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    Notre Dame Volleyball Downs Louisville in Season Opener

    NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Notre Dame senior outside hitter Angie Harris (Fort Wayne, Ind.) had 23 kills in her first match since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in November of 1996 and newcomer Denise Boylan (Lisle, Ill.) rose to the occasion as the first Notre Dame freshman since 1988 to start the season opener as the team's primary setter, as #17 Notre Dame downed Louisville 15-3, 15-3, 10-15, 15-10 in opening-day action Friday of the Shamrock Invitational, at the Joyce Center Arena.

    Notre Dame (1-0) outhit Louisville, .299-.181, while receiving balanced offensive contributions beyond Harris' match-high 23 kills. Sophomore middle Mary Leffers (Tampa, Fla.) had 13 kills on .476 hitting and sophomore hitter Mandi Powell (Monrovia, Ind.) added nine kills. Two other Irish players, sophomore opposite Emily Schiebout (Blaine, Minn.) and junior middle Lindsay Treadwell (Austin, Texas) chipped in eight kills, with Schiebout posting no errors on 15 swings (.533).

    The match was played without a marquee player from each team, as Notre Dame senior hitter Jaimie Lee was thousands of miles away playing in the gold-medal match at the World University Games while Louisville sophomore hitter Marina Sinichenko was serving the first match of an NCAA suspension that will make her ineligible until the midpoint of the season, according to University of Louisville officials. Louisville junior setter Anne Kordes, a transfer from the University of Cincinnati, also was ineligible for the opener but has been cleared to play in Louisville's matches Saturday against Wisconsin and Oral Roberts.

    The Irish victory avenged a tough five-game loss to Louisville at the Joyce Center during the 1996 Big Four Classic, when the Cardinals rallied from a two-game deficit. Louisville had its eyes set on another five-game match Friday, after winning a marathon third game and stretching to a 10-7 lead in game four. But Boylan served six straight points, with Harris picking up four kills and assisting on a block during that stretch, as the Irish pushed to a 13-10 lead en route to the four-game win.

    "Up until the midway point of the fourth game, I hadn't seen that drive or intensity that you need to put a match away," said seventh-year Irish head coach Debbie Brown. "But then we started to get some points and gained some momentum. From that standpoint, it was good to see us get pressured and respond in such a favorable way."

    Sophomore hitter Sonia Gubaidulina paced Louisville with 18 kills, on .255 hitting, while freshman hitter Kelly McClain added 12 kills. The Cardinals used seven blocks and a .271-.167 hitting advantage to claim the lengthy third game but the visitors managed just one other block during the other three games combined.

    The 6-1 Boylan--who earned 1996-97 Gatorade national high school player of the year honors--had 51 assists in her Irish debut, to go along with three aces (tying Gubaidulina for match-high), nine digs, four kills and three block assists.

    Schiebout played a vital role in the victory while making her first career start at the rightside hitter spot manned by Jenny Birkner during all 140 matches from 1993-96. Schiebout came through with some tough serves, including a pair of aces, while assisting on a team-high four blocks.

    Senior middle Molly McCarthy (Indianapolis, Ind.) provided a spark off the bench for the Irish, registering 10 digs and an ace, while freshmen Adrienne Shimmel (Mission Viejo, Calif.) and Christi Girton (Muncie, Ind.) joined Boylan by making their first appearance for the Notre Dame volleyball program.

    Notre Dame opened the season on fire, hitting .400 in game one and .441 in game two while limiting Louisville to three points in each of those games (the Cardinals hit just .081 and .095 in the first two games).

    Treadwell's 18 digs are a career-best for a four-game match (just one shy of her all-time career best) while Harris' .388 hitting percentage is the second-best of her career for a four-game match (behind, ironically, a .484 effort against Louisville as a freshman in 1994).

    Lee will return to South Bend on Saturday with a silver medal in tow, after captaining the U.S. during the weeklong University Games (WUG) in Catania, Sicily. The U.S. lost to Russia in Friday's gold-medal match (8-15, 7-15, 10-15), with Lee being moved to setter for the final game and a half in an effort to jumpstart the U.S. effort. The silver-medal showing represents one of the best finishes by the U.S. at the WUG during the past decade.

    The Shamrock Invitational continues Saturday morning with the Louisville-Wisconsin match (10:30 a.m.), followed by Oral Roberts-Notre Dame at 1:00 p.m. Oral Roberts then will face Louisville at 5:00, with the tournament set to conclude with a 7:30 Wisconsin-Notre Dame matchup.

    NO. 18 WISCONSIN TOPS ORAL ROBERTS IN FOUR GAMES: Freshman middle blocker Jenny Maastrict stepped into the starting lineup for injured senior Heather Dodaro and responded with 10 kills, a .391 hitting percentage and a match-high seven blocks as #18 Wisconsin defeated Oral Roberts 15-6, 3-15, 15-6, 15-6 in first-day action of the Shamrock Invitational at the Joyce Center. ... Wisconsin (1-0) outblocked Oral Roberts (0-1) by a 13-2 margin, with senior hitter Amy Lee and sophomore middle Kelly Kennedy assisting on five blocks each for the Badgers. Lee also led Wisconsin with 12 kills on .308 hitting while the Badgers outhit the Golden Eagles .291-.132. ... ORU tied the match thanks to a .714 hitting percentage in the second game (10 kills, no errors on 14 attempts) but Wisconsin responded in the final two games. The Badgers hit .619 in game three (14 K-1E-21A) before closing out the match with .414 hitting in game four. ... Maastrict, who was inserted into the starting lineup due to Dodaro's sprained ankle, had two solo blocks while assisting on five others. The Badgers totaled eight aces, led by Lee's three. ... Sandra Paula Theis paced the Eagles with 11 kills.

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