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Irish travel to Ball State on Sunday

Kate Gales | Friday, March 26, 2004

As the weather improves, so have the Irish.After moving to 11-7 with a win over Michigan Tuesday, the No. 36 Irish look to establish a winning streak as they travel to Ball State Sunday.Notre Dame is 4-2 since the beginning of March. A win this weekend could begin a win streak similar to the four-game stint the Irish went on in mid-February.Ball State is 5-10, winning none of their ten matches against ranked opponents. They are picked to finish second in the Mid-American conference in a tight race with Western Michigan.”We feel we have a reasonably good chance to beat them,” coach Bobby Bayliss said. “[Our team is] guardedly optimistic. We know they’re scrappy. The Northwestern [coaching staff] warned me that they could be trouble.”The match is scheduled for the outdoor courts, a first for the Irish in the regular dual-match season. Bayliss has used the spring weather to help transition the Irish from playing indoors.”If we get outside tomorrow, it will help us,” he said. “I actually hope we play outside because we need the outdoor play to prepare for [upcoming matches at] Florida State and Virginia Tech.”The Irish beat the Wolverines 5-2 on Tuesday in a match that was closer than the score indicated, despite the illness of three top players battling illnesses and the difficulty of a Big Ten opponent.However, the health of the team should not be a concern this weekend.”I expect everyone to be at 100 percent,” Bayliss said. Matthew Scott, Luis Haddock and Ryan Keckley practiced Thursday and are expected to be at full strength by the Sunday match.After the trip to Michigan, the Irish spent two practices honing each player’s personal techniques.”We’ve been focusing on some of the things that have shown up in matches that we really need to stress individually,” Bayliss said.The match begins at 1 p.m.