Nov. 16, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Fifth-seeded Notre Dame will take on fourth-seeded Syracuse at 10:00 a.m. (CT) on Friday (Nov. 18) in the opening round of the 2011 BIG EAST Conference Volleyball Championship. Hosted by Marquette, the three-day event will be held on campus at the Al McGuire Center.
Notre Dame last visited the Al McGuire Center just last week while falling to Marquette, 3-0, during the final weekend of the regular season.
The Irish (15-11 overall, 8-6 BIG EAST) were also defeated earlier this season by Syracuse (19-11, 8-6) but have never dropped two straight against the Orange in the history of the 20-match series.
Syracuse returns to the BIG EAST Championship after missing out on the showdown in 2010, while Notre Dame - which has nine BIG EAST tournament titles under its belt - reached the conference tournament for the 17th time in as many seasons since joining the league.
Though all 16 members of the BIG EAST Conference field women's volleyball teams, Providence ceased its league participation in the sport after the 2002 season. The other 15 schools take part in round-robin play during the regular season, and the top eight teams then participate in the BIG EAST Championship, a single-elimination tournament with the winner receiving the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. This championship format is a departure from the traditional four-team event that had been in place when the Irish first joined the league (with the exception of 1999, when the league experimented with an expanded three-day, six-team event).
Notre Dame has experienced unprecedented success in the 15 years since joining the league in 1995. The Irish have compiled a 180-31 (.853) regular-season mark, highlighted by nine tournament titles and winning streaks of 45 and 35 consecutive matches.
Notre Dame once earned 58-straight victories at home in BIG EAST regular-season play. Irish volleyball squads carried a home conference winning streak of 74 straight matches from 1991 to 2004, which includes wins over both Midwestern Conference and BIG EAST opponents. Notre Dame has streaked through the BIG EAST regular season slate seven times without a loss (most recently in 2009 after going 14-0) while becoming just the second team to go undefeated since the league adopted the 14-match format in 2005.
The Irish have won nine BIG EAST Tournament championships, posting a 29-7 (.806) mark in the event while reaching the final match in its first 12 tournaments. After taking a one-year hiatus from the finals, the Irish returned in 2008 before falling to Louisville.
Notre Dame has also dominated the league's postseason awards, winning both player-of-the-year and coach-of-the-year awards on six occasions. On nine occasions, Irish players have been named the league tournament's most outstanding player. Notre Dame student-athletes have garnered 56 all-conference accolades - including 30 first-team honors.
Prior to joining the BIG EAST, Notre Dame was a member of the North Star Conference from 1983-87 and the Midwestern Collegiate Conference from 1990-94. The Irish won regular-season and tournament titles in the NSC in 1986 and 1987, and then captured both the regular-season and tournament championships in the MCC from 1991-1994.
In 25 years of conference participation, Notre Dame has won 17 regular-season crowns and 15 league tournaments while compiling a 237-44 (.843) mark in regular-season conference matches.
BIG EAST Conference Championship
Quarterfinals - Friday, Nov. 18
Semifinals - Saturday, Nov. 19
Championship - Sunday, Nov. 20
*all times ET
Following the Irish ...
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Syracuse Orange (19-11 overall 8-6 BIG EAST)
Syracuse downed Notre Dame, 3-1, in the two program's first-ever meeting in 1981, but it has been all Irish since that showdown except for a 2011 regular-season loss at Syracuse ... Notre Dame leads 56-14 in sets won, including 52-9 in the BIG EAST era ... head coach Debbie Brown collected her 400th win since taking over the Irish program with a 3-1 victory over Syracuse in 2007 ... the win was No. 517 overall for Brown ... the first five-set affair between the schools came in the 1990 Rhode Island Invitational in Providence, with Notre Dame coming out on top in the last frame, 16-14, for its first-ever win over Syracuse ... the 2008 matchup also lasted five sets as Notre Dame posted a .377 hitting percentage to set a school record for a five-set match ... the previous Notre Dame record for hitting percentage in a five-set match was .346, set versus San Francisco in 1991 ... Syracuse recorded eight blocks and held Notre Dame to a season-low 15 points in the opening frame of the 2009 match, but the Irish rallied back to sweep the remaining sets while snapping the Orange's 10-match home winning streak ... the win made Notre Dame 7-0 in four-set matches on the season ... the Irish notched five consecutive 3-0 wins over the Orange from 2002-06 ... Angie Harris had nine aces in the first BIG EAST contest between the teams in 1995, a record that still stands despite accomplishing the feat in just three sets ... the Irish made just one service error in the 1996 matchup ... the Irish won by 37 points in 2001 at the Joyce Center, the third-largest margin of victory for Notre Dame under the 30-point format ... former Notre Dame libero Meg Henican recorded the school's second highest dig total (26) in a three-set match against Syracuse in 2005.
Bump, Set, Spike ...
