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ND Volleyball: Irish to face two conference foes

Cory Bernard | Thursday, November 10, 2011

Coming off a pair of victories in their final home matches of the year last weekend, the Irish will hit the road to finish the regular season.

Notre Dame (15-9, 8-4 Big East) faces conference foes Marquette and Syracuse on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

Last season the Golden Eagles (20-8, 10-2) got the best of the Irish, coming from behind to win in five sets. According to Irish coach Debbie Brown, avenging last year’s loss will require a sharp service game.

“When they receive serves, their side out is very strong,” she said. “Then they’re offense is very good. They have strong middle hitters and a very good right side hitter. They don’t give up points easily. Because they side out so well, it’s hard for teams to score points on them.”

Brown also said Marquette’s sparkling Big East record is no fluke, as many predicted them to have success this season.

“They’re one of the top teams in the Big East, I believe they were in the top four in the preseason poll,” she said. “They are definitely going to be a pretty good challenge. Louisville and Cincinnati have proven that they are very strong ⎯ they’re the top two teams in the conference right now. Marquette being right behind them wasn’t a surprise.”

Though behind the Golden Eagles in the conference rankings, the Orange (17-11, 6-6) are a talented squad, according to Brown. She said their blockers in particular will challenge her team.

“I think they are very good. It’ll be tough, too, because we’ll be on the road ⎯ that’s always tough,” Brown said. “They are a very, very good blocking team ¬⎯ that’s one of their strengths. We are going to have to work at our shots and make sure we don’t make any unforced errors.”

Though Brown remains concerned with Marquette and Syracuse, she does not fear an emotional letdown following the senior-day sweep against Rutgers last Sunday. She said her team is completely focused on the road trip.

“I don’t think so,” Brown said of the possibility of a letdown. “You have [senior day] every year. The seniors have their last home match and I think they were prepared for it. Now we’re just excited to go up to Marquette because we’ll be back here in a week for the tournament. We’re looking forward to going and playing up there and getting very familiar.”

Notre Dame will take on the Golden Eagles on Friday at 6 p.m, before facing Syracuse at noon on Sunday.

Contact Cory Bernard at cbernard@nd.edu