Nov 29, 2012, 9:23 AM EDT
Earlier this week, the Notre Dame volleyball team gathered together as one team at Club Naimoli located within the confines of the Joyce Center, hoping their season could be extended at least for one more game. It was Selection Sunday, and the Irish were anxiously awaiting whether or not they had received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Coming off three consecutive losses to Marquette, South Florida (in the first round of the BIG EAST tournament) and Ohio, the regular season hadn’t ended quite the way Notre Dame expected, but a chance to play another game would be the perfect opportunity to re-right the ship.
The good news popped up shortly after 4 p.m. as the live announcement of the tournament bracket on ESPNU revealed Notre Dame (20-9) would be playing Ohio State (22-10) this Friday at 5 p.m. ET in Lexington, Ky. For the Irish, it will mark the first time since 2009 that a Debbie Brown coached squad has appeared in the NCAA tournament. Should Notre Dame advance past the Buckeyes, it will face either 16th seeded Kentucky or East Tennessee State.
Overall, Notre Dame’s body of work and strength of schedule, especially during early non-conference play, helped in securing a tournament berth. Two impact wins came against top-six RPI teams including Louisville (No. 4) in five sets on the road and Kansas (No. 6) during the Golden Dome Invitational in mid-September. The Irish should relish the underdog role throughout the tourney, as many of their wins this season have been exciting, come-from-behind victories against higher rated opponents.
The Irish are one of three BIG EAST teams competing for a national championship this season. They will be led by all-BIG EAST first team selections Toni Alugbue and Jeni Houser, along with second team selection Maggie Brindock. Further information and game notes for the first round match-up against Ohio State will be available on und.com later this week.
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