Blue Demons Win Sixth Straight, Take Drake Invitational
Sep 7, 2013
DES MOINES, Ia. - Senior outside hitter Vesela Zapryanova was sizzling, hitting a career-best .652 and burying 17 kills to lead the DePaul volleyball team to a sixth straight win, 3-1, against Eastern Illinois on Saturday at the Knapp Center.
With the result, DePaul moves to 6-0 and clinches its second consecutive tournament championship. Winners of the DePaul Invitational and the Drake Invitational to start the year, the Blue Demons will move into next weekend chasing the 2001 team's program record of nine wins to start a season.
Hitting .355 as a team, DePaul surpassed the .300 mark for the fifth time in six matches and completed its second comeback win of the weekend. Eastern Illinois fell to 3-4 overall with the setback.
Zapryanova (17-2-23) had a career day, adding seven digs and an ace on her way to tournament MVP honors. Her attack percentage of .652 was the third-best in modern program history on a minimum of 20 attempts and was the highest for DePaul since 2008.
Adding to the DePaul attack, the Blue Demon middles -- Natalie Rizzo and Randi Leath -- added 12 and 10 kills, respectively. Setter Colleen Smith paced the Blue Demon offense with 35 assists. Allyson Rooks led the defense with 19 digs.
Joining Zapryanova on the all-tournament team were Leath and Rizzo, who hit .404 over the weekend and was second on the team with 30 kills.
Sophomore Abbie Fleener also capped a solid weekend from the right side, adding seven kills and five blocks in the win.
Eastern Illinois grabbed set one behind a near-perfect performance, hitting .556 and committing zero errors before DePaul began its second comeback of the tournament.
In set two, the Blue Demons held EIU to a .143 hitting percentage and went for a .467 hitting percentage but still could not shake the Panthers. The set was tied as late as 23-23 before DePaul got a Zapryanova kill and benefited from an EIU error to tie the match at 1-1.
In the third frame, it was no contest. DePaul led by as many as 14 points, 23-9, before putting EIU away 25-14 on another kill by Zapryanova.
Looking to clinch the match, the Blue Demons got off to an 8-3 start in the fourth set capped by a Leath kill. Coming out of an EIU timeout, the Blue Demons ripped off five more points to lead 13-3 on their way to a decisive 25-15 set win.
The Blue Demons are back in action next weekend, Sept. 13-14, at The Citadel Tournament. DePaul opens up the weekend with a Friday match at 11:00 a.m. CT against Charleston Southern.
Match Notes: DePaul's season-starting win streak reaches 6-0, the best for the program since a 9-0 start in 2001... overall, it was the eighth straight win for DePaul... Zapryanova's hitting percentage of .652 was the best for DePaul since Jacie Fiedler hit .667 at Cal on Sept. 6, 2008... the Blue Demons have hit over .300 for the fifth time in six matches after hitting over .300 just four times all last season... the last time the Blue Demons won a match after a first set loss was Nov. 9, 2012 at St. John's...