DePaul Heartbroken in Season Opener
CHICAGO With a raucous crowd on hand at the Gentile Center, Loyola-Chicago fought its way to a 3-2 (23-25, 25-16, 18-25, 25-23, 15-13) win over DePaul, Friday at the Chicagoland Classic. The match was the season opener for both teams.
The Blue Demons fall into the consolation match and play UIC on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Tournament host Loyola plays Northwestern for the title at 7 p.m.
Big swings and long rallies highlighted the match that was tied 25 times. Loyola (1-0) won the attack battle finishing with a .232 percentage and 57 kills. The Blue Demons (0-1) were not far behind as they hit .190 with 56 kills. Loyola’s Dana VanDiggelen led all players with 25 kills for a .375 hitting percentage. Sarah Cullen led DePaul’s assault with 15 kills and added 11 digs. Blue Demon middle blocker Jacie Fiedler tacked on 12 kills for a team and match-high .379 percentage.
The first set was back and forth until Fiedler caught fire. Down 10-9, Fiedler, who finished the set with a six kills, put some heat on the ball and tied the frame at 10 and again at 11 with electrifying kills. Knotted at 11, Fiedler then went to the service line and gave DePaul its second lead of the set with an ace.
With momentum on their side, the Blue Demons never relinquished the lead and continued to terminate the ball well and kept the Ramblers on their heels. Loyola would post a comeback, but Kate Letcher would end the set with a kill to the backcourt. DePaul won the first set 25-23.
Loyola went to work in the second set and took advantage of poor Blue Demon hitting. The Ramblers finished the set with 14 kills and a .324 attack percentage, while DePaul hit a just .069. VanDiggelen led all players and matched DePaul’s output with seven kills. The Ramblers won set number two 25-16.
The Blue Demons and Ramblers traded points as long rallies highlighted the third set. Tied at nine, Cullen terminated a ball down the line to give DePaul the lead for good in the set. Following the Cullen’s kill at 10-9, the Blue Demons used a 10-6 run to put the set out of reach. The Blue Demons hit the ball much better in the third set as they tallied 11 kills to Loyola’s seven. Cullen led all players with four kills.
DePaul settled into its rhythm in the fourth set. Trailing 4-2 the squad took advantage of Caitlin Callaghan’s kill and pair of Loyola errors to jump to a 5-4 lead. The Blue Demons continued to find the wood as they raced out to a 13-7 advantage, but it would be short lived as they stalled at 14 and allowed the Ramblers to tie the set.
The two teams again traded points and Loyola took a three point lead at the 21-18 mark to force a DePaul timeout. Following the break, the Blue Demons dug deep and followed their senior Callaghan, who would tie the set at 23 on a kill down the line. Loyola would score the next two points and force a fifth set.
Service errors kept both teams in the fifth set. DePaul took a 6-5 lead, but three consecutive service errors would knot the set at seven. Following a long rally Callaghan’s hard hit ball was called just out of bounds to give the Ramblers an 8-7 advantage. Loyola would go up 14-11, but the Blue Demons benefited from two unforced errors to stay in the match. The Ramblers took the set and match on a DePaul attack error.
The Blue Demons made themselves big at the net as they out blocked Loyola 6-4. Callaghan and Letcher led DePaul’s effort with four block assists apiece. Libero Katherine Knutson registered a team-high 16 digs for DePaul while Callaghan chipped in an additional 10.