The Irish have claimed nine BIG EAST Championship titles with a pair of second-place finishes ... Pittsburgh's 10 titles (1982, 1984, 1986, 1988-94, 2003) are the most of any league program ... however, the Panthers reached their total through 29 seasons as a league member and have only won one title since Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST in 1995 ... Adrianna Stasiuk was the tournament's MVP in 2005, joining eight other Irish players to earn the honor: Lauren Brewster (2004), Emily Loomis (2002), Malinda Goralski (2001), Denise Boylan (2000), Marcie Bomhack (1998), Jaimie Lee (1997), Lindsay Treadwell (1996), and Angie Harris (1995) ... the Irish have also won 11 regular-season league crowns, the last coming in 2009.
When combining Notre Dame's all-time BIG EAST regular season (180-31) and tournament (29-7) records, the Irish are 209-38 (.846) in league matches since 1995.
Keep an eye out this weekend for senior Kristen Dealy, who has been named to the BIG EAST Championship all-tournament in each of the last three seasons ... in the 2010 league tournament, Dealy had 15 kills and 15 digs against Villanova with nine kills and 15 digs versus Cincinnati ... one year earlier, Dealy posted 23 kills in a loss to Louisville after dropping seven kills on 17 errorless attempts during a 3-0 rout of Seton Hall with 11 digs and a pair of aces ... as a freshman, Dealy hit .483 with 16 kills against Connecticut, notched a double-double (14 kills, 17 digs) against St. John's and swatted 11 kills with 11 digs in the championship match with Louisville.
Notre Dame defeated Rutgers (Nov. 6) to claim a 3-0 Senior Day victory ... senior Kristen Dealy finished her final home contest with six kills, including a converted strike on match point ... the win came one day after freshman Jeni Houser had a match-high 17 kills and sophomore Andrea McHugh let loose with a double-double (10 kills, 12 digs) to give the Irish a 3-1 win over Seton Hall.
Less than 24 hours after an exhausting five-set defeat at Connecticut (Oct. 29), Notre Dame recovered to down host St. John's, 3-1, ... with its fourth straight win in the 19-match series with the Red Storm, Notre Dame concluded its recent road escapades that spanned 11,309 miles in the air and on the road since Oct. 8 ... Notre Dame failed to convert on three straight attempts at match point while eventually falling to Connecticut, 3-2, to open the weekend ... behind 14-11 in the final set, Connecticut outscored the Irish over the stretch by a 7-2 margin ... senior Kristen Dealy knocked out a pair of double-doubles on the weekend to bring her season total to six.
There was not rest for the weary when Notre Dame hit the friendly skies while traveling to No. 8 Hawaii (Oct. 17-18) only to return home for a league bout with USF (Oct. 23) ... the Irish dropped both of their matches to the Rainbow Wahine while sweeping the Bulls for their fourth straight league win after beginning the conference slate with a 1-3 mark ... Notre Dame hung on to deal the Rainbow Wahine their first home defeat in a set since Sept. 17, snapping their streak of 17-straight victorious frames on the island during a 3-1 loss ... senior Kristen Dealy had a match-high 20 scoops during the program's "Dig Pink" match against USF and notched a double-double (13 kills, 16 digs) during the second of two games at Hawaii ... freshman Jeni Houser Notre Dame on the week with 3.10 kills/set while hitting .308 in three matches ... Houser pounded Hawaii for 13 kills (.323) in the second match of a twindip on the island and recorded 12 kills (.321) against USF. Freshman Toni Alugbue showed no mercy on DePaul (Oct. 14) with 16 kills during a 3-1 win for Notre Dame ... Alugbue hit .448 and blocked four shots to earn a spot on the BIG EAST's Honor Roll for the second straight week.
Notre Dame went 2-0 during its first BIG EAST roadswing with wins at Pittsburgh and West Virginia (Oct. 8-9) ... paving the way for the Irish over host West Virginia was senior Kristen Dealy and her 16 kills ... in fact, Dealy hit an eye-popping .533 on the day without an error in 30 attempts ... Dealy also added six digs and a pair of blocks for Notre Dame, which snapped a three-match skid with the two wins ... after falling behind, 3-0, in the third set against the Mountaineers, Notre Dame proceeded to go on an 18-1 jaunt to answer WVU's opening spurt ... freshman Toni Alugbue, who was named to the BIG EAST Honor Roll, had nine kills in each of the two outings while hitting at a .614 rate against the Panthers.
The Irish dropped each of their two matches while playing host to Cincinnati and Louisville (Oct. 1-2) ... with its league record at 1-3, Notre Dame fell under the .500 mark for the first time since joining the BIG EAST in 1995 (save for a loss to start BIG EAST play at Pittsburgh in 2007) ... three of the four sets in the match against Cincinnati were decided by three or fewer points, with Notre Dame having set-point in the first two frames before Cincinnati went on a pair of 3-0 runs to win each stanza ... senior Kristen Dealy had 11 kills (.257) and 14 digs with sophomore Sammie Brown adding 35 assists and 14 digs against the Bearcats ... no one covered as much ground as senior Frenchy Silva in that contest, who was good for a game-high 24 scoops for her second straight 20+ dig performance ... sophomore Andrea McHugh led the Irish with 17 kills and freshman Jeni Houser posted 13 more (.333) with four blocks.
