ND Volleyball: Irish face Eagles
By Conor Kelly | Friday, November 8, 2013
It will be a matchup of two former- Big East foes when the Irish travel to Chestnut Hill, Mass., on Saturday to face Boston College.
The Eagles (8-16, 0-12 ACC), who bolted from the Big East in 2005, and Notre Dame (10-14, 4-9), who followed suit last year, are now ACC conference foes.
Despite the traditional rivalry betweeh the two teams, Irish coach Debbie Brown said the two teams are not that
familiar with each other.
“We haven’t played them since they left the Big East,” Brown said. “It’s a new coach, and I’m not that familiar with any of the players, aside from being aware of them before they went to college. Before this year, we didn’t really pay that much attention to them.”
The Irish have won two of their last three matches and look to continue to improve on their play after losing their first five conference matches. While the team is a newcomer to the conference, the Eagles have had their fair share of struggles as well in the ACC, as they’ve gone winless in conference play thus far.
“I know that they’re pretty young and that they’ve had some injuries, and a couple people we’re not sure if they’re back in the lineup, stuff like that,” Brown said of the Eagles. “I think their coach is building a good, solid program.”
According to Brown, the biggest concern for the Irish continues to be an inability to generate a large number of kills.
“We spent a lot of time last week working on our offense, increasing the number of kills that we have and increasing our hitting percentage, those types of things,” Brown said. “I think we’ve made a lot of progress. It’s the things that we continue to work on, and the goal is obviously to win every match. That’s where we want to be this weekend when we play Bs.”
While offense has been a focus for the Irish, Brown was not quick to dismiss the importance of the defensive side of the ball. The Irish struggled defensively in a 3-0 loss to Syracuse on Wednesday, allowing the Orange to hit at a .313 clip in the final two sets. In both games, The Irish held leads they would eventually relinquish.
“They had a couple of outside hitters who we had a really hard time containing,” Brown said. “We knew going in that they were the two we were really going to have to deal with. I felt like we had opportunities in games two and three where we had the lead late in the game, but our blocking defense struggled with that.
Although Boston College is winless in conference, the Eagles are not a team to look past, as their 8-3 non-conference record suggests. Brown said one of the perks of the move to the ACC is that even bottom-dwellers are solid teams.
“We’re going in against a team that hasn’t had a conference win yet, but we know that they’re a very good program,” Brown said of the Eagles. “The ACC is very different from the Big East in that sense. It’s better teams, better records, better schedules. It’s just much stronger top-to-bottom, which I love. It’s definitely where we want to be, and it’s a good thing for us even if it’s a little tougher.”
The Irish face Boston College on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Power Gym in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Contact Conor Kelly at [email protected]