Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2016

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 90 of 99 PRESEASON 2016 91 ND SPORTS a 2‑0 loss to No. 18 Connecticut. This year, they will look to capture the program's fourth national title (1995, 2004 and 2010), ninth trip to the NCAA final and 13th berth in the NCAA College Cup. Romagnolo said her No. 13 Irish are focused on defying expectations. "In the ACC, you see all the qual‑ ity teams that are in the top 25 — seven teams in the top 25 — and I love the ACC for that reason," she said. "There's really no easy game. You've got to take everyone seriously. … They picked us to finish sixth, so that's some great motivation from our end to finish much higher than sixth." Notre Dame does not open con‑ ference play until Sept. 18, when it travels to Syracuse. In the meantime, the Irish will play a non‑conference match at Michigan Aug. 25, and then will host Western Michigan Aug. 28, Illinois State Sept. 2 and Missouri Sept. 4. CROSS COUNTRY LOOKS TO BUILD ON STRONG 2015 SEASON The 2015 campaign was an impres‑ sive one for the Fighting Irish cross country programs. The women's team finished eighth at the NCAA Championships, while senior Molly Seidel captured her sec‑ ond individual national champion‑ ship and rookie Anna Rohrer stepped up as her heir apparent. Rohrer — who hails from Misha‑ waka, Ind., and came to Notre Dame after being named the National Ga‑ torade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year — finished second at the ACC Championships and NCAA Great Lakes Regional Champion‑ ships (both behind Seidel). She also finished sixth at the NCAA Cham‑ pionships and was named an All‑ American. Along with Rohrer, the Irish return three more top‑200 NCAA finishers with Rachel DaDamio (96th), Annie Heffernan (138th) and Ashlyn Rambo (160th). The 96th‑place finish came for DaDamio in her first‑ever national meet as she finished with a six‑ki‑ lometer time of 20 minutes and 49 seconds. As for the men's team, Notre Dame had only one finisher at the NCAA Championships, senior Michael Clev‑ enger. He placed 38th with an eight‑ kilometer time of 30 minutes and 27 seconds, earning second‑team All‑ America honors. The top returners for Notre Dame will be senior Chris Marco, who fin‑ ished 37th out of 134 participants at last year 's ACC Championships, and junior Kevin Pulliam who fin‑ ished 41st. In the 2015 Great Lakes Regional, Pulliam finished 28th out of 202, while Marco finished 48th and fellow senior Jacob Dumford placed in 39th. Both the men's and women's teams will run in five events in 2016, start‑ ing with the Crusader Open Sept. 4 in Valparaiso, Ind. The Irish will also host two events. The first will be the National Catholic Sept. 16 and the second will be the Notre Dame/Joe Piane Invitational Sept. 30. The ACC Championships will be Oct. 28 in Cary, N.C., followed by the Great Lakes Regional Nov. 11 in Madison, Wis. The NCAA Champi‑ onships will take place on Nov. 19 in Terre Haute, Ind. VOLLEYBALL LOOKING TO REBOUND Last season was a tough one for Notre Dame volleyball. Under first‑ year head coach Jim McLaughlin, the Irish managed just seven wins and only two conference victories to fin‑ ish the year 7‑25 overall and 2‑18 in ACC play. It was, however, an improvement from 2014, when the Irish were 6‑23 in the final year of Debbie Brown's head coaching tenure. Brown was the head coach for 24 seasons from 1991‑2014 and left with a 519‑257 record and a .678 winning percentage. A key to turning things around in 2016 will the play of sophomore Ry‑ ann DeJarld, who led the 2015 team in digs (489) and digs per set (4.04), and tied for the team lead in service aces (39). She served as the team's libero — a designated player that specializes in defense and must wear a distinguish‑ ing jersey — in all 32 matches during her freshman year. Two more vital returnees will be second‑team All‑ACC junior Sam Fry and sophomore middle blocker Meg Morningstar, who earned ACC All‑ Freshman honors last year. Named preseason All‑ACC before last sea‑ son began, Fry played in all 121 sets and led the team with 353 kills, 2.92 kills per set, 126 total blocks and 441 points. Morningstar played in 31 of 32 matches with 23 starts, and finished with 116 kills (1.18 per set), 90 blocks and 163.5 points. This season, the Irish will face 11 2015 NCAA Tournament qualifiers and play 16 home matches — with 10 coming against ACC foes — with 16 road contests during a year that will see the Irish compete in 12 dif‑ ferent states. The 2016 campaign will also include the return of two home tournaments for Notre Dame. On Aug. 26‑27, Notre Dame will host the Golden Dome Invitational to open the season and will welcome Seton Hall, Cleveland State and Western Michigan. The Irish will then host the Sham‑ rock Invitational Sept. 2‑3, and will have matchups with Coastal Carolina, Howard and in‑state foe Purdue. ✦ Sophomore Anna Rohrer earned All-America hon- ors by placing sixth at the NCAA Championships last year. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME MEDIA RELATIONS

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