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ND Volleyball: St. John’s, UConn next up at Purcell

Meaghan Veselik | Friday, October 29, 2010

The Irish will celebrate the holiday weekend by looking for a pair of victories as they host Big East opponents St. John’s and Connecticut, two teams that they have easily defeated in seasons past. To repeat that trend and not let either the Red Storm or the Huskies have their way, Notre Dame (13-9, 6-3 Big East) knows it has to stick to its game plan.

“For this weekend we’re really excited about having two new opponents that we know will pose a threat but also we can take care of as long as we’re on our game,” senior co-captain Angela Puente said.

Consistently staying on their game has been a challenge for the Irish in recent matches, who have lost four of their last six contests, all to conference rivals. In comparison to the team’s conference season last year, when they went undefeated, this seems shocking, but lacking six seniors who graduated last year has led to some changes.

The last two games have showed a much revitalized Notre Dame team, however, as the Irish defeated Syracuse 3-0 on Oct. 23, and battled with Marquette through five sets before falling 3-2 on Oct. 24.

The Golden Eagles victory over Notre Dame was another loss but not one without a few highlights for the Irish as three players recorded double-double performances. Freshman Andrea McHugh led the team with 19 kills and 10 digs, and was followed close behind by junior Kristen Dealy’s 14 kills and 14 digs, as well as freshman Sammie Brown’s 56 assists and 12 digs. Junior libero Frenchy Silva also posted double-digit digs with 12 and senior Kellie Sciacca had 12 kills and six blocks.

“One of our most recent themes in practice has been consistency,” Puente said. “We’re trying to emphasize the importance of playing at the same high level throughout a match, and the entire weekend, instead of allowing those ups and downs.”

While focusing on consistency in the execution of the game plan, the Irish aren’t letting the holiday spirit pass them by as they compete on their home court and have a little fun.

“On past Halloweens we’ve sometimes dressed up when we’re traveling, but this year I am bringing Halloween ribbons for everyone to wear in their hair,” Puente said. “You may see some crazy hairdos.”

Notre Dame will face St. John’s Saturday at 10 a.m. and Connecticut Sunday at 2 p.m., with both matches taking place at the Purcell Pavilion.