Sept. 20, 2002
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Notre Dame (8-3) vs. Michigan (6-3), Saturday, Sept. 21, 7 p.m.
Joyce Center, Notre Dame, Ind.
Irish look to get back on track against third Big Ten foe of the season on Saturday:
The University of Notre Dame volleyball team (8-3) will return to action on Saturday, Sept. 21, against Michigan (6-3) at 7 p.m. in the Joyce Center. The Irish suffered their second road match loss of the season to Purdue (9-3) on Wednesday, Sept. 18, and it also was their first set back in five matches.
Notre Dame leads the nation in block average:
Entering the week of competition on Sept. 15, Notre Dame was ranked first in the nation for team blocking with a 3.89 average per game. That average has dropped to 3.67 after the loss to Purdue on Wednesday, but the 3.67 mark would still be good enough to lead the nation (according to the Sept. 15 rankings).
Freshman Lauren Brewster, who leads the team in blocks with 50 this season, was ranked ninth in the nation on Sept. 15, with a 1.66 average.
Notre Dame vs. Michigan series notes:
The Irish and Wolverines will be meeting for the 10th time ... Notre Dame gets its chance to avenge a three-game loss to Michigan in Cliff Keen Arena from the 2000 season, after cancelling its matchup with the Wolverines last season due to the events on Sept. 11 ... the loss to Michigan in 2000 was one of just two losses on the road for Notre Dame that season ... Notre Dame is 3-1 against Michigan in the Joyce Center ... Michigan defeated Toledo 3-0 on Sept. 19, to push their record to 6-3 on the season.
Follow all Irish home matches via live statistics on the official athletic web site:
The University of Notre Dame official web site, www.und.com, will provide live statistics for all Irish home volleyball matches this season.
The link, http://und.ocsn.com/livestats/w-volley, will be available as soon as the matches start in the Joyce Center. Be advised, however, that the statistics displayed are not official until the game is over. The official boxscore from the match will be posted with the match recap on the www.und.com volleyball home page.
The volleyball match game tracker will provide play-by-play, team statistical breakdowns and a running score board - which is updated just seconds after each play concludes in real time.
Only home matches involving the Fighting Irish will be available on www.und.com.
Katie Neff named BIG EAST Player of the Week:
It was a weekend of firsts for junior opposite Katie Neff. Against Northwestern on Friday, Sept. 13, she enjoyed the first plus-.500 hitting performance of her career with 11 kills on 19 swings and just one error (.520). She continued her hot hitting against Loyola College the next day, posting six kills on seven swings (.825) in just two games of action. Then, to cap off her stellar weekend, she earned the tournament MVP award with a career-best 21 kills in Notre Dame's five-game come-from-behind victory over #10 Pepperdine to win the 2002 Golden Dome Invitational. The 21-kill effort was Neff's first career match with 20-plus kills.
The weekend ended with Neff being named the BIG EAST Player of the Week by the conference office on Monday, Sept. 16. Neff led all Notre Dame hitters with a .482 hitting percentage last week, totaling 45 kills (3.75 per game) and 13 blocks (1.08 per game). It is the first BIG EAST Conference weekly award of the St. Louis, Mo., native's career.
Neff, who was hailed by head coach Debbie Brown early in the 2002 season as one of the most improved players on the Irish roster, has moved to full-time duty on the right side for the first time this season.
"Katie was outstanding all weekend," Brown says.
"She had the opportunity to step up and she seized it. She did an outstanding job of keeping the other team off balance with her hitting and blocking."
Neff ended up with 11 kills and three blocks against Northwestern and six kills and two blocks against Loyola College. Her seven kills against Valparaiso on Sept. 10, also factored in her player of the week award. In all, Neff took 83 swings in Notre Dame's four matches last week and committed just five attack errors.
Irish sets a new standard for consecutive home victories in memorable fashion:
Notre Dame's victory over #10 Pepperdine extended the Irish home court winning streak to 28 matches. The 28-match streak is the longest in school history, eclipsing the previous mark of 27 matches from Sept. 9, 1993 through Sept. 2, 1995.
The Irish have not lost in the Joyce Center since a three-game setback to #7 Colorado State on Sept. 23, 2000.
During the Irish winning streak at home, they have dropped just six games while winning 23 matches 3-0. Notre Dame also has won four tournament titles during the streak, including the 2000 BIG EAST Championship, the 2001 and 2002 Shamrock Invitational titles and the 2002 Golden Dome Invitational.
Irish set school records during classic victory over #10 Pepperdine:
The victory over the visiting Waves on Saturday, Sept. 14, was more than just Notre Dame's first victory over a top-10 opponent since 1995. The win stretched the Irish home court winning streak to a record 28 matches and provided Notre Dame its second home tournament title of the season (combined with the Shamrock Invitational).
The match against the Waves also set two team records. The 30-32, 30-24, 29-31, 30-25 and 15-10 game scores matched the team record for points in a match (134) from Notre Dame's five-game victory over Illinois State in 2001. The Notre Dame - Pepperdine match also is the longest in the Joyce Center under the new rally scoring rules, as the match ended two hours, 28 minutes after it began (surpassing the Illinois State match by six minutes).
