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DePaul's Dominant Block Not Enough in 3-1 Loss to Creighton
Senior Natalie Rizzo eclipsed a career-high with eight total blocks on Saturday afternoon.


Senior Natalie Rizzo eclipsed a career-high with eight total blocks on Saturday afternoon.

Oct. 26, 2013

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CHICAGO - Abbie Fleener hit a sizzling .514 to go with a match-high 20 kills, but a diverse and efficient attack helped visiting Creighton get the better of Blue Demon volleyball, 3-1 (25-18, 22-25, 25-23, 25-22), on Saturday at McGrath-Phillips Arena.

The Bluejays (15-5, 6-2 BIG EAST) got double-digit kill efforts from four players, including a team-high 16 from Leah McNary, as they hit .372 to defeat DePaul for the second time this season.

It was, however, a tightly-contested affair. The Blue Demons put together a .297 attack percentage and had chances to win in each of the last three sets.

On the front line, DePaul held an 11.5-9 advantage against the nation's seventh-ranked block -- Creighton came into the weekend second in the BIG EAST and seventh in the NCAA with an average of 2.91 blocks per set. Senior Natalie Rizzo played a big role, rejecting a career-high eight balls.

Offensively, Fleener was unstoppable in her third career match with 20-plus kills, hitting a career-high .514 (20-2-35) and adding two block assists. She got help from senior outside hitter Vesela Zapryanova, who added 17 kills on an efficient .289 hitting percentage. Sophomore Callie Huebener also reached double-digits for the second straight match, tallying 10 kills.

Sophomore Colleen Smith had a match-high 55 assists, while senior libero Allyson Rooks paced the contest with 22 digs -- that total leaves her four short of 1,000 for her career heading into tomorrow's match versus Villanova.

In set one, both teams committed just two errors in a preview of what would be a very clean match. DePaul connected at a .464 clip (15-2-28), but was out-paced by Creighton's .571 mark (18-2-28) in a 25-18 loss.

The Blue Demons were outhit again in set two, .300-.225, but found a way to even the match, 25-22, behind five kills by Fleener and three service aces. Leading 24-22 after a Huebener kill, it was an ace by Rizzo on set point that evened the match heading into intermission.

DePaul hit .400 in set three and got six kills from Zapryanova, while out-blocking CU 5-1, but was unable to score late in a 25-23 setback. After leading 22-21 on a Huebener kill, a service ace and a kill by CU's Lauren Smith led to a timeout as DePaul trailed, 23-22.

The Blue Demons were able to even things up on the next point, coming out of the stoppage, as Randi Leath struck from the far side of the court. McNary nabbed the following point on a kill, however, and a DePaul error put the Bluejays up 2-1 in the match.

Creighton closed out the win in the fourth, hitting .325 in a 25-22 decision. Fleener put up six kills in the clincher as Creighton spoiled a frame DePaul led by as many as five.

The Blue Demons will get right back to action tomorrow, taking on Villanova to close out the tri-match weekend at 3:00 p.m. CT. Fans are encouraged to wear pink as DePaul will be hosting its annual Dig Pink Match to benefit the Side-Out Foundation.

Match Notes: Fleener's .514 hitting percentage was a career-high... Rizzo's three solo blocks and eight total blocks both were career marks... Smith tied a career-best with three block assists... the Blue Demons out-blocked Creighton, which came into the weekend ranked seventh in the nation in blocks per set (2.91)... DePaul improved its hitting percentage by over 200 since the season's first meeting, hitting .297 after putting up a .093 mark in Omaha... DePaul is now on a season-high three-match losing streak...