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DePaul Sweeps Away St. John's
Sophomore Natalie Rizzo registered four solo blocks and four kills in the match.


Sophomore Natalie Rizzo registered four solo blocks and four kills in the match.

Oct. 28, 2011

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QUEENS, N.Y. - On Friday night in New York, the DePaul volleyball team notched its second BIG EAST Conference win of the season as it took down St. John's in straight sets (25-21, 25-20, 25-17). The win moves the Blue Demons to 2-7 in BIG EAST action and 6-18 overall while the Red Storm falls to 1-8 in league play, 10-16 overall.

"Tonight was about execution of the game plan from start to finish," head coach Nadia Edwards said following the match. "The team played with a lot of energy and a lot of heart."

"Everybody was on the same page at the same time," she said. "The team really worked together well and for each other."

That energy and teamwork was apparent from the opening frame. Sophomore Natalie Rizzo displayed solid all-around play. While going a perfect two-for-two in kills, Rizzo put up two solo blocks, two digs, and two service aces to propel DePaul to a first set win.

"Natalie was one of the reasons why we were able to distribute the ball so well," Edwards noted. "She was able to really defend well one of their number one hitters and that helped us to distribute the ball in different places."

It was a tight first set as the squads found themselves tied on five separate occasions until, after a 15-15 deadlock, the Blue Demons began to pull away. Senior Lauren Blasi broke the tie with a strong kill before Rizzo added a block. Up 21-16, the largest margin of the match, the Blue Demons saw the Red Storm creep back in to bring it to 21-19. DePaul answered by taking four of the next six points, capped off by a kill from Amy Lanski, to win the first set 25-21.

The second set saw DePaul carry over its momentum from the first. After falling behind 3-1 early, the Blue Demons rattled off seven straight points to grab hold of an 8-3 lead. During that run, the Blue Demons benefited from three St. John's errors while Katie Gamsky registered two service aces, Lanski racked up two more kills, and Lauren Blasi picked up a kill of her own. The Red Storm halted the run by notching a kill of its own, but Rizzo answered with her third of the night. The Blue Demons brought the score to 11-5 before St. John's was forced to burn its second timeout.

“It’s great to have that balance in our offense," Edwards commented. "When you have three or four players that you can distribute to, it can help us to achieve our goals offensively and be a little more balanced.”

Following the timeout, the match turned to back-and-forth play but the Blue Demons maintained the advantage. With the score at 16-13 in favor of DePaul, Lanski reentered and swiftly batted down her eighth kill of the match to bring the score to 17-13. Rizzo followed with her third solo block and first blocking assist of the evening to stretch the Blue Demon lead.

St. John's brought the score back to within four at 20-16 which led to a DePaul timeout. Out of the break, sophomore Allyson Rooks tallied a kill and after an SJU point, Rachel Aumann did the same. With the score at 24-20 following an Anastasiya Shutava kill, Lanski dropped in her ninth kill of the night to close out the set at 25-20 and give DePaul a two-set advantage.

The third frame was tight from the get-go as St. John's would not go quietly.

"St. John’s is an athletic team and a very veteran team," Edwards said about the BIG EAST foe. "They’re going to finish the conference season strong." 

With the score knotted at 7-7, the Blue Demons gathered eight of the next 10 points to take hold of a commanding 15-9 lead, causing the Red Storm to again burn its second timeout. Following the timeout, DePaul tallied three more points to double up the Red Storm with an 18-9 score. St. John's countered quickly, however, and pulled the score to 21-17. Shutava notched her sixth kill of the evening to make it 22-17 before Aumann registered a block and a kill to bring the Blue Demons to match point. On the b rink of their second BIG EAST win, the Blue Demons closed it out when St. John's committed an attacking error for a 25-17 final.

DePaul looks to continue its hot streak on Sunday as the Blue Demons travel to Storrs, Conn., to take on the 1-7 Connecticut Huskies.

"We’re looking for the opportunity to be on the road and play well against a pretty good team," Edwards said about UConn. "Our team is definitely fired up after this win and ready for the next challenge."

Notes: Amy Lanski finished with a match-high 13 kills...Natalie Rizzo totaled seven blocks in the match (four solo, three assists)...Rachel Aumann hit .400 in the match with six kills...Anastasiya Shutava and Lauren Blasi also notched six kills...Katie Gamsky's 32 kills were also a match-high...this was DePaul's first straight-set win in the BIG EAST since 2008 against Rutgers.