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Volleyball Midseason Report

Sep 17, 2012, 11:41 PM EDT

Andrea McHugh (left) celebrates with teammates during Sunday's 3-1 victory over Kansas.

After last weekend’s victories over Xavier and Kansas as part of the Golden Dome Invitational, Notre Dame volleyball heads into BIG EAST conference play with a record of 7-5. The Irish squad will hit the road to take on Cincinnati on Friday and Louisville on Sunday, before returning to Purcell Pavilion for a four-game home stand. Here’s what we’ve learned about Coach Debbie Brown‘s 2012 team thus far:

1. Toni Alugbue has emerged as a leader. The sophomore right side hitter has been Notre Dame’s most consistent force in almost every aspect of the game. Alugbue leads the team in kills (177) and points (196.5), while also ranking second in attack percentage (.281) and third in digs (104). She’s also been named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll three consecutive times dating back to the week of September 3. Look for Alugbue to make even more noise during conference play as this young Irish team aims to continue improving.

2. Notre Dame won’t back down from tough competition. Coach Debbie Brown has said it before and she will continue to iterate that Notre Dame’s challenging schedule is not an excuse to back down. And so far, the Irish have battled four top-20 opponents, including a near upset of No. 17 San Diego back on September 8 that ended in a nailbiting five-set loss. Factor in Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Kansas that ended the Jayhawks’ nine game win streak, and Notre Dame has proven it can hang with the nation’s best teams.

3. The Irish are deep across the board. Through the first twelve games, it has been quite evident that the Irish are deep at virtually every position, giving Debbie Brown plenty of lineup options from which to choose. Eleven players have seen extensive minutes on the court that include five underclassmen. Expect Notre Dame to utilize this advantage heading into BIG EAST play to confuse and outsmart its opponents.

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