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Volleyball Commentary: Struggles won’t last all season

Pat O'Brien | Thursday, September 20, 2007

Don’t worry, fans. Notre Dame’s 4-6 record means nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

Last season at this time, Notre Dame was 6-5 and primed for Big East play. With one look at the records, an uninformed person might say that Notre Dame was a lot better last year going into conference play. That person would be wrong – the team’s wins last year were against the likes of Bowling Green, Valparaiso and Butler.

This year’s schedule for the Big East’s pre-season favorite has been far different.

The 2007 campaign started with losses against No. 12 Minnesota and No. 6 Florida. On the way to 4-6, the Irish also stumbled against No. 19 Ohio and No. 11 California. Another loss came to a Missouri team that was ranked in the top 20 at the time.

Not only did the Irish face top competition during the non-conference schedule, the season’s turning point has already been reached. It happened last weekend in the Bronco Invitational in Santa Clara, Calif.

Junior outside hitter Mallorie Croal returned to the lineup against the Golden Bears, back from injuries that had sidelined her for the first eight games of the season.

In a match that saw Notre Dame up 2-0, the Irish could not hold on for the upset. Cal won last three games and took the victory 3-2. Because of the devastating loss against a top-tier opponent, Notre Dame could have just packed in its season in a style reminiscent of some recent Michigan State football teams.

But it didn’t.

Down 2-1 in their next game, on the road, to then-No. 22 Santa Clara, the Irish picked themselves off of the ground and made a comeback of their own. The Irish took the match against a team that beat them 3-0 a season ago.

Now, Notre Dame is ready for the Big East portion of its schedule. Of the 16 remaining games for the Irish, 14 are against the usually weaker conference foes.

Only one team in the conference is currently ranked – No. 21 St. John’s. Notre Dame plays the Red Storm and one ranked non-conference foe, No. 22 LSU.

The Irish are an exciting team poised for a winning streak.

So don’t give up on the Irish in their eight remaining home matches.

You won’t be sorry.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Pat O’Brien at pobrien2@nd.edu