Another team record was set earlier in the tournament, when Notre Dame defeated Loyola College 30-16, 30-16 and 30-14 to win by 44 points, the largest winning margin for the Irish under the new rally scoring method.
Notre Dame utilizing its front row strength to dominate at the net:
The 2001 Irish team posted a 3.42 blocks-per-game average, second to just the '85 (3.51) and '88 (3.57) teams.
Entering the match with Michigan, the Irish are averaging 3.67 blocks per game this season.
Front row specialists Malinda Goralski, Kristy Kreher and Marcie Bomhack graduated last season, but a talented freshman class, combined with some experienced front line players, have shown the ability to improve the Irish defense at the net. In the first 11 matches of the 2002 season, Notre Dame dominated at the net to collect 139 team blocks and have failed to post less than 10 team blocks in just one match this season (vs. Colorado).
Burrell makes first career start against Loyola College:
In an effort to rest starting setter Kristin Kinder for a match later in the day against #10 Pepperdine,
Irish head coach Debbie Brown inserted freshman Kelly Burrell into the starting six for the match on Sept. 14, against Loyola College.
Kristen Kinder would need the rest later in the day, as the Irish defeated Pepperdine in five games. Burrell, however, made the most of her first career start by leading Notre Dame to a .374 hitting mark against Loyola. Burrell ended up with 39 assists, which is a team-high for a three-game match this season, as Notre Dame swept the visiting Greyhounds in three games. Burrell added three kills, one ace, seven digs and four blocks to her statistical line and can take comfort knowing that the 30-16, 30-16, 30-14 victory over Loyola is currently the largest victory margin for Notre Dame under the new rally scoring method (44 points).
Golden Dome Invitational all-tournament team details:
Katie Neff was named the tournament MVP of the Golden Dome Invitational, but the Irish opposite was joined on the all-tournament team by three teammates.
Junior outside hitter Jessica Kinder earned all-tournament honors for the second time his season (also landing on the LMU Classic squad). Jessica Kinder began the tournament with eight kills and four digs against Northwestern, then stepped up to lead the team in kills against Loyola with 14 on .522 hitting. She also had 12 digs against the Greyhounds, giving a fourth double-double match of the season. Jessica Kinder increased that total to five in the tournament final against #10 Pepperdine, posting 13 kills and a team-high 22 digs.
Sophomore outside hitter Emily Loomis also was on the Golden Dome Invitational all-tournament team. Loomis' signature match of the weekend was her 22-kill, six-dig, six-block effort against Pepperdine in the championship match. She also had seven kills in two games against Loyola and added 12 kills and five blocks vs. Northwestern on Sept. 13.
After being named the tournament MVP at the Shamrock Invitational, setter Kristen Kinder made her second all-tournament team at the Golden Dome Invitational despite playing in just two matches. She was solid against Northwestern in the tournament opener for the Irish, posting six kills, 33 assists, an ace, nine digs and two blocks in Notre Dame's 3-0 victory. The Irish hit .252 as a team against the Wildcats. In the championship match against Pepperdine, Kinder led the team to victory with 67 assists, 10 digs, three blocks and four kills (with a .284 team hitting mark).
Lyndsey Hache and Brie Harris joined the four Notre Dame players on the all-tournament team from Pepperdine. Northwestern's Erika Lange also was named to the squad.
Libero addition raises dig average:
With the addition of the libero for back row substitutions, the Notre Dame dig average is at 15.36 per game for the 2002 season. Senior libero and tri-captain Janie Alderete leads the team with 119 digs, including 19 against Cincinnati during the Shamrock Invitational and 20 vs. #10 Pepperdine in the Golden Dome Invitational.
Highly-touted freshman class ready to contribute:
Ten returning veterans have combined with six members of the '02 freshman class to provide head coach Debbie Brown with one of her deepest teams since she took over the Irish program in 1991.
Lauren Brewster, Kelly Burrell, Carolyn Cooper, Meg Henican, Lauren Kelbley and Lindsay Peterson were named Volleyball Magazine's fifth-rated recruiting class and Student Sports Magazine's third-rated group.
"The Irish loaded up on tall, talented athletes," Volleyball Magazine writes.
"In addition to two Fab 50s (#26 Meg Henican and #36 Lauren Brewster), 6-3 middle Carolyn Cooper, 5-11 setter Kelly Burrell, and 6-1 middle Lauren Kelbley are headed for South Bend."
The 'Fab 50,' Volleyball Magazine's rating of the top 50 recruits in the nation, is one of the premier rankings of incoming freshmen. The list is ranked first through 50 in order of the impact they are expected to make in college volleyball during the next four years. Former Irish stand outs Marilyn Cragin, Jaimie Lee and Mary Leffers, along with current players Kelly Corbett, Kim Fletcher, Kristen Kinder and Emily Loomis have been listed among the 'Fab 50.' Henican (ranked 26th) and Brewster (ranked 36th) represent the list for this year's freshmen group.