Notre Dame went 1-1 with a loss to Villanova after sweeping Georgetown to open BIG EAST play (Sept. 24-25) ... junior Hilary Eppink posted a team-high 10 kills on a .556 clip against the Hoyas ... Eppink did not commit an error on 18 swings ... Notre Dame stumbled out of the gate and never fully recovered against Villanova ... hitting .094 with 11 service errors, Notre Dame fell to the Wildcats, 3-1, during the nationally televised contest on ESPNU with 1,337 fans on hand to watch at Purcell Pavilion ... the two teams combined for 23 service errors and Notre Dame failed to record an ace for the first time since facing Northern Iowa on Nov. 7, 2010 ... senior Kristen Dealy (25) and Frenchy Silva (22) each eclipsed the 20-dig plateau.
One day after redeeming a 2010 loss to Western Michigan, Notre Dame swept host Wisconsin to claim the team title at the InnTowner Invitational ... senior Kristen Dealy earned MVP honors with senior Frenchy Silva and junior Hilary Eppink earning all-tournament nods ... the win on Wisconsin's home floor was the first ever for the Irish, also giving Notre Dame its first back-to-back wins over the Badgers in the history of the 10-match series.
Senior Kristen Dealy earned MVP honors at the InnTowner Invite after a strong showing across the board with 3.00 kills/set, 4.29 digs/set and 3.57 points/set.
Notre Dame's 1,000-1,000 club inducted a new member in senior Kristen Dealy during a Sept. 16 match against Western Michigan ... now with more than 1,000 career kills and 1,000 digs, Dealy is the eighth Irish player ever to join the club and the first since Adrianna Stasiuk did so in 2007.
Notre Dame is 15-1 all-time in BIG EAST regular-season openers, with the lone loss coming at Pittsburgh to begin the 2007 league slate ... all said and done, the Irish are 172-25 (.873) in regular-season play since joining the BIG EAST, including a home record of 95-8 (.922).
Freshman Jeni Houser was named MVP of the Golden Dome Invitational after leading all players at the four-team event in hitting (.348), kills/set (3.82) and points/set (4.36) ... Houser matched a career-high with 19 kills against Portland (Sept. 10) as Notre Dame went 2-1 on the weekend.
Freshman Toni Alugbue and sophomore Andrea McHugh were named to the Golden Dome Invitational all-tournament team ... Alugbue averaged 1.36 blocks/set on the weekend and McHugh shelved a pair of double-doubles and dropped four aces on Portland (Sept. 10).
A highly efficient and balanced offensive output from Notre Dame helped produce a 3-0 win over visiting Lipscomb (Sept. 9) as the Irish hit .549 as a squad, committing just two errors on 91 swings with 52 kills ... with the effort from above the net, Notre Dame set a program record for hitting pct. in a three-set match ... the previous best (.539) was set against Marquette in 1986 ... it was also the first time the Irish hit over .500 in a contest since a 3-0 win versus DePaul in 2005 ... even more, Notre Dame's side-out pct. on the evening was .840, which included a 12-for-12 effort in the first set.
Sophomore Sammie Brown became the 11th player in Notre Dame history to record at least 1,000 assists in a career, doing so with a 32-assist effort against Portland (Sept. 10).
Notre Dame dropped each of its two matches at the Stanford Invitational (Sept. 2-3), falling to both the host Cardinal and St. Mary's (Calif.).
Freshman Jeni Houser pounded No. 6 Stanford for a team- and career-high 19 kills ... the slugger averaged 3.57 kills/set in the two matches on the West Coast to earn a spot on the Stanford Invitational All-Tournament team.
Notre Dame opened the season with three wins at the Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 26-28) for its best start to a campaign since 2006 ... Notre Dame dropped the second set in each of its 3-1 wins over Eastern Michigan, Idaho and Butler ... the victory over Butler was the program's 300th home win ... Notre Dame is 302-95 (.760) all-time on its home floor.
Senior Frenchy Silva, junior Hilary Eppink and sophomore Andrea McHugh were each named to the Shamrock Invitational All-Tournament team ... in fact, McHugh was named the tournament's MVP one day prior to shelving Player of the Week honors from the BIG EAST Conference ... McHugh led the Irish with 58 kills in three tournament matches and posted a career-best 25 kills to go along with 13 digs against Idaho ... McHugh averaged 4.83 kills and 3.92 digs/set while recording double-digit kills in all three weekend matches.
A 22-dig performance against Butler (Aug. 28) put senior Frenchy Silva over the 1,000-mark for her career ... what's more, Silva's 3.36 digs/set average is fourth all-time, and senior Kristen Dealy's 3.06 digs/set clip ranks fifth ... that makes the duo the only classmates ever to rank among the top 10 in digs/set.
With an Aug. 26 win over Eastern Michigan to begin the 2011 campaign, Notre Dame is 25-7 (20-1 under head coach Debbie Brown) in home openers.
Notre Dame was picked to finish second in league play according to the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches Poll ... the Irish received one first-place vote.