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Irish hope to zoom past Big East’s UConn, BC

Anne Loughery | Friday, November 5, 2004

After spending much of the season on the road, Notre Dame is due for a tune-up.Coach Debbie Brown says this weekend offers the perfect opportunity for the Irish to gauge their progress and polish their performance.”Every match is a learning experience,” Brown said. “We just want to play the best volleyball we can at the end of the season.”The Irish (13-6, 6-0) hope to zoom past Connecticut and Boston College this weekend as they return for a pair of home matches. Captain Meg Henican emphasized that neither team looks to be a pushover; in order to win, the Irish must take the driver’s seat early, extending runs and regulating the tempo of the match.”We need to play at a high level throughout the match,” Henican said. “It’s going to take a good team effort in all aspects of the game for us to win. We’ve put it all together a couple of times, but now we just need to sustain that high level from start to finish.”Notre Dame will receive its first challenge from conference-rival Connecticut (16-7, 5-1), who is expected to thrive on the momentum from last weekend’s win against Central Connecticut. The Huskies swept Central Connecticut in three games 30-20, 30-23, 30-19, with tri-captain Megan Crawley notching a match-high 13 kills, five blocks and .423 hitting percentage.Henican anticipates a tough match against the Huskies, who have recorded just one loss in the Big East.”They’re going to make us work for our win,” Henican said.On Sunday, the Irish hope to breeze past the Eagles (17-10, 3-3), who return to the courts looking for redemption after a heartbreaking loss to West Virginia last Sunday 30-26, 30-27, 14-30, 28-30, 15-13. Boston College’s Katie Andersen led the Eagle’s effort, logging her second double-double of the weekend with a match-high 29 kills and 13 digs.Last weekend, the Irish put the breaks on Georgetown and Villanova, sweeping both teams in three games. Versus Georgetown on Saturday, Notre Dame hit .339 with five players contributing eight or more kills on .295 hitting percentages, securing a win 30-24, 30-23, 30-22.Villanova proved to be a more formidable opponent, but the dogged Irish defense held their ground. Notre Dame averaged 4.50 blocks and 20 digs per game, limiting Villanova to a .007 attack percentage. The Irish walked away with a 30-27, 30-24, 30-22 victory Sunday afternoon. Henican chipped in 26 digs – the second-highest total ever for a Notre Dame player in a three-game match. Her performance last weekend earned her the praise of Big East officials, who named Henican the Big East player of the week. Henican said that while she’s flattered to receive recognition, it is the team that deserves the credit.”It’s a huge compliment to the team,” Henican said. “No one could excel without the whole team’s effort. It’s nice to get recognized individually, but when it comes down to it, it’s about the team and the team’s success.”Fueled by this team-oriented attitude, the Irish look to garner their share of success this weekend taking on Connecticut on Friday at 7 p.m. and Boston College on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Joyce Center.