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Sibling rivalry renewed in ND women's basketball road trip to Virginia Tech

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Notre Dame women's basketball is still the top-ranked team in the nation thanks to a couple big wins at Purcell Pavilion last week.

The Irish topped Louisville in a 1 vs. 2 matchup, then took care of Wake Forest just days later.

Now, they have a new test with a difficult stretch full of road contests. Seven of Notre Dame's next 10 games will be played away from home, but head coach Muffet McGraw said the setting shouldn't impact the focus her team has shown in the past few weeks.

“It shouldn’t change for a veteran team," she said. "I think we should be the same whether we’re home or on the road. Obviously we don’t have our fans, and that’s the biggest thing we miss on the road. But we should be able to come out and play the same way.”

That stretch begins Wednesday at Virginia Tech, a team sitting outside of the top-25 but one McGraw knows could end the nine-game win streak if the Irish play a sloppy game.

“It’s difficult in this league because everybody’s good," she said. "Virginia Tech was ranked. They’re dying to get ranked and this is one that’ll get them ranked, so for them it’s the Super Bowl. We’ve got to be ready to take everybody’s best shot.”

There will certainly be one Hokies player giving it her best shot against the Irish: freshman Dara Mabrey, the younger sister of Notre Dame senior Marina Mabrey.

“A lot of people don’t get to see siblings play against each other at such a high level, so I’m really just excited to see my family and experience this," Mabrey said before practice.

The Mabreys are a hoops family through and through.

Marina's older brother Roy was a Division-II standout. She and her older sister Michaela were both McDonald's All-Americans before playing at Notre Dame. They're youngest sibling, brother Ryan, is a freshman playing high school hoops in New Jersey.

Now, facing her younger sister will offer a new opportunity against someone she's played against for years.

"I've never actually played her in a real game," she continued, "I don’t know if she plays the same in a game or not, guarding her, but I know she wants to shoot it.”

"I think this is going to be really interesting," said McGraw. "I’m not sure if I should match them up together or keep them far apart! That’ll be the decision I have to make.”

The Irish and Hokies tip off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night.

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