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Volleyball Returns to Action in 3-0 Win Against Providence
Junior Natalie Rizzo tied for the team-lead with eight kills, while hitting a crisp .538 to help the Blue Demons win their season opener on Friday


Junior Natalie Rizzo tied for the team-lead with eight kills, while hitting a crisp .538 to help the Blue Demons win their season opener on Friday

Aug 30, 2013

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CHICAGO – The Blue Demons were clean and efficient to start the volleyball season on Friday, downing Providence 3-0 (25-19, 25-14, 25-22) in their opening match at the 2013 DePaul Invitational.

"I think the chemistry was pretty solid and the team really put everything together and played for each other," said head coach Nadia Edwards, who began her fourth season at the helm of the program on Friday night. "We'll look forward to coming out strong for our second and third matches tomorrow."

Hitting .311 as a team, DePaul committed just seven errors in the match – the program’s fewest since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 2005. It was also the first season opening win for the team since the 2009 season began with a 3-1 win at Florida Atlantic.

"I'm extremely proud of the effort and production the girls put on the floor," said Edwards. "We were working extremely hard on our efficiency in preseason, so it's nice to see them come out and put up those numbers."

Individually, seniors Natalie Rizzo and Vesela Zapryanova paced the offense with eight kills apiece. Rizzo picked her spots well from the middle and recorded a .538 attack percentage with just one error in 13 attempts.

Running the show on offense for the first time, Indiana transfer Colleen Smith – a sophomore – dished 27 assists and added three kills to go with five digs in an impressive debut performance. The defense was led by senior libero Allyson Rooks and Zapryanova, who each posted eight digs.

In set one the Blue Demons leaned on Rizzo, who responded with five kills in just six attempts. After the Friars got as close as 10-9 on a service ace by Jordan Wiesler, DePaul responded with a kill by Anastasiya Shutava followed by back-to-back points by redshirt freshman Randi Leath – who finished with six kills, six block assists and a .385 hitting percentage in her collegiate debut.

Providence would get no closer than two the rest of the way as the Blue Demons took a 1-0 lead in the match with a 25-19 set win.

The next frame saw sophomore Abbie Fleener put together a perfect hitting percentage, landing four kills on four attempts as the Blue Demons hit .333 to run away with the set, 25-14.

In the third set, the Friars showed some fight, tying the score 10 times and forcing six lead changes. DePaul would escape, however, after the score was locked up as late as 19-19. Back-to-back kills by Zapryanova and another by Smith helped DePaul take three-of-four points to lead 22-20.

A late service error allowed Providence back to within one, 23-22, but another Zapryanova shot forced match point before a Friar error closed the door on the Blue Demon win.

DePaul is back in action tomorrow, facing off with Chicago State at 12:00 p.m. CT. The Cougars fell in their tournament opener earlier on Friday, 3-0, to McNeese State.

Match Notes: DePaul committed just seven errors, it’s fewest since joining the BIG EAST in 2005… the season opening win was the first for the program since 2009… the Blue Demons are on a three-match win streak dating back to last season when the team defeated Rutgers and St. John’s to close the 2012 schedule… the team’s hitting percentage of .311 was the best for DePaul since October 7, 2012 when the Blue Demons hit .323 in a home match against UConn…