Volleyball: A Big East First

Louisville and Notre Dame both ranked among the nations top ten programs

Notre Dame continued to make an impact on the national landscape of NCAA Division I women's volleyball when it upset then-No. 8 Southern California and No. 6 Florida at the UTSA Dome Rally last weekend. The Irish (6-0) ascended 11 places to No. 8 in the latest AVCA/CSTV national poll released Monday by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

Louisville moved up to No. 9 on the strength of its 3-0 week to mark the first time in BIG EAST history two volleyball schools have been ranked in the top 10 at the same time. Last week was the first time in conference history two schools had been ranked in the top 25 simultaneously.

Louisville's No. 9 mark is the highest ranking in the school's history. Prior to this week, the Cardinals surpassed their best mark twice; they were ranked No. 14 in the preseason poll and No. 11 last week. Before this season, 15th was the Cards' highest ranking. That came in 2004 and 1996.

Notre Dame's 11-place improvement matched the largest single-week rise ever for any team in the poll.

The Fighting Irish were the only team at the UTSA Dome Rally Championship to finish the tournament with a 3-0 record. The event featured four top-20 teams and seven returning AVCA All-Americans. The eight teams that participated entered the tournament with a combined record of 32-5 (.865) this season.

This marks the ninth week in Notre Dame volleyball history that the school has cracked the national top 10 and the third different season it has reached the milestone. Its highest ranking ever came on Sept. 19, 1995 when ND was ranked 7th.

Louisville continued to show its dominance by sweeping each of its three opponents last week: intra-state rival Kentucky, Illinois and No. 22 Long Beach State. The Cardinals (6-0) have swept each of their opponents this season and had a streak of 18 consecutive matches without losing a game a year ago. They have also not lost in their last 20 matches at Cardinal Arena, dating back to the opening contest of the 2004 campaign. U of L's 6-0 record is its best start since 1990.

Notre Dame's senior middle blocker Lauren Brewster was named BIG EAST Player of the Week for the second consecutive time after being named the UTSA Dome Rally Championship Most Valuable Player. She posted 52 kills (.243 pct.) and 18 blocks on the weekend. Her most significant performance came against Florida when she had 20 kills and seven blocks.

Louisville and Notre Dame were picked to finish No. 1 and 2 in the BIG EAST in a preseason poll of the league's head coaches.

The two national powers will square-off for their only regular season match Oct. 29 at the Joyce Center in Notre Dame, Ind. at 3:00 p.m. ET.

Nebraska, Washington, Stanford, Penn State, Minnesota, Hawai'i and Florida are ranked above Notre Dame and Louisville in this week's poll.

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