After recording two double-doubles over the weekend, setter Lauren Richards will look to lead her team to victory against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in the Smith Fieldhouse Wednesday night. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- The Cougars will step out of Mountain West Conference play this week to host an unfamiliar foe as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish come to town Wednesday night for only the second time in the program's history. At 10-8 overall and 4-3 in the MWC, BYU hopes to gain some momentum before heading to No. 14 Utah on Saturday.
"Notre Dame is always a good team," said BYU head coach Karen Lamb. "We need to keep improving, be more disciplined and take care of the details. Our focus is on playing consistently."
Match time for the Cougar-Irish battle is set for 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse. Fans of the Cougars can see the action live on KBYU or BYUTV, available on the Dish Network and DirecTV Plus. Live stats will be available on the BYU Women's Volleyball home page at http://www.byucougars.com/volleyball_w/.
BYU and Notre Dame have faced off only three times previous to this week's contest, with the last matchup coming in 2000. The Cougars hold a 2-1 series advantage in those matches, including a 1-0 record at home.
The 9-5 Fighting Irish, ranked No. 23 in the preseason poll, will be a tough test for the Cougars. Notre Dame is one of only two Division I teams to return three AVCA All-Region and Honorable Mention All-America honorees. Emily Loomis is now 12th all-time at Notre Dame with 1,139 career kills. Lauren Brewster, who led the nation in blocking last year with 1.68 per game, has recorded double-digit kills in the last 12 straight matches. Lauren Kelbley leads the Irish in kills with 3.91 per game and has recorded 20-plus kills on four separate occasions so far this season.
Notre Dame also welcomes the contributions of freshman Adrianna Stasiuk, who has been named the Big East Rookie of the Week the past two weeks.
The midweek matchup is a chance for the Cougars to rebound from a tough weekend on the road. BYU dropped two MWC matches with losses at Wyoming and at then-No. 7 Colorado State. BYU came out strong against the Cowgirls, taking the first game 30-27 but could not capitalize on the early lead, losing the next three games, 28-30, 31-29, 27-30. Lexi Brown and Erica Lott led the Cougars with 16 kills apiece while Lauren Richards recorded her fifth double-double on the year with 10 kills and 55 assists.
In the second half of the Front Range trip, BYU was swept in Fort Collins by the Rams, the first three-game loss of the year for the Cougars. BYU managed just .147 hitting and was out-blocked for only the second time this season. Lott was the only Cougar to record double-digit kills with 13 while Richards once again doubled up with 28 assists and 10 digs.