Brown and her staff reached across the nation for their six incoming freshmen. Brewster is from Brentwood, Tenn., Burrell hails from Phoenix, Ariz., Cooper calls Houston, Texas, her hometown, Henican is from New Orleans, Kelbley is from Bascom, Ohio, and Peterson is from Mt. Carroll, Ill..
Try to hit through this front line:
Notre Dame's blocking prowess has been well documented this season, but the Irish have some rotations that defy opposing teams to get a shot through. At certain times during a match, Katie Neff (6-5), Lauren Brewster (6-3) and Lauren Kelbley (6-2) are patrolling the net for the Irish defense. Add in 6-1 all-BIG EAST high jumper Emily Loomis and the Irish defensive wall becomes even more impressive.
Neff (30 blocks), Brewster (48), Kelbley (25) and Loomis (41) play a large role in Notre Dame's 3.89 blocks-per-game average, which ranked fourth in the nation as of Sept. 8.
Debbie Brown coaching is in her 12th year as the mentor of the Irish volleyball program:
Debbie Brown has guided the program throughout the 90's and into the new century, developing the Irish into a volleyball power in the BIG EAST and one of the best programs in the nation. Brown is 284-96 (.746) and has earned numerous coach-of-the-year accolades throughout her 11 years with the Irish, including the 2000 and 2001 BIG EAST Coach of the Year awards.
Notre Dame picked by league coaches to win its third-straight and seventh-overall BIG EAST Championship:
Notre Dame has been picked to win its third-straight league title this year, as voted by the conference head coaches. The Irish received 10 of 13 first-place votes, finishing ahead of Pittsburgh and Rutgers.
Two Irish players landed on the preseason all-BIG EAST squad. Junior setter Kristen Kinder, the 2001 BIG EAST Setter of the Year, and junior middle blocker Kim Fletcher made Notre Dame the only conference team represented by two players on the preseason all-BIG EAST team.
Pittsburgh's Wendy Hatlestad was named the Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year.
The top four teams in the conference (which includes 13 teams with the addition of Miami) will qualify for the 2002 BIG EAST Championship in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Nov. 23-24.
Notre Dame has won the last two conference championships, including last season's showcase in Pittsburgh (defeating Georgetown in five games). The Irish have won their last 27 matches against BIG EAST Conference teams and have posted 34 straight wins in regular-season league action. Notre Dame also is 43-0 at home against BIG EAST Conference opponents.
The NCAA Women's Volleyball Rules Committee has introduced another rule change that will have a large effect on how the game is played. After the introduction rally scoring in 2001, the 2002 season marks the beginning of the libero era in women's collegiate volleyball.
A libero (designated back row player) will be allowed in the lineup for the 2002 season. A defensive specialist that does not count toward the team's substitutions, the libero can freely replace any player that has rotated to the back row. Unlike traditional substitutions that are administered by the referee, the libero can enter the match any time there is a dead ball.
Since the libero is a defensive player, a certain restrictions have been established on the libero's offensive capabilities. A libero only plays in the back row and cannot serve or attempt to block a shot. The libero cannot attack the ball above the net, nor can the libero set the ball with an overhead finger pass in the attack zone.
Once the libero comes out of the match, the player must wait at least one point before reentering.
Janie Alderete, Keara Coughlin and Christa Moen might all be seen wearing the libero jersey this season - a jersey that cannot match the color worn by the rest of the team.
Here is a quick look at Notre Dame's last 28 match victories at home:
Sept. 29, Villanova, W, 3-0
Oct. 1, Georgetown, W, 3-0
Oct. 20, Rutgers, W, 3-0
Oct. 22, Seton Hall, W, 3-0
Nov. 3, Boston College, W, 3-0
Nov. 4, North Carolina, W, 3-0
Nov. 7, Saint Louis, W, 3-0
Nov. 18, Connecticut, W, 3-0*
Nov. 19, Rutgers, W, 3-0*
Aug. 31, SW Texas St., W, 3-0
Sept. 1, Florida Atlantic, W, 3-0
Sept. 1, Idaho, W, 3-1
Sept. 18, Valparaiso, W, 3-0
Sept. 22, Syracuse, W, 3-0
Sept. 28, Virginia Tech, W, 3-0
Sept. 30, Georgetown, W, 3-1
Oct. 12, Villanova, W, 3-0
Oct. 14, Rutgers, W, 3-0
Nov. 9, St. John's, W, 3-0
Nov. 11, Seton Hall, W, 3-0
Nov. 14, Illinois State, W, 3-2
Aug. 30, UW-Milwaukee, W, 3-0
Aug. 31, Cincinnati, W, 3-0
Sept. 1, Cal Poly, W, 3-0
Sept. 13, Northwestern, W, 3-0
Sept. 14, Loyola College, W, 3-0
Sept. 14, Pepperdine, W, 3-2
* - 2000 BIG EAST Championship