Oct. 16, 1997
Oden Sisters to Reunite at Notre Dame-North Carolina Volleyball Match
Two of top players in recent USA Volleyball history to face off as assistant coaches
The Oct. 17 women's volleyball match between Notre Dame and North Carolina will serve as a reunion for two members of the "first family" of U.S. women's volleyball, as sisters Elaina and Kim Oden will square off as first-year assistant coaches at the respective schools.
The Friday-night match will begin at approximately 8:00 p.m. in the Joyce Center Arena, following the pep rally for the Notre Dame-Southern California football game. Notre Dame is 12-5 and riding a six-match winning streak while North Carolina is 12-8, with three of its last four losses coming in five games.
Friday's match program will include a cover photo of Kim and Elaina Oden receiving their bronze medals at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. The Oden sisters will be available after the match to autograph the match programs.
Kim served as captain of the 1992 Olympic team and also captained the U.S. at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea. Elaina teamed with her younger sister, Bev, on the 1996 Olympic team in Atlanta. Bev currently is working in New York as a researcher and writer for Sports Illustrated.
Each of the Oden sisters was named to the NCAA 1980s All-Decade Team, with Kim earning player of the decade honors. Elaina was tabbed in 1990 as a member of Volleyball Monthly's All-Time Fab 50 elite team.
Kim and Elaina Oden ironically faced off against one another in the 1985 NCAA championship match, less than 100 miles away from Notre Dame on the campus of Western Michigan University (located in Kalamazoo, Mich.). Elaina and her University of the Pacific teammates beat Kim and #1 Stanford in that match, 3-1, to avenge a 3-1 home loss to the Cardinal earlier in the 1985 season.
The Odens, who are natives of Irvine, Calif., also faced one another in 1992 during an Italian pro league match, as Kim's Bari squad defeated Elaina and the Fidenza squad.
"This match will be kind of different for us because it's not like the pressure you feel as a player, or even a had coach," said Elaina Oden. "It won't be anything personal whichever one of us losses ... but I still want us to win, no question. It would have been great if Bev could have come out--she really wanted to be here. We plan on calling her after the match."
Kim Oden accepted her current position at North Carolina in June without even knowing that a matchup with the Irish was on the schedule. "This will be special for us, because it has never happened before," said Kim Oden. "It's always difficult to be on opposing sides. I want her team to do well but of course I want us to win. I think Notre Dame is very fortunate to have Elaina here. It's tough to have these kind of matches but they only happen every so often. I'm really excited to see her and spend some time visiting."
Kim was NCAA player of the year at Stanford in 1984 and '85 and helped the Cardinal compile a 100-30 record from 1982-85, with Stanford claiming three NCAA runner-up finishes in that span ('82, '84 and '85) while advancing to the NCAA semifinals in 1983. She was a four-time All-American middle blocker at Stanford and remains the Cardinal's career leader in blocks, with 665. The eldest of the three Oden sisters also has played professional beach volleyball since 1993 and currently serves as one of 26 elected members of the USA Volleyball Board of Directors.
Elaina Oden led UOP to the NCAA title in both 1985 and '86 and was a member of the U.S. women's volleyball national team program from 1986-97. She earned first team All-America honors as a freshman and sophomore, after leading UOP to a two-year record of 75-6. Volleyball Monthly recognized Oden as its 1986 national player of the year. In the summer of '87, the 6-1 middle blocker suffered a major knee injury but was able to return for a fifth year of eligibility, earning second team All-America and Big West Conference player of the year honors in 1989.
Elaina Oden's jersey is one of three to be retired by UOP volleyball. She maintains career records at UOP for kills (1,485) and hitting percentage (.341) while ranking second in kills per match (12.1) and third in blocks (534) and digs (1,209). As a freshmen, she set still-standing UOP records for kills (547) and hitting (.380) while her '86 hitting mark of .357 remains second in the UOP record book. She graduated in 1990, with a degree in sociology.
Oden led Irvine High School to the '81 and '84 CIF section titles. She was the '84 state player of the year and '85 Orange County athlete of the year.
Bev Oden earned NCAA player of the year honors at Stanford in 1990 and led them to the 1992 NCAA title.