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ND Volleyball: Irish fall to Big East opponents

Cory Bernard | Monday, October 3, 2011

Notre Dame faced two Big East powerhouses this weekend at home, but Cincinnati and Louisville both left South Bend victorious by a 3-1 margin over the Irish.

“It was a really big weekend for us,” Irish coach Debbie Brown said. “We knew these two opponents are maybe one and two in the conference and definitely both in the top three.”

The Irish (8-6, 11-3) dropped the first two sets against Cincinnati (12-6, 4-0) by two points each and took the third set by a large margin before falling in the fourth.

The team’s disappointment stemmed from a few crucial missed opportunities. Brown said Notre Dame executed well and put itself in position to beat a top team, but could not finish the job.

“Against [Cincinnati] we were in a situation to win two of the sets for sure and let it get away,” Brown said. “It was really disheartening and frustrating, but we played at a really high level. We hit .291 as a team on Saturday. It’s tough because it was right there but we couldn’t quite close it out.

On Sunday, Notre Dame cruised to a 25-17 first-set win before dropping three straight against the Cardinals (12-4, 4-0).

“We went in [against Louisville] and started very strong, and I thought the team executed really well but then we, again, didn’t finish strong,” Brown said. “Even the one we won, we didn’t really finish strong in that set.”

Though plenty of self-inflicted wounds cost her team, Brown gave credit to the Cardinals. The preseason pick to win the Big East, Louisville rebounded from a lopsided first set to close out the Irish.

“We have some things that we can work on, but I give Louisville credit,” Brown said. “Obviously they’re a very talented team. But they also did a good job of mixing up their serves and blocking, and we just didn’t adjust to that very well. They used short serves to take us out of some of our offense, and it worked. We weren’t able to compensate for it, and that gave them the edge they needed.”

As the Irish look to respond to a three-game conference losing streak, Brown said her team will focus on the positives from the weekend and continue to improve.

“We had a great start [against Louisville] and we’re going to hang on to that,” she said. “We had a rough finish but played really well against Cincinnati, and were going to hang on to that as well.

“We never want to lose — it’s not acceptable at all — but we know that we’re going to get better and that’s the goal. We’re going to hold our heads up high and get better.”

The Irish have the entire week to fulfill Brown’s request for improvement before a chance to redeem themselves in the Big East with conference match-ups at Pittsburgh on Saturday and West Virginia on Sunday.



Contact Cory Bernard at [email protected]