Sept. 6, 2007
Fresh off its first win of the season last Saturday over Florida International in Columbia, Mo., the Notre Dame volleyball team is set to host the Shamrock Invitational Sept. 7-9 at the Joyce Center. Alabama, College of Charleston, and 13th-ranked Ohio will join the Irish in the round-robin competition.
This marks the 13th time since 1993 that Notre Dame has played host to the event. The Irish finished 2-1 in the tournament last season while the lone loss came at the hands of No. 13 Missouri in five games.
Alabama enters play on a four-match losing skid after picking up wins over Denver and Seton Hall to open the season. Crystal Hudson, an AVCA All-American honorable mention in 2006, currently ranks in the top 10 of the Alabama career charts in kills, attack attempts, hitting percentage, block solos and block assists. The Irish are 16-25 all-time against teams from the Southeastern Conference, and head coach Debbie Brown has a 16-15 all-time mark against the SEC following a loss to Florida earlier this season.
Former Pitt assistant and current College of Charleston head coach Jason Kepner earned his first career win in the Cougar's second match of the season, a 3-0 sweep of Illinois-Chicago. Kepner inherited a Cougar team that has won six-straight Southern Conference regular season titles and was tabbed to win the league crown in 2007. College of Charleston has made four trips to the NCAA Tournament since 2000.
Last week the four-time defending Mid-American Conference champion Bobcats notched two of the best wins program history, defeating No. 9 Minnesota and No. 12 San Diego on back-to-back days, the highest ranked opponents Ohio has ever beaten. The run against ranked opponents came to an end in the final match of the Diet Coke Classic hosted by Minnesota when No. 2 Stanford handed the Bobcats their first loss of the season.
Live stats will be available for each match of the tournament on UND.com.
Friday, Sept. 7
Saturday, Sept. 8
Sunday, Sept. 9
Home team listed first
College of Charleston Cougars
Alabama Crimson Tide
They're Grrreat! Both Megan Fesl and Serinity Phillips earned spots on the all-tournament team at Missouri's Tiger Invitational after posting career performances ... Fesl turned in a personal-best 20 kills against Florida International and a season-high 16 digs against Missouri ... with 19.0 points against the Golden Panthers, Phillips set a career-high in that stat column ... she also had a season-high 15 kills and seven blocks in Notre Dame's win over FIU.
Gimme Five...or Four ... It's nice when two or three players connect on 10+ kills in a match ... but it's even better when five can pull it off ... that's just what then-20th Notre Dame did when they faced Missouri last season, who was ranked 13th coming into the Sept. 2 match ... Christina Kaelin (24), Mallorie Croal (14), Justine Stremick (14) Adrianna Stasiuk (13), and Megan Fesl (13) all had double-digit kill performances for Notre Dame ... in the 2007 matchup, four Irish players hit the double-digit mark in that category: Serinity Phillips (11), Megan Fesl (14), Adrianna Stasiuk (10), and Justine Stremick (13).
Haven't We Met? When the Irish play College of Charleston, sophomore Tara Enzweiler and the Cougars' Ginny Phillips will be on opposite sides of the net for the first time since their prep days ... the pair shared the court for Cardinal Gibbons HS in Raleigh, N.C., and also played on the same Triangle club team ... Enzweiler led Cardinal Gibbons to state titles in 2003 and 2005 ... Phillips was a part of the program's championship team in 2005 and was able to add another to the resume in 2006 ... Enzweiler speaks highly of the future nemesis and her blocking ability ... the two players spent this past summer training and working out together in the Raleigh area.
Block Party ... Notre Dame totaled a season-high 18.0 blocks against Florida International while holding the Golden Panthers to an attack percentage of .177 ... seven Irish players recorded blocks, with Justine Stremick leading the way with eight ... Serinity Phillips and Kellie Sciacca each had seven, Tara Enzweiler notched four, and setter Ashley Tarutis got her hand in front of an attack ... Phillips, Stremick, Sciacca, and Enzweiler each recorded blocks to tally four of Notre Dame's final eight points in game two.
Tis Better To Give ... Ashley Tarutis' 47 assists against Missouri pushed her past Kristen Kinder (2000-03) for third-place on the school's all-time assist list ... the senior leads the Irish this season with 142 helpers (9.47/game) ... she now has 3725 assists in her career after notching 44 against Florida International ... in front of her is Denise Boylan and her total of 4687 ... Tarutis is averaging 9.47 assists/game and has 142 of ND's 202 dimes this season.
Are You Down for a Road Trip? Missouri's Tiger Invitational was originally slated to be a four-team tournament ... Florida A&M opted to withdraw from the event, leaving Notre Dame without a Sunday match due to the shifted schedule ... instead, the Irish left Columbia for St. Louis several hours before their flight left town to take in some sights ... the squad made it to the top of the Gateway Arch and watched the St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Cincinnati Reds in Busch Stadium ... with the scoreboard chock full of zeroes, the Cards' Rich Ankiel led off the sixth inning with a solo homer and soon stepped out of the dugout for a curtain call ... but Irish manager Hy Pham may have drawn an even louder ovation from the patrons of section 367 for an earlier performance ... Pham took the spotlight by downing two hotdogs and a chicken sandwich - which was followed with a large soda - before the midway point of the first inning ... Pham claims he has never used performance-enhancing drugs ... Notre Dame also visited the University of Missouri Children's Hospital on Saturday morning before playing Florida International later that evening ... while there, they passed out Notre Dame volleyball collectables in addition to quite a few hugs, smiles, and laughs with patients.
