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ND Volleyball: Villanova and Georgetown to visit Notre Dame

Cory Bernard | Friday, September 23, 2011

After three straight wins — a streak during which they lost only one set — the Irish return home this weekend for a pair of Big East matchups.

Notre Dame will open conference play Saturday against Georgetown, and will face Villanova Sunday. ESPNU will nationally televise the Villanova match.

Irish senior outside hitter Kristen Dealy said that, unlike some common Big East opponents, the Hoyas and the Wildcats have remained similar foes from year to year.

“With some schools, you face a totally different group every year,” Dealy said. “With Georgetown and Villanova, though, they have been pretty consistent the last couple of years.”

During last year’s regular season, the Irish played both programs on the road. They swept the Hoyas, but fell to the Wildcats 3-1. The Irish later avenged the loss to Villanova with a win over the Wildcats in the Big East championship. Dealy said the Irish must remain focused if they want to beat both schools this season.

“Georgetown is normally a little weaker, which means we just need to focus on playing really clean and taking care of business,” she said. “Villanova is a crazy defensive team. They always give us a hard time. To beat them it’s a matter of being really mentally tough because they can just out-dig you.”

As a senior, Dealy has experienced her share of ups and downs throughout the Big East season. She said she wants to make sure Notre Dame’s younger players stay focused when playing teams like Georgetown and Villanova.

“One thing about the Big East is you can look back at the end of the season and think, ‘I really wish we had taken those teams more seriously,'” Dealy said. “With the younger girls having never experienced that regret, I feel the responsibility to remind them to keep focused.”

The Irish hope the presence of ESPNU cameras and the prospect of a free t-shirt will attract a large crowd. Loud support from fans can only aid Notre Dame’s effort, Dealy said.

“Volleyball is really based on chemistry, energy and momentum,” she said. “It’s good when you have a lot of people talking on the court, and when people in the stands are talking, they contribute to that energy and momentum. It also makes it more fun to play.”

The Irish take the Joyce Center court at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.