of Notre Dame: Marisa Mackey and sophomore Keylee Wright (both from Muncie), Heather Dodaro (Oak Lawn, Ill.) and Kelly Kennedy (Barrington Hills, Ill.) ... Louisville has four players who hail from the vicinity of South Bend: senior Molly Murray (Indianapolis), senior Randa Shields (Mishawaka), junior Casey Shelton (Pekin, Ind.) and freshman Kelly McClain (Kankakee, Ill.) ... Oral Roberts has one Midwest native on its roster: sophomore Lisa Hagrelius (Mahomet, Ill.).
FAMILIAR FACES: Several Notre Dame players hail from the same club program as players from the other teams in the '97 Shamrock Invitational ... Angie Harris, Christi Girton and Theresa Seidle are products of a Munciana Volleyball Club that also has produced Wisconsin's Marisa Mackey ... Molly McCarthy and Mandi Powell hail from the same Circle City VBC that produced Louisville's Molly Murray ... Lauren Stettin and Denise Boylan will be reunited with former Sport Performance VBC members Kelly Kennedy and Heather Dodara when Notre Dame faces Wisconsin.
TOP PLAYERS TO WATCH: Notre Dame senior hitter Angie Harris was an all-district performer as a sophomore before suffering through knee problems as a junior ... Harris, who is back to full strength heading into the 1997 season opener, owns seven Notre Dame service ace records (including 180 in her career and nine in a match) while her career kill average of 3.86/gm would set a new Irish record in that category ... Denise Boylan--the 1996-97 Gatorade national high school player of the year--is slated to become the first freshman to start the season opener at setter for Notre Dame since 1988 ... Wisconsin senior middle blocker Heather Dodaro was named to the preseason All-Big Ten Conference team, as was Wisconsin senior hitter Amy Lee ... Dodaro and Lee are fourth-year starters and Dodara, a 1996 all-district selection, ranked fifth in the nation during '96 with 1.77 blocks per game ... Lee is on track to become Wisconsin's career kill leader and averaged 3.69 kills per game in 1996 ... Louisville sophomore middle Sonia Gubaidulina and sophomore hitter Marina Sinichenko have fond memories of the Joyce Center after leading the Cardinals to the 1996 Big Four Classic title in the Notre Dame facility ... Gubaidulina, a 1996 all-district pick, was the Big Four Classic MVP while Sinichenko--the 1996 Conference USA freshman of the year--earned a spot on the all-tournament team ... the top returnees for Oral Roberts are senior hitters Sandra Paula Theis and Erica Favero ... Theis averaged 2.75 kills per game in 1996 while totaling 45 aces ... Favero led ORU in '96 with 3.02 kills/gm while sharing the team aces lead with Theis (45).
ODEN, JOHNSON MAKE MOVE TO DIVISION I COACHING RANKS: The Shamrock Invitational will serve as the Division I debut for two assistant coaches: Notre Dame's Elaina Oden and Wisconsin's Christy Johnson ... both players earned All-America honors while leading their respective teams to NCAA titles ... Oden was an All-American middle blocker at the University of the Pacific in 1985, 1986 and '89 while leading UOP to NCAA titles in '85 and '86 ... Johnson was an All-American setter at Nebraska in 1994 and '95 and directing the Cornhuskers offense that captured the 1995 NCAA title ... Oden and Johnson have limited past coaching experience on the high school and club levels but will get their first taste of Division I coaching on Aug. 29 when Notre Dame opens against Louisville and Wisconsin faces Louisville.
NEW SETTERS THE NORM: Each of the four teams in the 1997 Shamrock Invitational will be opening the season with a new primary setter ... freshman Denise Boylan--the 1996-97 Gatorade national high school player of the year--is slated to open at setter for Notre Dame against Louisville, after earning the starting nod over senior Carey May (who still is not 100% after coming back from spring shoulder surgery) ... Wisconsin junior Coleen Neels is looking to fill the shoes of graduated All-American Laura Abbinante ... Neels started three matches in 1996, including the first-round NCAA Tournament win over Colgate ... transfer Anne Kordes (University of Cincinnati) is the probable starter for Louisville after the departure of four-year starter and 1996 Conference USA setter of the year Stephanie Storen ... Oral Roberts returns four starters, including junior setter Debora dos Santos, who split setting duties in 1996 with the graduated Edla Sibele Theis (Theis had 736 assists in '96 while dos Santos had 610).
