DePaul Volleyball Goes Distance, Downs UT Martin 3-2
Sept. 1, 2012
MARTIN, Tenn. - Junior Vesela Zapryanova came up big again, burying a career-high 20 kills as the DePaul volleyball team took a 3-2 (24-26, 25-19, 19-25, 25-22, 15-9) win against UT Martin in the finale of the First State Skyhawk Invitational on Saturday, September 1 at Skyhawk Fieldhouse.
With the win, the Blue Demons evened their season record at 3-3 and finished second overall (2-1) at the weekend tournament. UT Martin dropped to 1-5 on the season and fell to third-place in the aftermath of the weekend's last and most exciting match.
"We came out very flat and made too many errors to be in a position to compete in the morning match," said head coach Nadia Edwards. "However, I am very pleased that the team showed how resilient they could be in a short amount of time, regained their focus and learned from their mistakes. We played as a team against UT Martin and everyone focused on doing their job, which put us in a position to be successful."
The back-and-forth contest came with some eye-popping numbers on both sides. For DePaul, Zapryanova reset her career-high in kills for the second time in one day after putting up 19 earlier Saturday versus Troy. The outside hitter also got under 19 balls to set a new career mark for digs.
"[Vesela] showed her true leadership and experience this weekend," said head coach Nadia Edwards. "Saturday, she really came alive towards the end of our match against Troy and had a great all-around match vs. UT Martin. There is no doubt she wants the ball in key moments and has certainly come through."
Freshman Callie Huebener joined in the personal record-setting with 19 kills of her own and 15 digs, which tied her career-high from earlier in the day versus Troy.
UT Martin's defensive stalwart at libero and AVCA Honorable Mention All-American, Kasey Elswick, made it hard for the Blue Demons to put ball on the ground with 32 digs -- the most by a DePaul opponent this season.
Junior defensive specialist Allyson Rooks was DePaul's answer, finishing by tying her career-high with 16 digs (after posting 14 in the early match) and earning her way aboard the All-Tournament Team alongside Zapryanova. Freshman libero Tyler Graham also got under 13 balls as the fourth Blue Demon to record a double-digit dig total.
As a team, DePaul put up season best marks in service aces (8) and digs (77) and held an advantage at the net, out-blocking the Skyhawks, 9.5-5.
DePaul took the first point of the match off a kill by Zapryanova, but promptly dropped the next five points and trailed 7-3 early. A five-point run, capped by a Huebener kill, helped DePaul reclaim the lead. The Blue Demons held the lead for the majority of the set, and were in control as late as 22-21 before giving up three straight points. Zapryanova came up with a clutch kill to help DPU tie the score at 24, but followed the point with a service error. UTM's Emily Keaton then closed out the set with a kill.
In set two, DePaul raced out to a 12-6 advantage and held on, 25-19, to even the match at one set apiece. The next set would go to UT Martin by the reverse score, however, as the Skyhawks held the Blue Demons to a .000 hit percentage (nine kills, nine errors). After jumping out to a 7-3 lead in the first 10 points of the set, DePaul climbed back to within one, at 9-8, but would not get any closer.
Facing defeat in set four, DePaul pulled ahead 6-1 early and forced an early set timeout. The Skyhawks battled back out of the stoppage, claiming 11 of the next 17 points to tie the set at 12. Huebener buried the next point for DePaul, however, and the Blue Demons went on a 5-1 run to reassert control. Leading 17-13, the Blue Demons would not allow UT Martin any closer than two points down the stretch and took the set, 25-23.
Set five stayed close early, and a Huebener kill gave the Blue Demons the lead, 8-6, going into the side switch. Leading 10-8, DePaul surrendered a point to allow back within one. The Blue Demons then responded by running off five straight points to clinch the match on a block by Zapryanova.
DePaul will be back in action next weekend at the Chicago Classic, hosted at Mother McAuley High School in Everygreen Park, Ill. Participating teams include No. 4 Penn State, Oregon State and local-rival UIC. The Blue Demons will begin tournament play on Saturday, September 8 with 10:00 a.m. matchup against the Nittany Lions.