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Irish picked to win 7th Big East Championship in 8 years

Heather VanHoegarden | Friday, September 26, 2003

There’s no doubt about it – the Irish are the favorites in the Big East once again.

After winning its seventh Big East Championship title in eight years in 2002, Notre Dame has been picked to win the Big East, edging out Miami by a margin of 141 votes to 136.

The 17th-ranked Irish, who finished 11-2 in conference play last year, kick off this year’s Big East season tonight at home against Villanova (3-9). They finished conference play with a record of 7-6 last year and were predicted to finish ninth this season.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame also had two players named to the preseason all-Big East team. Sophomore middle hitter Lauren Kelbley and junior outside hitter Emily Loomis represented the Irish. Kelbley was named Big East Rookie of the Year last year, while Loomis won the Big East Championship’s Most Outstanding Player award.

The Irish high-powered attack looks to dominate tonight, as they knocked off Villanova last year 3-1.

The Irish have had nine days off, as they last played Sept. 17, when they knocked off Purdue at the Joyce Center. It has been a much-needed rest for the Irish, as they play the last games of a seven-game homestand.

Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Brewster is coming off a career-high game, as she recorded 13 blocks and 13 kills against Purdue.

Senior hitter Katie Neff has been a force on defense for the Irish as well, as her 6-foot-4 frame provides a huge block on opposing teams.

Sunday will see the Irish take on Georgetown, who were predicted to finish fifth in conference play this year. The Hoyas (3-8) lost to the Irish last year in a 3-0 sweep.

Tonight’s game is set to start at 7 p.m., and Sunday’s clash will begin at 2 p.m.