NOTRE DAME LOOKS FOR SEVENTH STRAIGHT SEASON-OPENING WIN: Notre Dame is 6-0 in season-opening matches during the tenure of head coach Debbie Brown, with the '97 opener against Louisville looming as potentially the greatest season-opening challenge in the Brown era ... Notre Dame presented Brown with a memorable win in her first match at Notre Dame, as the Irish claimed game four 15-13 and game five 16-14 to defeat Purdue at the Joyce Center in the 1991 opener ... 1992 saw the Irish post a 3-1 home win over Ball State to open the campaign and the Irish topped Valparaiso to open both the 1993 and '94 seasons (both matches were 3-0, with the '93 matchup held at Valparaiso and the '94 match at Notre Dame) ... the Irish will be opening their season at a home tournament for the third straight season, after beating Northwestern in the 1995 Notre Dame Invitational (3-1) and eventual NCAA Tournament participant Central Florida in the '96 Shamrock Invitational (3-0) ... the Irish also are 6-0 in home openers under Brown, having defeated Cal State Northridge (3-0) in mid-September of 1993 after opening that season with seven straight road matches.
IRISH HOPING TO START NEW HOME TOURNAMENT STREAK: Notre Dame won five straight tournaments at the Joyce Center from 1994-96--including the 1996 BIG EAST Tournament--before losing a five-game heartbreaker to eventual champion Louisville in the 1996 Big Four Classic ... the Irish have won nine of 16 tournament held at the Joyce Center since 1986 and have captured seven of 10 home tournament titles at the Joyce Center during the Debbie Brown era (since 1991).
IRISH TOUGH AT HOME: Notre Dame has won nearly 90% of its home matches during the Debbie Brown era (1991- ), going 79-9 over that stretch (.898) ... the Irish are 9-6 in home matches against ranked teams since the beginning of the 1991 season ... Notre Dame has won 45 of its last 46 home matches against unranked opponents, losing in five games last season to Ball State (the Irish are 70-3 at home against unranked teams in the Brown era).
SHAMROCK TEAMS TO MEET FOR FIRST TIME IN A LONG TIME: Although the Notre Dame-Louisville series has been a very competitive one in recent year and includes 12 total matches, the remaining matchups in the 1997 Shamrock Invitational will provide some rarely-seen pairings ... Oral Roberts and Wisconsin will meet for the first time on Aug. 29, in the tournament's opening match ... the only previous meeting between Notre Dame and Wisconsin came in 1987 ... Louisville and Wisconsin have met just once previously, in 1985, while Louisville and Oral Roberts have not played since the series' first match in 1983 ... Notre Dame and Oral Roberts met in the 1995 NCAA Tournament (a 3-0 ORU win), marking the only meeting between the teams aside form a 1983 match.
ORAL ROBERTS VS. WISCONSIN (first meeting)
NOTRE DAME VS. LOUISVILLE (ND leads 10-2): Easily the most intriguing rivalry of the tournament, as each of the last three matches between these teams have been decided in five games ... the Irish won the first six matches of the series, including a 15-7 fifth-game win in the '92 Big Four Classic, before the Cardinals broke through with a 3-1 win at home late in the '92 campaign ... Notre Dame struck back at the '93 Big Four, winning 3-1 (at Kentucky) and posted two wins over Louisville in 1994, including a 3-1 win at the Big Four (held that year in Louisville) and an exciting 15-12, 9-15, 15-17, 15-1, 15-13 midseason victory ... Notre Dame posted its third five-game win in the series history at the '95 Big Four (held at Indiana University), after claiming game four 15-4 and game five 15-7 ... Louisville finally turned the five-game tables on Notre Dame at the Joyce Center in '96 en route to the Big Four title, pulling off an 0-2 comeback (12-15, 3-15, 15-13, 15-7, 15-12) ... UL freshman hitter Marina Sinichenko recorded 18 of her match-high 22 kills in the final three games of that '96 matchup ... the Irish led 11-8 in the final game before the visitors scored five straight points en route to the victory ... the marathon third game lasted 45 minutes and the score was just 2-2 after 22 service rotations.
LOUISVILLE VS. WISCONSIN (UL leads 1-0): The only meeting between these teams came way back in 1985, when Louisville came away with the victory.
