Aug 26, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Just four days away from an intriguing non-conference matchup with Atlantic Coast Conference foe North Carolina, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team was picked fourth in the ACC preseason coaches poll, while junior standouts Toni Alugbue and Jeni Houser earned a spot on the preseason all-conference team in voting conducted by the league office Monday.
The Irish, who finished 20-10 and advanced to the first round of the NCAA Championship in their last season in the BIG EAST, received 153 votes and placed behind unanimous league pick Florida State, North Carolina and Miami. The other two programs that are making the move to the ACC - Syracuse and Pittsburgh, were picked 12th and 13th, respectively.
"Heading into the new conference there are a lot of unknowns but we are looking forward to the challenge," said head coach Debbie Brown. "For us the predicted order of finish doesn't matter. We know where we want to be at the end of the season and we are working towards that in practice every day. We are ready for the new adventure and we are looking forward to facing new opponents every weekend. The competition will be very good and will push us weekly."
Alugbue and Houser are both expected to have big junior campaigns after being named honorable mention All-Americans in 2012. Alugbue led the Irish last season with 390 kills and 452.5 points, with Houser close behind with 379 kills and 432.0 points. Alugbue also contributed 272 digs and 68 blocks, while Houser hit .324 and totaled 89 blocks.
"It's a great honor for both Toni and Jeni to be recognized by the league's coaches even though we haven't even played a league match yet," said Brown. They are both strong players and we are looking forward to seeing what they can do in a new league this year."
Fifteen teams make up the ACC with each squad playing a 20-match conference schedule. Notre Dame plays each team once and Miami, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Boston College and Syracuse twice.
Notre Dame kicks off the 2013 season at 8 p.m. Friday in Murfreesboro, Tenn., at the Blue Raider Bash when it meets the Tar Heels in a match that was finalized before the Irish knew they would be joining the ACC in 2013. Saturday sees Notre Dame play the host Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (12 p.m.) and the University of San Francisco Dons (6 p.m.) to close out the opening weekend.
2013 ACC Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll
No. Team Points 2012 Record (ACC)
1 Florida State (14) 196 28-4 (18-2)
2 North Carolina 178 26-6 (16-4)
3 Miami 169 25-6 (17-3)
4 Notre Dame 153 20-10
5 NC State 133 22-10 (12-8)
6 Duke 126 15-17 (6-14)
7 Virginia Tech 122 16-14 (9-11)
8 Clemson 109 21-10 (12-8)
9 Georgia Tech 82 19-12 (10-10)
10 Maryland 81 17-15 (8-12)
11 Virginia 64 9-22 (3-17)
12 Syracuse 51 12-18
13 Pitt 49 17-14
14 Boston College 33 10-22 (4-16)
15 Wake Forest 29 11-21 (5-15)
*First place votes in parentheses
2013 Preseason All-ACC Team
Katty Workman/Sophomore/Outside Hitter/Boston College
Mo Simmons/ Senior/Outside Hitter/Clemson
Emily Sklar/ Sophomore/Outside Hitter/Duke
Ali McCurdy/ Senior Libero/Defensive Specialist/Duke
Olivera Medic/ Senior/Outside Hitter/Florida State
Ashley Neff/ Senior/Middle Blocker/Florida State
Chanell Clark-Bibbs/Sophomore/Middle Blocker/Georgia Tech
Ashleigh Crutcher/Junior/Outside Hitter/Maryland
Adreene Elliot/Junior/Middle Blocker/Maryland
Alex Johnson/Senior/Right Side/Miami
Alexis Mourning/Junior/Middle Blocker/Miami
Ryan Shaffer/Senior/Defensive Specialist/Miami
Emani Sims/Junior/Middle Blocker/Miami
Chaniel Nelson/Junior/Right Side/North Carolina
Paige Neuenfeldt/Sophomore/Middle Blocker/North Carolina
Jeni Houser/Junior/Middle Blocker/Right Side/Notre Dame
Toni Alugbue/Junior/Outside/Hitter/Notre Dame
Victoria Hamsher/Senior/Middle Blocker/Virginia Tech