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ND Volleyball: Big East home stretch begins

Laura Coletti | Friday, September 28, 2012

The Irish are preparing to open their home Big East slate this weekend as they take on Marquette and Syracuse.

Notre Dame (9-5, 2-0 Big East) is coming off a stellar weekend, in which it beat Cincinnati and then-No. 10 Louisville, and is looking for repeat performances against the Golden Eagles (10-3, 1-0) on Saturday and the Orange (8-8, 0-1) on Sunday. Senior middle blocker Hilary Eppink said the Irish have spent significant time all week preparing, especially for Marquette.

“As a team, we’ve been preparing a lot for Marquette these last couple of days in practice,” she said. “They’re the second best team in the Big East, so it’s very important that we get this win because our goal is to win the Big East this season, so it’s a pretty big match for us. We’ve watched film and noticed different hitters and player tendencies. We’ve also been working on different hitting schemes to defend against some of their better hitters.”

The momentum and good feeling from last weekend should serve as motivation for the Irish to continue performing well this weekend, Eppink said.

“I think our team should be feeling really good about [last weekend] and wanting to go out there and repeat exactly what we did against Louisville,” she said. “We’ve been having good practices and playing with intensity and when it comes to game time, it’s just about knowing what to do and getting it done.”

Playing especially well for the Irish has been sophomore outside hitter Toni Alugbue, who garnered the Big East Player of the Week award for her performance last weekend. The team will continue to look to her for consistent play.

“Toni has really stepped up and is a huge asset on our team,” Eppink said. “I’m so glad she’s on our side because she’s such a powerful player. She can hit, dig, pass – she can do it all. We’re very lucky to have her on the court. She represents Notre Dame and the Big East so well, and we’re very proud of her.

“She’s been playing very consistently and strong and we’re looking for her to continue playing at a high level and picking teams apart like we know she can. It’s great too that she’s a sophomore, so she’s got two years to grow even more. We’re very excited for her.”

Eppink said the Irish will turn their attention to Syracuse once they’ve played Marquette.

The Irish are set to square off against the Golden Eagles at 2 p.m. Saturday and against the Orange at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Purcell Pavilion.

Contact Laura Coletti at lcoletti@nd.edu