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ND Volleyball: Big East foes to test Irish win streak

Joe Wirth | Friday, October 26, 2012

Notre Dame will put its six-game winning streak on the line this weekend as it hosts Pittsburgh and South Florida in Big East action.

This streak has vaulted the Irish (15-6, 8-1 Big East) into a tie for second place in the Big East with Marquette (18-4, 8-1), just a half-game behind conference leader Louisville (20-3, 9-1).

Irish coach Debbie Brown said the team’s good play has been a byproduct of working together and putting together quality team efforts.

“I have been very pleased with our play,” Brown said. “It is not like there has been one girl carrying the team – it has been a collective effort from all of the players.”

The Irish have lost only one set during this stretch, and Brown said the team’s improved defense has been the main reason for their recent success.

“It has been a team effort all the way around and we have been able to get a lot of girls involved,” Brown said. “The key has been our steady defense and our ability to transition and turn that good defense into scoring opportunities.”

Both Pittsburgh (13-11, 4-6) and USF (13-10, 5-5) have strong offenses and will test the Irish defensively. The Panthers boast two of the best kill specialists in the Big East in sophomore Jessica Wynn and senior Alexa Campbell. Wynn leads the team with a total of 181 kills with a 2.55 kills-per-set ratio and Campbell is second on the team with 173 kills.

“Pitt really packs the middle on offense,” Brown said. “They are one of the better offensive teams in the conference. They have a lot of hitters with live arms and just have a lot of offensive firepower.”

The Bulls are coming off a win against St. John’s on Sunday and also will provide a stern test for the Irish. The Bulls have a balanced offense, but they beat the Red Storm with their defense, limiting St. John’s to a .190 hitting percentage.

The Bulls are led by one of the best freshman in the Big East in Erin Fairs. She is second on the Bulls with 224 kills and leads the team with a 2.70 kills-per-set ratio.

The Irish will take on Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. Friday at the Joyce Center Field House. Notre Dame will then wrap up weekend play with its game against South Florida at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Purcell Pavilion.

Contact Joe Wirth at jwirth@nd.edu