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Irish open home slate against ‘Cats

Laura Myers | Friday, October 2, 2009

Notre Dame (8-4, 2-0 Big East) will open its home conference schedule with a match against Villanova Sunday.

The Wildcats (11-4, 0-2) have been very successful so far in 2009 but fell to Cincinnati and Louisville last weekend in their opening Big East matches. 

“I think the Big East race goes throughout the whole season, and with them opening 0-2 … they for sure don’t want to go further in that direction,” coach Debbie Brown said. “They’re going to be very focused.”

Brown said the Irish will need to be focused as well in order to overcome Villanova’s biggest strength.

“They’re a really, really good serving team,” Brown said. “We know we’re going to have our hands full.”

In fact, the Wildcats average 2.2 service aces per set and have 138 on the season. The Irish defense averages about one service error per set. 

Notre Dame faced Villanova once last year, a 3-2 loss in Philadelphia, but with an undefeated conference record so far, Brown said the team wants to keep rolling.

“With us wanting to win [the conference], we’re in a good place right now,” Brown said. “But it’s so early and we just have to make sure that we’re competing at the top of our game every night.”

The Irish, who defeated Connecticut and St. John’s last weekend, are currently second in the conference behind South Florida, while Villanova sits in 12th despite having the second best overall record.

Villanova is the only team Notre Dame plays this week, an unusual occurrence for a squad that usually plays two or even three teams over a weekend. Nonetheless, Brown said the team’s preparation this week was no different.

“A lot of times we just watch film on whoever we’re going to play first,” she said. “The fact that we only play one, that’s what we’re going to do,” Brown said. “You have to prepare for whoever your next opponent is. Sometimes you’re going to have more days to do it than others, but it’s pretty much the same.” 

The match will be Notre Dame’s first Big East contest at home, a distinction not lost on Brown. 

“I always prefer to play at home,” Brown said. “It’s a slight advantage, sleeping on our own beds. It can also be more distracting, with the home football game and all kinds of other stuff going on, but I know we would much rather play at home.”

The game will begin at 2 p.m. at the Joyce Center Fieldhouse. 


uSenior outside hitter Serinity Phillips was named to the Big East Honor Roll Monday for her role in the wins over Connecticut and St. John’s. In those two matches she totaled 22 digs, 21 kills and 11 blocks, and was one block shy of a triple-double against Connecticut.

“[Phillips is] playing really well,” Brown said. “She’s certainly one of the keys to success and definitely deserving of those type of awards. An outside hitter who’s hitting over 33 percent is pretty darn good.”