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Irish take on Marquette, Miami

Anne Loughery | Friday, April 2, 2004

All the Irish needed was a breath of fresh air.

Coach Jay Louderback attributed the team’s increased sense of confidence and tenacity to this week’s outdoor practices.

“We really needed to get outside and play,” Louderback said. “This week we had some really good practices because we played in weather we’d usually never play in. That was good for us.”

A lack of outdoor match experience was partly responsible for last weekend’s disappointing losses, Louderback said. No. 33 Wake Forest overwhelmed the No. 23 Irish 7-0. No. 9 North Carolina followed suit, defeating the Irish 5-0.

This weekend, the Irish hope to atone for last weekend’s losses as they face Marquette (3-12) Saturday and No. 15 Miami (8-9) Sunday. Louderback anticipates that garnering a win against both teams will be a daunting task.

Marquette returns from a tough 7-0 loss to Florida International Sunday. Louderback described the team’s performance as variable this season.

“They’ve had a lot of injuries,” said Louderback. “They have a solid team when everyone is playing, but we don’t know what their lineup will be like for the meet.”

The team’s ability to focus on the task at hand will pose a challenge for the Irish against the Golden Eagles. Heading into the meet, Louderback fears the players’ thoughts will center on Sunday’s match against Miami.

“We have to be ready for everyone, not just the ranked teams,” Louderback said. “First we have to look at Marquette and then we can think about the Miami meet.”

Sunday’s match against rival Miami will determine the No. 1 seed going into the Big East Tournament. The Red Hawks bring a greatly improved lineup to the courts, compared to last year’s team. They boast talented players at the top of the lineup. Although Miami fell to No. 57 Marshall 7-0 last weekend, Louderback emphasized that the Irish are not taking the match lightly.

“I think one of our main challenges against Miami will be keeping our emotions in check,” said Louderback. “It’s going to be a very emotional match, but I think our kids are used to tough matches against them.”

“Our kids always keep fighting. They’ve never given up a match ever – not even in practice.”