NOTRE DAME VS. ORAL ROBERTS (ORU leads 2-0): Just as with Louisville, Notre Dame remembers its last meeting with Oral Roberts as a painful loss ... the Golden Eagles downed the Irish (15-9, 15-11, 15-4) in the regional round of the 1995 NCAA Tournament (held at Stanford) ... four ORU players posted double-digit kills in that match, including current junior Debora dos Santos (16 kills, .313 hitting), who is slated to be a primary setter during the '97 season after serving as an opposite during the '95 meeting with the Irish ... current junior Lindsay Treadwell led the Irish in that match with 12 kills on .276 hitting while current senior Angie Harris had 10 kills before suffering a major ACL injury ... ORU also posted a 3-0 win over Notre Dame in 1983, at the season-opening Kentucky Wildcat Invitational.
LOUISVILLE VS. ORAL ROBERTS (UL leads 1-0): The only previous meeting in this series came in 1983, when the Cardinals posted a 3-0 victory.
NOTRE DAME VS. WISCONSIN (tied 1-1): The teams have not met since 1987, when the Irish posted a 15-3, 7-15, 15-12, 15-10 home victory ... the Badgers won the only other previous meeting, at home by scores of 15-13, 3-15, 15-9, 15-13.
LEE TO MISS SHAMROCK WHILE GOING FOR GOLD: Notre Dame senior outside hitter Jaimie Lee, who earned MVP honors at the 1996 Shamrock Invitational while serving as the team's emergency fill-in setter, will miss the event this year due to her continuing commitments with USA Volleyball at the World University Games (WUG) in Catania, Sicily ... Lee, the U.S. team captain, had a team-best 18 kills to lead the U.S. to a five-game win over Canada in Wednesday's semifinal action ... that win sets up a gold-medal match on Friday against Russia, which handed the U.S. (4-1) its only loss of the weeklong tournament, during a tightly-contested pool play match (15-11, 15-12, 15-12) ... Lee has totaled 51 kills in five WUG matches, second on the team to Demetria Sance's 57 (Sance is a junior at Texas, which will play host to the Irish on Oct. 21) ... Lee also has led the U.S. in Sicily with 11 service aces while ranking third in digs (27) ... Sance and Lee both have 78 kills over the course of the three-match Canada Cup and the five WUG matches.
Probable Starting Lineups
NOTRE DAME Position Name Ht. Cl. Hometown High School/Club Setter Denise Boylan 6-1 Fr. Lisle, IL Benet Academy/Sports Performance Outside Hitter Angie Harris 6-0 Sr. Fort Wayne, IN Bishop Luers/Asics-Munciana Outside Hitter Mandi Powell 5-11 So. Monrovia, IN Monrovia/Circle City Middle Blocker Mary Leffers 6-4 So. Tampa, FL Berkeley Prep/Tampa Juniors Middle Blocker Lindsay Treadwell 5-11 Jr. Austin, TX Austin/Austin Juniors Opposite Emily Schiebout 6-1 So. Blaine, MN Concordia/Northern Lights LOUISVILLE Position Name Ht. Cl. Hometown Previous School(s) Setter Randa Shields 5-10 Sr. Mishawaka, IN Mishawaka HS or Anne Kordes 5-9 Jr. Louisville, KY Assumption HS/Univ. of Cincinnati Outside Hitter Sonia Gubaidulina 6-4 So. Moscow, Russia Barry College Outside Hitter Marina Sinichenko 6-2 So. Moscow, Russia Institute of Metal and Alloys or Kelly McClain 5-11 Fr. Kankakee, IL Bishop McNamara HS Middle Blocker Sherry Newton 6-2 So. Louisville, KY Butler HS Middle Blocker Kim Carpenter 6-1 So. Louisville, KY Sacred Heart HS Opposite Annie Filley 5-10 Sr. Louisville, KY Assumption HS ORAL ROBERTS Position Name Ht. Cl. Hometown Setter Amanda Cody 5-9 Fr. Woodland, WA Setter/Opposite Deborah dos Santos 5-9 Jr. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Outside Hitter Erica Favero 6-1 Sr. Sao Caetando de Sol, Brazil Outside Hitter Meredith Mangum 6-2 Fr. Newbury Park, CA Outside Hitter Sandra Paula Theis 5-10 Sr. Cacador, Brazil Middle Blocker Juliana Moser 6-2 So. Sao Paulo, Brazil WISCONSIN Position Name Ht. Cl. Hometown High School/Club Setter Colleen Neels 5-9 Jr. Waukesha, WI Catholic Memorial Outside Hitter Kate Fitzgerald 6-0 So. Milwaukee, WI Thomas More Outside Hitter Amy Lee 6-0 Sr. Milwaukee, WI Heritage Christian Outside Hitter Marisa Mackey 5-11 Jr. Muncie, IN Burris/Asics-Munciana Middle Blocker Heather Dodaro 6-0 Sr. Oak Lawn, IL Oak Lawn/Sports Performance Middle Blocker Kelly Kennedy 6-4 So. Barrington Hills, IL Barrington HS/Sports Performance
A Preseason Visit with Notre Dame Head Coach Debbie Brown
On the preseason
"I feel that we had a good preseason. I don't think it was great but I think we accomplished a lot. We were just a little bit up and down in terms of our skill level, but our work ethic was very good. The players are in excellent shape and we didn't suffer any significant injuries.
