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ND Volleyball: Notre Dame heads east for two matches

Cory Bernard | Friday, October 28, 2011

With a trip to Hawaii already under their belts, the Irish have more travelling on the horizon.

Notre Dame (12-8, 4-3 Big East) will fly to Connecticut on Saturday to take on the Huskies and bus to New York to play St. John’s on Sunday, all before flying back in time for Monday’s classes.

Irish coach Debbie Brown said the travelling might seem unusual to some of the players considering the roster features a healthy number of young athletes.

“I think [playing on the road] can be difficult from that aspect,” Brown said of the constant travel. “It’s not too bad unless you’re sitting for a really long time, then it becomes more difficult. It’s a little bit different for the younger players who have maybe never been to these cities. It’s always a new experience.”

Notre Dame heads east after an easy three-set victory over South Florida last Sunday. With another few matches against sub-.500 opponents in Connecticut (11-12, 1-7) and St. John’s (10-15, 1-7) on the radar, Brown said she expects her team to take care of business.

“I really don’t worry about the letdown because we have so much unfinished business and so much left to prove,” Brown said. “We are really focused and really determined. I don’t think our team is looking at it like ‘This team isn’t very good, we can relax.’ UConn and St John’s, I think, are better than some of the teams we’ve played with better conference records. They both have some pretty gifted players and have just not been consistent.”

Looking forward, Brown said her team would likely not have a chance to finish atop the conference due to losses to Villanova, Cincinnati and Louisville. However, she said the Irish will be competitive in the Big East tournament due to their improved play down the stretch.

“From the beginning, we put a huge emphasis on Big East play,” she said. “When we lost the matches we did early on, we knew we put ourselves in a tight spot. We’ve just got to finish as high as we possibly can. It’s probably unlikely we can have part of the regular season championship, but we’ll have a shot at the tournament championship.”

Brown remains confident the Irish can put together a strong performance this weekend to generate momentum heading into the final matches of the year.

“Finishing strong is really important,” she said. “That’s the time of the year when you need to be playing the best and being the strongest. It’s not like you can cruise through the early part of the year, but it is important to play well at the end.”

Contact Cory Bernard at  cbernard@nd.edu