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Blue Demon Volleyball Releases 2014 Schedule
Randi Leath, Colleen Smith and the Blue Demons open the 2014 season with the Blue Demon Invitational at McGrath-Phillips Arena.

Randi Leath, Colleen Smith and the Blue Demons open the 2014 season with the Blue Demon Invitational at McGrath-Phillips Arena.

July 9, 2014

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CHICAGO – Entering her fifth year at the helm, DePaul volleyball head coach Nadia Edwards announced the 2014 Blue Demon schedule on Wednesday.

In addition to its annual home tournament, the DePaul Invitational, volleyball will host nine conference home matches and travel to preseason tourneys at Chicago State, Evansville and Penn State. The Blue Demons will face off against five NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, including the national champion Nittany Lions on September 19.

"We put this preseason tournament schedule together to help us prepare for the rigors of the BIG EAST," said Edwards, who has guided the Blue Demons to improved win totals in each of her first four seasons. "We’re excited for the competition we’re bringing in at our annual home tournament and each weekend our goal will be to get the girls some more experience on the court, as well as developing our chemistry. Our final weekend we go to Penn State and that’ll be our most challenging tournament, which should prepare us to go into conference play with a lot of momentum."

The 2014 season opens up with the annual DePaul Invitational from August 29-30 at McGrath-Phillips Arena. The Blue Demons will welcome teams from Bradley, Stony Brook and Hampton. The Pirates return AVCA Honorable Mention All-American rightside Vendula Strakova and are coming off a 19-11 season and MEAC Tournament championship, which saw the program make its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance – a 3-0 loss to Stanford on Dec. 6, 2013.

After its home tourney, DePaul heads to a local tournament at Chicago State featuring competition against several teams with which the Blue Demons hold a lot of history – Syracuse, Chicago State and UIC.

The Blue Demons are 15-0 against Chicago State all-time and will meet Syracuse for the first time since beating the Orange 3-1 on Sept. 29, 2012 – the last meeting between the two schools as BIG EAST foes. Against the Flames, DePaul won for the first time since 2003 last season, snapping an eight-match losing streak in the series and getting 22 kills from then-senior Vesela Zapryanova in a dominating 3-0 performance. At the time, the victory was the 13th in a row for DePaul and gave the team its second-longest winning streak in program history.

The following week will bring a trip to the Evansville Invitational, where DePaul will see teams from IUPUI and Central Michigan in addition to the hosting Purple Aces.

IUPUI is coming off regular season and conference titles in the Summit League and made the first NCAA Appearance in program history in 2013, losing 3-0 to No. 4 Missouri on Dec. 6, 2013. The Jaguars welcome back two-time all-league performer Kaitlyn Hickey as they look to win a third straight Summit League regular season title.

Perhaps the steepest challenge of the preseason will come the weekend of September 19-20 when DePaul heads to the Penn State Alumni Classic to square off against the Nittany Lions, as well as Eastern Illinois and East Carolina.

The Blue Demons will face Penn State, Edwards’ alma mater, for the second time in her tenure. The last meeting resulted in a 3-0 loss on Sept. 8, 2012 at the Chicago Classic at Mother McAuley High School. DePaul defeated Eastern Illinois last season at the Drake Invitational and leads the all-time series against ECU 5-1 – the last meeting came in 2004, a 3-2 win for the Pirates.

Following the trip to University Park, Pa., the 2014 BIG EAST schedule kicks off on the road with an east coast swing at St. John’s and Providence. The Friars rejoin the BIG EAST in 2014, where they had competed from 1977-2001, after spending four seasons as an associate member of the America East Conference.

"I’m excited about the BIG EAST," said Edwards. "Last season, Butler, Xavier and Creighton proved to be great additions to the conference in terms of balancing out our competition and elevating the level we play at. With the addition of Providence, I think it’s going to be exciting to see another different program, as well as a new coaching staff. I think we’re all going to be very competitive and it’ll be interesting to see."

DePaul’s conference home opener comes on Friday, October 3 at 7 p.m. against Creighton, a team that swept the Blue Demons in two meetings last season before going on to finish second in the BIG EAST and advancing to the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

The Blue Demons see Georgetown at home the next day before returning to the road to face Butler in a midweek showdown on Wednesday, Oct. 8.

After hosting long-time rival Marquette on Saturday, Oct. 11, and looking for revenge after last season’s heartbreaking 3-2 loss in Chicago, the Blue Demons travel to Xavier for a Tuesday night road match on Oct.14.

Seton Hall and Villanova both come to town the following weekend, Oct. 17-18, for a pair of conference matches.

On Friday, Oct. 24, the Blue Demons will be gunning for a second-straight road win at Georgetown before travelling all the way back to the Midwest to face Creighton in Omaha, Neb. that Sunday.

The longest home stretch of the season follows with the team welcoming Xavier, Butler, Providence and St. John’s to McGrath-Phillips Arena from Oct. 31 to Nov. 8.

The Blue Demons wrap up the regular season on the road, traveling to Villanova, Seton Hall and finishing up in Milwaukee against Marquette on Nov. 22 at 6 p.m.

The 2014 BIG EAST Conference Tournament is set for Nov. 28-29 with its location to be determined. The top teams from the regular season conference standing will earn spots in the tourney to fight for the BIG EAST’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which begins on Dec.  5 at campus sites nationwide.