Digging Upwards ... With 12 digs against Florida, Adrianna Stasiuk took sole possession of third place on the school's career list of matches with 10+ digs ... now with 71, she passed Jenny Birkner's spot on the chart and her total of 69 ... third-place Christy Peters had 79 matches with 10+ digs from 1991-94 ... Stasiuk was able to snatch 21 digs against Missouri (Sept. 2), which moved her ahead of Jamie Lee and into sixth-place for career digs.
Volleyball's Cal Ripken ... Ashley Tarutis saw action in each of Notre Dame's eight games over the course of the Tiger Invitational, pushing her total of consecutive games played to a school-record 365 ... libero Meg Henican played in 363 straight games between Nov. 17, 2002 - Dec. 9, 2005 ... Tarutis is the only player in the history of the program to play in each game of every match (365 of 365) ... next on the list is Lauren Brewster (.969 - 444/458) ... Adriana Stasiuk is currently seventh (.942 - 344 of 365) ... Tarutus is also one of four players to play in every career match.
Check Next Door ... There may have been a lot of head scratching going on when fans made their way to the Joyce Center's main arena to watch Notre Dame battle No. 7 Florida on Aug. 26 ... the arena was being used for a freshmen orientation session, and as a result, the Joyce Center Fieldhouse hosted its first-ever volleyball match ... the televised competition was played in front of 721 fans.
Four Hands Are Better Than Two ... Ashley Tarutis and Jamel Nicholas passed out 35 and 20 assists, respectively, in an Irish loss against No. 7 Florida ... the occasion marked the second time in three matches that Notre Dame had two players record 20+ assists ... the same duo accomplished the feat in the 2006 finale against No. 10 Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament.
Must Have Been Something She Ate ... When Notre Dame cracked open the lid on the 2007 season, Serinity Phillips had three kills on 14 attempts with two errors for a .071 average against Minnesota ... whatever she did on her day off between Friday evening and Sunday's match with Florida must have worked ... Phillips responded with a career-best .583 hitting percentage with 14 kills on 24 swats without an error ... Christina Kaelin (12-2-18, .556) was the last Irish player to hit .500+ when she did so in a 3-2 win at Cincinnati in 2006.
How've You Been Doing? Notre Dame's non-conference opponents on the 2007 schedule went a combined 23-5 (.821) in the season's opening week ... at the time, seven of those squads were ranked in the CSTV/AVCA's top-25 ... not one of the 12 teams ended the week below .500
This Too Shall Pass ... Not since 1990 has Notre Dame dropped its first two matches to start a season, albeit the pair of losses to kick off 2007 came against top-10 squads ... that made five-straight losses for the Irish dating back to a 3-2 setback against Louisville on Nov. 19, 2006, which was the longest streak since the program dropped seven straight matches - twice - in 1990 ... a five-game win over Florida International on Sept. 1 christened the win column for the Irish in 2007.
Another BIG (EAST) One ... Senior Adrianna Stasiuk, a 2006 all-BIG EAST first team selection, was one of five unanimous selections on the league's 2007 preseason squad, joining Kimberley Todd (Marquette), Diana Andreyko (Pittsburgh), and preseason co-players of the year Hui Ping Huang (St. John's) and Tatyana Kolesnikova (Louisville) ... she took home second-team hardware as a sophomore, the same year she won the BIG EAST Championship's Most Outstanding Player award.
Starting Fresh ... Two freshmen cracked the starting lineup in their first collegiate match against Minnesota in ND's opener ... Kellie Sciacca had six kills and got her hand on a pair of blocks while Angela Puente had eight digs from the libero position ... the pair narrowly made it back from a freshmen orientation session to catch the start of the duel with Florida two days later.
Get `em While They're Hot ... Opening a season with highly ranked opponents is nothing new to the Irish ... Purdue was the first ranked team Notre Dame ever faced to open a season ... the Boilermakers were 10th in 1984 when they downed ND ... the Irish played a top-10 foe two weeks into the 1995 season in the Notre Dame Invitational ... after beating Northwestern, #9 USC won the second match, 3-0 ... #6 Pacific was ND's third opponent in 1999 and downed the Irish, 3-0, in the Shamrock Invitational ... Notre Dame had won its first two matches of the season over unranked opponents ... an unranked Irish team traveled to the Four Points Sheraton Classic in Malibu, Calif., to start the 2003 season ... they beat #10 Arizona, 3-1, before losing to host Pepperdine, who was ranked 5th-best in the nation ... in the following week's poll, Notre Dame jumped to the 21st spot ... after opening with a home win against Loyola (Ill.) in 2004, ND suffered a pair of losses to #4 Nebraska at the Joyce Center.
