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ND Volleyball: Big East play begins on road

Pat O'Brien and Ellyn Michalak | Friday, September 21, 2007

After going 1-2 this past weekend in Santa Clara’s Bronco Invitational, the Irish will take the road again – but this time they hope to bring home more than one win.

The Irish upset No. 22 Santa Clara after losing to California and UC Santa Barbara last weekend and are ready to start conference play at Pittsburgh and West Virginia.

“We were disappointed to come back with only one win, but we felt good about the win against Santa Clara,” coach Debbie Brown said. “Coming back and winning a game against a tough team after being down 0-2 for the weekend really showed the team’s character. We are looking forward to this weekend because I feel we have prepared well to face our Big East opponents.”

Notre Dame is led by sophomore outside hitter Megan Fesl and senior captain outside hitter Adrianna Stasiuk. Fesl has recorded 141 kills and 103 digs this year, while Stasiuk has notched 129 kills and a team-high 137 digs.

Sophomore outside hitter Serinity Phillips has also played well – compiling 130 kills and 63 digs of her own. Senior setter Ashley Tarutis has helped with a team-high 407 assists.

Freshman libero Angela Puente has added 125 digs, while classmate Kellie Sciacca has 101 kills.

Last season the Irish fell 3-1 to the Panthers. The Panthers currently hold a season record of 6-7 and are coming off a 0-3 loss to No. 5 UCLA and a 3-0 victory over Cal State Northridge. This season the Panthers have dropped 0-3 decisions to both No. 10 Michigan and No. 15 San Diego.

“Pittsburgh is a very strong team that has always played very well,” Brown said. “They have beaten us the past couple of years, but our motivation is strong, and we are hoping to win against them this weekend.”

The Panthers are led by junior outside hitter Kelly Campbell and senior outside hitter Diana Andreyko with 187 and 177 kills, respectively. Sophomore libero Michelle Rossi paces Pitt with 216 digs and freshman setter Emily Burke has 512 assists this season.

The match against West Virginia features a Mountaineer team with an 8-3 record that lost to Notre Dame 3-0 last year. They have beaten Buffalo, Canisius and Akron this year, but were on the losing end against Butler, Marshall and Pepperdine. The Mountaineers have not faced a current top-25 team this year.

“West Virginia has a team with a few very good seniors, so they have good experience,” Brown said. “Playing on the road is always tough, but we are looking to go 2-0 on the weekend.”