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ND Volleyball: Notre Dame to face DePaul, Hawaii over fall break

By Cory Bernard | Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Irish will look to finish out the first half of Big East play with a victory over DePaul and a winning conference record before traveling to Hawaii for fall break. The team will fly to the “Aloha State” for more than just sand and surf, as Notre Dame will take on No. 8 Hawaii in back-to-back matches.

On Friday, the Irish (10-6, 3-3 Big East) travel to Chicago hoping to beat DePaul and finish above .500 for the first half of its conference matches. The Blue Demons (4-15, 1-5) have struggled so far this season, but according to Irish senior outside hitter Kristen Dealy, Notre Dame will need good concentration to take down DePaul.

“There’s always that thought in the back of your mind, but I think as long as we focus we will be alright,” Dealy said of overlooking the Blue Demons. “Games like these are the best because you know you will probably win, and you get to see how well-rounded the team is. Hopefully everyone can play and contribute and it will be a good team win.”

Freshman middle blocker Jeni Houser echoed Dealy’s sentiment and said she isn’t worried about the Irish slipping up against the inferior opponent.

“I’m not really too worried about [overlooking DePaul],” Houser said. “I think even if we do start to falter we’ll pick it up immediately.”

Dealy said the team is looking forward to the Hawaii trip after DePaul, but the Irish are focused on finishing off the Blue Demons first.

“I’m sure everyone is really excited for Hawaii, but in the Big East it seems like anything can happen,” she said. “We’re not going to overlook DePaul.”

With matches against the Warriors (15-1, 5-0 WAC) Monday and Tuesday, Notre Dame does not have much time to prepare after its conference match Friday. Dealy said the Irish have spent part of this week’s practices looking ahead to a talented Hawaii squad.

“We know Hawaii is much tougher competition,” she said. “We haven’t had much of a chance to scout them, but I do know they hit out of the back row a lot. It’s really detrimental to your team if you can’t defend shots out of the back row, so we’ve been incorporating some preparation for Hawaii this week. Ordinarily we wouldn’t do that, but there’s not much time after [DePaul].”

The Irish play DePaul on Friday at 7 p.m. CDT and take on Hawaii at 7 p.m. HST on both Monday and Tuesday.

Contact Cory Bernard at cbernard@nd.edu