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ND VOLLEYBALL: Notre Dame hits road for two Big East contests

Tom Dorwart | Friday, September 30, 2005

Starting today and through Sunday, the Irish (9-1) will be in four different states in as many days .

Notre Dame (9-1, 1-0 Big East) travels to Syracuse, New York for a 7 p.m. match against the Orange (10-5, 2-0 Big East) Friday. Then, the Irish will head to Milwaukee to take on Marquette (7-6, 1-1 Big East) in a 2 p.m. Sunday match.

On Thursday, the Irish left South Bend for Syracuse. And Saturday, they’re flying back to Chicago, only to take a bus to Milwaukee for the Sunday match.

While they might be jet-lagged and road-weary weary, and while their setting is constantly changing, one thing remains a constant for the Irish – volleyball.

No matter where they go, they go to play the same game.

“We leave Saturday morning [for Milwaukee],” coach Debbie Brown said. “We’ll walk through some things, and we’ll watch film to give our players a good idea of the offense [Marquette runs].”

Syracuse recently lost 3-1 in a hard-fought match against No. 3 Stanford.

Brown knows the Orange pose plenty of challenges for her team.

“They’ve got a lot of seniors and players who’ve played quite a bit,” she said.

“I don’t think they have any glaring weaknesses.”

Though the Irish have little time to prepare for both Syracuse and Marquette, they have experience in cramming for matches. Last Sunday, they swept Seton Hall at home. They followed that win with a Tuesday sweep of Loyola Chicago. Just like this weekend, Notre Dame had only a day to prepare for the Ramblers.

Brown’s clearly got a plan.

“Right now, obviously, we’re focusing more on Syracuse,” she said. “And then we’ll turn our attention, Saturday, to Marquette.”

The Irish knew little about Loyola Chicago but managed to make quick work of the underdog. Marquette, Brown said, is a stronger, more experienced squad, but, still, the Irish hope for similar results.

“We don’t know as much about them [as Syracuse] just because they’re new to the conference,” she said.

“They were a team that, last year, I think, many thought they should’ve been granted an at-large bid because they had a high RPI and finished strong in their conference.”

Neither of Notre Dame’s weekend opponents should be taken lightly, Brown said.

“I think they’re both pretty strong teams and for sure will be in the top half of the Big East this year.”

This weekend, the Irish will do much more traveling than they will do playing. They’ll be on the road – in unfamiliar places. But, when they’re on the court, they’ll feel right at home.