Irish net spot in NCAA tourney opening round
By MATT OLIVA
The Notre Dame volleyball team travels back to California this weekend for the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
The Irish earned a berth in the Central Sub-regional and will face Ohio State at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion Saturday. It marks the eighth straight season that the Irish have qualified for the national tournament.
The Irish bring a 20-8 record into the tournament against the Buckeyes. The Irish faced the Buckeyes once before in NCAA action at the 1996 tournament, when Ohio State defeated Notre Dame in five games at the Joyce Center in the second round. In 1999, Ohio State is 16-11 overall and finished an even 10-10 record in the Big Ten Conference.
The Buckeyes are led by all-Big Ten honoree outside hitter Jen Flynn, averaging 3.29 kills per game and 2.42 digs per game. Big Ten honorable mention selection Rosie Snow is first on the team in kills per game with a 3.56 mark and in digs per game with a 2.69 average. Setter Katie Virtue was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
"I don't know a lot about Ohio State, but we'll probably learn as much as we can in the next couple days and just take it one game at a time," Brown said.
The Irish will look to Big East player of the Year Mary Leffers to lead them in the tournament. The middle blocker set Big East records for most blocks (67) and highest hitting percentage (.475) in conference matches and is currently ranked fifth nationally in blocks per game.
Leffers is joined by junior Denise Boylan on the all-Big East first team, while junior Christi Girton and sophomore Kristy Kreher were named to the all-conference second team. Boylan ranks fourth in the Big East in assists per game in conference matches and has led the Irish to a .280 hitting percentage and a phenomenal .359 hitting percentage in Big East matches.
GThe winner of the Notre Dame-Ohio State match will face the winner of the UCLA (25-3)-Eastern Washington (24-7) contest on Sunday at 5 p.m. Notre Dame faced Eastern Washington a year ago for the first time in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament at Stanford, defeating them in four games before falling to the Cardinal. Should Notre Dame and sixth-ranked UCLA face each other on Sunday, it would be the first meeting between the two schools.
All Sports Stories for Friday, December 3, 1999