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ND Volleyball: No fall break for Irish, who face Big East foes

Jared Jedick | Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Irish will fight through a tough schedule over the break when they play DePaul, Long Beach State, Villanova and Seton Hall throughout the next 10 days.

“Our team is pretty focused,” head coach Debbie Brown said. “We are hungry. We want to get back out there and compete.”

Three of the upcoming games are in the Big East, which could help the Irish (9-9, 4-2 Big East) move closer to their goal of winning the regular season conference title. With a .500 weekend against West Virginia (6-12, 0-6 Big East) and Pittsburgh (13-8, 5-1), the Irish fell from first place in the conference to a tie for third with Cincinnati (16-5), Georgetown (11-8) and Louisville (8-9). This puts the Irish in a bad position, Brown said.

“We would definitely still like to be in first,” Brown said. “Falling behind some teams really makes things tougher. We wish we were in a position where we could control things if we just won.”

Brown said she does not believe being behind or ahead in the standings has any effect on the way the team plays. She said she considers the team highly determined to win.

“The team has that attitude to compete all the time anyway,” Brown said. “Needing motivation is not a factor for us. We are already motivated.”

Coming up first today is a trip to play a struggling DePaul (2-16, 1-5 Big East) on the road. Brown said she feels confident that the team will be ready for the game, but is concerned about some fatigue creeping in around midterms.

On Tuesday is a rare non-conference opponent, Long Beach State (14-3, 4-1 Big West). The Irish hope this matchup will keep the team sharp over the break and allow the team to improve without affecting the conference standings.

“It is really good for us to have a match thrown in there,” Brown said. “There is no question that we are going to be playing to win. We are going to be pushed.”

At the end of fall break will be matchups against Big East opponents Villanova (11-9, 2-3 Big East) and Seton Hall (10-10, 2-3 Big East). Although both teams are below .500 in the Big East, Brown said she’s concerned that her team be properly prepared to face the Wildcats and Pirates.

“Both of these teams are good,” Brown said. “With the parity in the Big East, every team could beat any other team on any given night.”

These games are coming at the right time for the Irish, as they finally feel like they are starting to get healthy. Brown said she was especially happy that she has no new injuries to report. Junior outside hitter Serinity Phillips and freshman libero/defensive specialist Frenchy Silva are back and playing well, Brown said. Junior middle blocker Tara Enzweiler is getting ready to comeback soon.

Notre Dame will be back in the gym on campus in two weeks when it faces Big East foes Syracuse (12-9, 4-1 Big East) and Marquette (7-10, 2-3 Big East).