DePaul Volleyball Picked Fourth In Conference; Bishop Named Preseason All C-USA
Chicago-- Last season marked a year of numerous firsts for the DePaul women's volleyball squad. It included the most wins since 1993, the program's first victory in the Conference USA tournament and the first player named to the league's first team.
This year, for the first time, the Blue Demons have been predicted to finish in the upper third of C-USA in a vote taken by league coaches. Building from last season's run to the semifinals of the conference tourney and the fact five starters return for this season, DePaul was selected to finish fourth in the C-USA preseason coaches poll. The projection marked the fourth consecutive year the program was picked higher than it had been the year before.
The improvement is a testament to the progress head coach Dawn Dockstader has made in her three years at the helm. Each year she has been at DePaul her teams have increased their win total and finish in conference compared to the previous season.
"I don't place much emphasis on preseason polls, but I would have been disappointed if we were picked lower than fourth considering we were fourth last year," said Dockstader. "Sure you're going to say 'well, we've got everybody back so we should be really good,' and that's true, but I always tell my team 'you're only as good as your last match' and we lost that one."
The season ending loss for the team came against Cincinnati in the semifinals of the C-USA tournament. It was a match the Blue Demons led two games to none at one point and held a 12-9 lead in the fourth game.
"We were three points away from getting in the finals and that's something that has stuck with our team ever since the season ended. Back in the spring we started doing an extra set of three for each drill or conditioning run to remind us about those three points," said Dockstader.
In addition to the team recognition, junior Stephanie Bishop was honored as a preseason all conference selection. In 1999, Bishop became the first Blue Demon volleyball player to be named to the C-USA first team.
"Stephanie's spot was well deserved. She was on the all freshman team, and last year she was first team and was AVCA National Player of the Week and conference player of the week, so she definitely earned her spot," said Dockstader.
With five returning starters and several other key reserves back, Dockstader has high expectations for the Blue Demons. Her drive may only be outweighed by that of the team itself. DePaul has placed an inordinate amount of time conditioning and in the weight room throughout the offseason and Dockstader anticipates that work will pay off when the season finally begins Sept. 1.