The Irish blockers could be a major factor in Notre Dame's match against Louisville on Sunday.

Irish Open BIG EAST Play On Road

Sept. 20, 2012

Game Notes – BIG EAST OpenerGet Acrobat Reader



The Notre Dame volleyball team begins BIG EAST play on the road this weekend as the Irish travel to Cincinnati for a Friday matchup with the Bearcats before heading to Louisville on Sunday for a showdown with the No. 10 Cardinals.

The contest with Cincinnati (2-10) is slated for 7 p.m. (ET), while Sunday’s match with Louisville (11-1) is set to begin at 2 p.m. Both matches can be followed via live stats. Links are provided on Friday’s match can be viewed online with a monthly subscription to BearcatsTV. The match with the Cardinals will also be streamed online at CARDSTV. Fans can purchase a monthly subscription to BearcatsTV and CARDSTV for $9.95 each to watch the matches.

Notre Dame is coming off a 2-1 weekend at the Golden Dome Invitational. After knocking off Xavier (3-1) and falling to Loyola Marymount (3-1), the Irish showed great poise in knocking off Kansas (3-1), snapping its nine-match winning streak.

Leading the way for the Irish over the weekend were sophomores Toni Alugbue and Jeni Houser, as each earned a spot on the all-tournament team. Alugbue has now earned a spot on three all-tournament teams this season. She leads the team in kills (177), is third in digs (104) and fourth in blocks (24). In the BIG EAST Alugbue is fourth in kills per set (3.93), while Houser is tied for fifth (3.64). The Louisville, Ky., product is also ninth in the league in hitting percentage (.318). She ranks first on the team in attack percentage (.318), is second on the team in kills (164) and third in blocks (31).

The Bearcats record is highly deceiving, as eight of their 10 losses are to teams currently ranked in the AVCA Top 25. These include No. 19 Iowa State (3-0), No. 21 Tennessee (3-1), No. 15 Florida State (3-0), RV Northwestern (3-1), No. 20 Illinois twice (3-1, 3-1), No. 17 Purdue (3-1) and No. 9 Texas (3-0). Cincinnati was picked fourth in the preseason BIG EAST poll, just one slot behind the Irish.

Cincinnati is led by senior Jordanne Scott, who was named to the preseason all-BIG EAST team and leads the team in kills (180).

The Irish are 9-6 all-time against Cincinnati and 3-4 in BIG EAST play. Notre Dame has lost four straight to the Bearcats, including last season’s 3-0 loss in the finals of the BIG EAST Tournament.

Louisville, the preseason favorite to win the league crown, has gotten off to a blistering start to begin the season, winning 11 of its first 12 contests. Included in the 11 wins are impressive victories over RV Kentucky (3-1), No. 17 Purdue (3-0), No. 20 Illinois (3-2) and No. 24 Western Kentucky.

The Cardinals are led by 2011 BIG EAST Player of the Year and 2012 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year Lola Arslanbekova, who leads the team and conference in kills (205) and is second on the team in digs (153).

A key matchup in the contest between the Irish and the Cardinals could be along the frontline as Louisville is third in kills per set (13.84) and first in hitting percentage (.260), while the Irish are second in blocking per set (2.47).

Notre Dame is 18-10 all-time versus Louisville, including 4-3 in BIG EAST play. Last year the Irish eliminated the Cardinals from the BIG EAST Tournament with a 3-1 win in the semifinals, avenging a 3-1 home loss from earlier in the season.

The Irish have faired well during the BIG EAST’s opening weekend since joining the league in 1995. Notre Dame has started out 1-0 in league play 16 out of the 17 years and has started out 2-0 in 15 of the 17 seasons.

Following this weekend’s road trip, the Irish return home to Purcell Pavilion to meet Marquette and Syracuse on Sept. 29 and 30, respectively. Both matches will get underway at 2 p.m.