"Probably the most positive aspect of the preseason is the play of Angie Harris. She is as strong and as physical as she ever has been and is showing great leadership. Having Angie healthy and playing at the top of her game will be critical to our success."
"We tried to do as many team drills as possible this week to try to get the starters and primary subs comfortable playing with each other. When we scrimmaged to close out the preseason, one of the things that we did very well was siding out. We ran our offense relatively well. Any time you can go through a game and not have any hitting errors (the preseason starting unit had 13 kills, no errors on 20 attempts in the first game of the intrasquad scrimmage), it's going to be tough for the opponent to beat you. I was very pleased with the choices they made and they did a great job of playing smart. We started off very strong, with good emotion, and then had a bit of a letdown. I also was really pleased with our block. It's a very big block, particularly on the right side having Denise Boylan and Emily Schiebout out there. That will be a challenge for opponents to deal with and we could score a lot of points from that rightside block."
On the Shamrock Invitational
"I expect it to be a very competitive tournament and based on the talent that each team has coming back."
On the rightside hitters
"Emily Schiebout has done a great job and she had been dominant in her hitting and blocking. Mandi Powell has played very well all-around--she is a very steady passer and good defensive player who also is hitting very well."
"We have three people that we are looking at on the right side. Emily, Christi Girton and Mandi all have done a good job there in the preseason. With Jaimie not here this weekend, Christi would be the first player off the bench for either Emily or Mandi. I'm not sure what we will do when Jaimie Lee gets back. We do have a great option with both Mandi and Christi because, if they aren't starting, they can serve as primary subs on either the left or right side. Christi is a very intimidating blocker and she could be a real good blocking presence at any position on the front line."
On the setters
"Denise Boylan has done a real good job. We had pretty high expectations coming in and I think she has done what we thought she would. She has done a very good job setting. At the beginning of preseason, her location was a little bit off but she has become more comfortable with the speed and height of the sets and getting used to our hitters. Out hitting percentage in the first game of our intrasquad scrimmage was .650 (13 kills, no errors on 20 attempts) and a lot can be attributed to Denise's play, some great passing and a good distribution of the sets."
"Carey May has been able to do everything in practice. The problem is that she just doesn't have a full range of motion and she is still hesitant on defense. She has set very well and has done a good job."
On the middle blockers
"Mary and Lindsay are doing their jobs. It's a little bit different for Lindsay this year because she will be in the passing rotation a little bit more this season and she is doing a real good job with that. We obviously are expecting both Mary and Lindsay to elevate their games this season. If you look at our offense, it can be very hard to stop when things are evenly distributed and many players are clicking. I just think the team will be very fun to watch offensively because there can be so many weapons."
On Jaimie Lee's U.S. volleyball experience
"The past few months have been a very positive experience for Jaimie. It has been very good for her, as the captain of the team, to develop her leadership skills at the World University Games. It has given her a tremendous amount of confidence to have gone in and do as well as she has throughout the summer."
"I think she really excited about our season. As much fun a she is having, I know she is torn about not being here for our opener. She really misses bonding with the team and working out plays but she realizes that it's a great opportunity for her to be with the University Games team. It could very well be that, when she comes back, the first few practices will seem slow to her. But I think it will be a real positive and smooth adjustment."
"It's a situation where Jaimie has gained great experience at a very high level for four months. The benefit which that alone brings is more valuable than her being here for our first tournament--it's just too great of an opportunity to pass up. It's easier for me because I know that when I played in college I had the goal of going on and playing with the national team and in the Olympics. And there are certain things that you need to do to allow you to achieve those goals and one of those things is to take advantage of these opportunities. I don't ever want to hold anyone back from being able to do those things."