Born to Win ... Debbie Brown notched her 500th career win as a head coach during the 2006 campaign, and her 509 win total ranks 27th in that category among active coaches entering the 2007 season ... in fact, only two active coaches have more wins in as many seasons ... she is eight wins shy of No. 400 as Notre Dame's head skipper.
Mal-mentum ... After putting together a band of seven consecutive double-doubles to end the season, which was the second longest streak in the record books, junior Mallorie Croal picked up a spot on the BIG EAST's preseason squad ... and that's after she earned first-team honors in 2006.
Why Not Both? Adrianna Stasiuk reached double figures in digs 24 times in 2006, which placed her seventh on that list for a single season ... her streak of 10 consecutive matches with 10+ digs (Sept 17-Oct. 20, 2006) is tied for the fourth-longest streak in a single season ... she has three 10+ digs efforts in 2007.
Closing In ... Sophomore Christina Kaelin had five 20+-kill matches last season to finish tied for sixth in a single season ... Christy Peters holds the all-time single season mark of nine (1994) ... after one season, Kaelin is one spot shy Notre Dame's all-time top-10 list for career 20+-kill matches.
Buddy System ... Notre Dame switched up its two setters (Ashley Tarutis and Jamel Nicholas) throughout much of the 2006 season, where each led the team in assists in at least 11 matches ... due in part to the two-setter approach, neither ranked among the top-10 statistical leaders in the BIG EAST, but Notre Dame, as a team, ranked second in assists (14.78/game) among league members ... the Irish took that same approach into the 2007 schedule, with both Tarutis and Nicholas reaching double-digits in the dish category in the season's first two matches.
Rejection Is a Good Thing ... Junior Justine Stremick ranked sixth in the conference with her average of 1.37 blocks per game, and her 27 solo blocks were among the conference leaders in the BIG EAST last season ... she almost had as may blocks (156) that season than her next two closest teammates (Mallorie Croal and Kim Kristoff) combined, who totaled 164 together.
Spoiling the Party ... The Irish had never dropped a home opener under head coach Debbie Brown since she took over the program in 1991 until this season's loss to Minnesota ... the defeat also marked the first time an Irish team had not started a season - at home or away - with a win since they fell 3-1 to Montana in the 1990 opener.
Re-Joyce Center ... Notre Dame is now 21-7 in home openers and had won its last 17 before falling to Minnesota ... previously, the last time the Irish dropped an opener in the Joyce Center was in 1989 to Western Michigan, 3-2, in the Notre Dame Invitational ... before this season, no ND team has started play on its home court with back-to-back matches against top-10 teams.
Down But Not Out ... Christina Kaelin (shoulder) and Mallorie Croal (ankle) both missed Notre Dame's season opener against Minnesota and still have yet to see the court ... Croal is expected to return to action within the next few weeks while Kaelin could possibly see action later in the year.
And You Thought You Had It Bad ... Not only did Notre Dame face two top-10 squads in the season's first weekend, but seven of its 13 non-conference opponents were ranked among the nation's top 25 in the CSTV/AVCA Coaches Preseason Poll ... additionally, three more non-conference foes along with Louisville and St. John's received votes in the standings ... the RichKern.com Poll had eight future Irish opponents in its preseason top-30, with five more appearing within the following 10 spots.
Guess Who's Back ... Lauren Brewster, a two-time All-American and one of the program's most decorated players, is the latest addition to the Notre Dame coaching staff ... Brewster will be responsible for working with the middle blockers, coordinating travel, and assisting with virtually all aspects within the Irish program ... indeed, Brewster knows a thing or two about blocking after having been the NCAA's leader in that category in 2003 while ranking among the nation's top 25 leaders for four straight seasons ... she was one of only five Division I players to be an AVCA All-American and CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2005, the same year she was on ESPN The Magazine's Academic All-America second-team.
Same Places, New Faces ... The six student-athletes who comprised the 2006 freshmen class - Tara Enzweiler, Megan Fesl, Christina Kaelin, Kim Kristoff, Jamel Nicholas and Serinity Phillips - earned high praise before even stepping on campus, as two publications ranked the group among the five best in the country ... Volleyball Magazine had Notre Dame third on its list of top recruiting classes, while PrepVolleyball.com placed the Irish fifth on a similar list ... Kellie Sciacca, who was ranked 22nd on PrepVolleyball.com's Senior Aces list in 2006, joins classmates Megan Dunne, Angela Puente, and Stephanie Slatt as Notre Dame's four-deep freshmen class this season.
A Change Will Do You Good ... The Fighting Irish used 11 different lineups in 2006, each of which utilized at least two of this year's sophomores and sometimes as many as four members of the class started at the same time ... through four matches this season, the Irish have gone with the two lineups while starting a pair of freshmen in each battle.
Push Restart ... In 2006, the Irish were without five starters from a squad that posted a 30-4 mark one season prior ... but six players that saw significant action last year are back for the most recent Irish campaign.