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ND VOLLEYBALL: Irish lament road trip, ready to face DePaul

Tom Dorwart | Friday, October 14, 2005

With all the buzz surrounding Notre Dame’s highly-anticipated football game against unbeaten USC this Saturday, Irish volleyball coach Debbie Brown was completely honest – she’s disappointed for her players, disappointed because they will not get to experience the hype of such a huge football weekend.

“If I had my choice, I’d rather be here,” she said, referring to her desire to play at home rather than on the road this weekend. “I just think it’s a very exciting thing to be a part of, and I feel badly that we won’t be here. I think that games that have that much on the line – national exposure – to be on campus for a game like that, I was here in ’93 when Florida State was here, so it’s really fun to be a part of.

“So if I had my choice I’d rather be here to let the [volleyball] team experience that.”

But don’t get her wrong – her team is still focused on winning its 2 p.m. volleyball match at DePaul Saturday. Only, after the match, Brown plans on building some off-court team chemistry.

“I think we’re going to try to get to a place as soon as we can after our match, because we play at two as well, so we’ll end up going to someplace in downtown Chicago,” she said. “So we can watch as much as we can on TV.”

Once again, the Irish do not know as much about their opponent as they’d like to. DePaul is in its first year in the Big East Conference and has not played too difficult of a schedule. Brown, as usual, says her team must simply be itself. And, she says, getting by a young but hungry DePaul team quickly would be a bonus.

“I think the key for the match is playing really well on our side of the net,” she said. “I think they’ve [the Blue Demons] struggled a little bit in the conference.

“We have to pass well and defend well.”

No. 10 Notre Dame (14-1, 5-0 Big East) is on a seven-match winning streak. DePaul, on the other hand, sits at 3-14 overall and 0-5 in the Big East. While the Demons are looking for their first conference win, the Irish are looking to stay undefeated in the conference. Still, as usual, the Irish respect their opponent but are more worried about their own play.

“One of the most important goals is to have a high hitting percentage,” she said. “We just need to play well on our side.”

In their last match, the Demons were swept by Wisconsin-Milwaukee 30-16, 30-17, 30-21. Their offensive struggles continued as they hit for a .200 percentage in one of the games against the Panthers Wednesday night.

Throughout their seven-match winning streak, the Irish chemistry has, no doubt, improved on the court. They know each other well. Seniors Lauren Brewster and Lauren Kelbley just know where sophomore setter Ashley Tarutis is going to set up their spikes. Defensive players Meg Henican and Danielle Herndon just know when to hustle after a ball and when to hold back, to let a teammate dive instead. After team dinners and study sessions, they know each other off the court as well.

Yet Saturday, they’ll have an opportunity not many other top teams around the nation get – to become closer through watching their favorite football team.

So, despite leaving the campus on this bustling football weekend, the Irish hope to make the most of their Chicago trip.

Already ranked No. 10 and on a long winning streak, they hope to return with a win and a tighter bunch.