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Irish prepare to face instate rival

Anne Loughery | Tuesday, September 7, 2004

If Valparaiso expects to play an ego-bruised and vulnerable squad tonight, the Irish have news for them.Despite emerging with a 1-2 record after losing a weekend series to No. 2 Nebraska, the Irish aren’t disheartened. In fact, they have found a new sense of confidence.”We should’ve beat Nebraska on Saturday,” freshman Adrianna Stasiuk said. “We saw that we could stick with any team in the country. Every time they made mistakes, we capitalized on their errors. “We can only get better from here on.”Since the Nebraska matches, the Irish have worked to fortify their offense, zeroing in on side-out offense and services. All of this offensive conditioning should prepare the team for both tonight’s match and for the rest of the season, coach Debbie Brown said.”We need to play at the highest level we can from the first point to the last. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing; we can’t just be up for a ranked team,” Brown said. “Our opponents will not be a challenge as much as maintaining a consistent level of play.”We need to play at the highest level we can from the first point to the last.” Valparaiso will present plenty of challenges to both the Irish offense and defense. The Crusaders are off to a good start this year after receiving a bid to the NCAA Tournament last year. Last weekend, the team defeated Southeast Missouri State, Albany and Ball State in three games each. What makes Valparaiso’s team so successful, Stasiuk said, is their great presence at the net in regards to bloc-king and their tendency to work the outsides of the court. After reviewing tapes of the Crusaders’ play, the Irish believe they have identified their opponent’s weaknesses and have adjusted their game plan accordingly. “Our hitters will really have to work their shots and vary them,” Stasiuk said. “It will be really important to keep a high level of intensity and be aggressive.”The Irish will take the court to face Valparaiso at 7 p.m. tonight in the Joyce Center.