The Week in Notre Dame Athletics: Soccer and Volleyball Kickoff the Fall

Notre Dame Athletics. So much to know. So many to cheer for.

When we last covered the week in ND athletics in June, Irish athletes were finishing up outdoor track and field, baseball players were heading to the big leagues, women's soccer had just locked up the top recruiting class in the country for 2013, and two women's tennis stars were named All-Americans.

Now we're sailing into the fall season, when a number of sports begin their seasons, joining soccer and volleyball, which are already well-underway. We'll have updates on Irish golf, rowing, and tennis within the next few weeks, followed by hockey and swimming later in the season.

For now, the news revolves around volleyball and soccer (with a bit about recent basketball happenings for good measure), with brief recaps of where we left the other fall-season sports to follow.

Volleyball

Last season, the Irish finished fourth in the Big East with an 8-6 record. The volleyball team began a new season of play this past weekend with 3 matches in Lincoln, NB, where they played and lost to top-ranked UCLA (1st in the country) and Nebraska (4th in the country), but beat St. Louis in straight sets. Freshman libero Taylor Morey was recognized as Big East Freshman of the Week. Opposite side hitter Jeni Houser was recognized in the Big East weekly honor roll for her play, which included 37 kills. The team's home opener is Friday night v. UAB at home to begin the yearly Shamrock Invitational, and it will be streamed on UND.com at 7:30 EST. The Irish then play Buffalo on Saturday and Eastern Kentucky on Sunday.

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Soccer

In 2010, the women's team won the national title; they ended the 2011 season with a 10-8-3 record. The newly young women's soccer team (dubbed the "baby Irish" by coach Waldrum) got off to a strong start this last week with a 2-0 win over Tulsa last Friday and a second shut-out win (5-0) over East Carolina in Sunday's home opener. The Irish have 6'0" freshman Elyse Hight starting at goalie after a five-way competition for the spot. Hight, who lettered in 4 sports in high school, was named Big East Goalkeeper of the Week for her performance. The women's team faces top 25-ranked Santa Clara and North Carolina this weekend.

The men's soccer team similarly got off to a strong start, with central defender Andrew O'Malley being named Big East Defensive Player of the Week after last Saturday's season-opening shut-out win over 21st-ranked Duke. The lone goal for the Irish came in the 76th minute from Ryan Finley - a transfer to Notre Dame who had played on Duke's team for 2 seasons, making his game-winning goal especially fitting. The Irish are currently ranked 16th nationally and will play San Diego State in Bloomington, IN on Friday evening.

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An off-season note on basketball: Senior guard Skylar Diggins participated in the inaugural FIBA 3x3 World Championships in Athens last weekend and played a crucial part in the team's netting a 9-0 record in the tournament. Diggins earned her fifth USA Basketball gold. The previous week, freshman guard Michaela Mabrey competed in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Puerto Rico, where the US squad also took gold.

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Recaps of Last Season in Notre Dame Athletics

Hockey: Notre Dame's hockey team began the season ranked no. 1, but logged a lackluster 19-18-3, 12-13-3-0 CCHA record in the brand new Compton Family Ice Arena.

Tennis: In the spring, the men's team finished their regular season 18-7 then lost to South Florida in the semi-finals of the Big East championship to finish 21-9, 3-1 and take 3rd.

The women's team finished the spring 21-8 and won their 5th consecutive Big East title. They fell to Northwestern in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Rowing: Last season, the Irish took their 9th consecutive Big East championship and competed in the NCAA championships.

Cross Country: Last season, the men earned a 24th-place finish at the NCAA championships and the women earned a 22nd-place finish. The season opens for the Irish on August 31st in Valparaiso at the Crusader Invitational.

Swimming: The Irish men earned their fifth Big East conference title last season and sent two swimmers to the NCAA championships, where Notre Dame finished 28th. Notre Dame diver Nick Nemetz took 12th in the one-meter event in the NCAA championships.

The Irish women placed 22nd in the NCAA championships and 2nd in the Big East championships in both swimming and diving.

Golf: Last season, the men's golf team received strong individual accolades and advanced to the NCAA championships - it was the first Irish squad to do so.

The women's team finished second in the Big East (49th in the nation), losing out to the top-ranked team by only a single stroke. On to 2012.

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We'll bring you updates next week and throughout the year on the Notre Dame Olympic sports and help you to root for the Irish beyond those long-awaited and well-loved fall Saturdays. For now, go Irish. Beat Navy.

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