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ND Volleyball: Irish begin Big East play

By Joe Wirth | Friday, September 21, 2012

After snapping Kansas’ nine-game winning streak Sunday, the Irish look to carry that momentum into this weekend when they face two conference foes.

The Irish will kickoff conference play Friday with a game at Cincinnati before traveling west to No. 10 Louisville for a match Sunday afternoon.

Because the Irish have had a lot of back-to-back matchups already this year, Notre Dame coach Debbie Brown does not predict the quick turnaround to be a problem for her team.

“We’re used to playing back-to-back, as we’ve done it the first four weekends of the season,” Brown said. “We will actually have a day off in between the two matches this weekend, which will help us to be fresher for our match versus Louisville and allow us to do a thorough film session and walk-through on Saturday.”

The Irish will have their hands full as they open up the conference season. Louisville is a top-10 team and was the preseason favorite to win the Big East. The Cardinals also boast last year’s Big East Player of the Year in senior outside hitter Lola Arslanbekova, who is currently leading the conference in kills with 205.

Despite the fact that Cincinnati has only won two matches this season, the Bearcats have played one of the toughest schedules in the country. The Bearcats have also had the Irish’s number of late. Notre Dame has lost their last four decisions to Cincinnati, including last year’s 3-0 defeat in the Big East Championship.

“We play Cincinnati first on Friday and they are a very strong team,” Brown said. “Their record is very deceiving, as they also played an incredibly strong schedule. We need to start off strong against Cincinnati and continue our strong play versus Louisville on Sunday.”

The Irish have faced a difficult non-conference schedule thus far and are looking forward to fighting for a Big East Championship. The team feels confident heading into conference play and Brown said she thinks the win against Kansas last weekend is a harbinger of things to come.

“The win against Kansas was really important for us and it will definitely help us as we enter the Big East,” Brown said. “We played great competition in the non-conference section of our schedule and it has been great preparation for us. The team feels good about our win against Kansas and I like that we were composed and confident at the end of each set.”

Notre Dame will begin the first of its weekend duo at 7 p.m. against Cincinnati at Fifth Third Arena and they will finish the weekend play at Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center at 2 p.m. Sunday.