Aug. 15, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Notre Dame volleyball team was picked to finish second in 2011 BIG EAST Conference play, according to the league's preseason poll released Monday. The Irish received one first-place vote while defending tournament champion Louisville came in as the 2011 preseason favorite, garnering 11 first-place nods. Cincinnati, tabbed to finish third, picked up a trio of first-place votes.
In 2010, the Irish posted an 18-13 overall record while going 10-4 in BIG EAST play to secure the program's 26th overall - and 20th consecutive - winning season. Notre Dame's 7-2 record through the first nine matches was the program's best start to a season since 2005.
During last season's campaign, Notre Dame sported the nation's sixth-best active regular-season conference winning streak, which was snapped at 19 matches after a loss at Louisville (Oct. 9). The Irish had won their last BIG EAST contest of the 2008 season, went 14-0 in 2009, and swept their first four league matches in 2010.
McHugh was named the AVCA's Northeast Region Freshman of Year on the heels of being honored as the BIG EAST Conference Freshman of the Year. McHugh is the latest of three Notre Dame players to earn the region's top honor for a freshman after leading the Irish with 386 kills (3.48/set) and 32 aces (0.29/set). McHugh, who was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week five times this season to set a Notre Dame record, was also a first team all-BIG EAST selection (and the only rookie on the first team).
Dealy, a senior outside hitter, has three times been named to the league's all-tournament team. This is the first preseason all-BIG EAST honor for the Irish co-captain.
The volleyball season will start on Aug. 26 with every team playing in tournaments prior to conference play, as Notre Dame faces Eastern Michigan at the Shamrock Invitational. BIG EAST play begins with a 14-game opening weekend on Sept. 23-25.
The BIG EAST's 15 volleyball teams play every league school once for a 14-game schedule. The top eight finishers in the BIG EAST standings, based on winning percentage, advance to the BIG EAST Volleyball Championship hosted by Marquette University at the Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee, Wis.
First-round action of the BIG EAST Volleyball Championship will begin on Nov. 18. The event spans three days and is single elimination. ESPNU will televise the championship game on Nov. 20. The tournament champion will receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA's 31st Annual Division I Women's Volleyball Championship.
BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year *Lola Arslanbekova, Louisville, Jr., OH