DePaul Volleyball Dominates in Season Opener
ORLANDO, Fla. - The DePaul volleyball got things started off right, winning its first match of the season 3-1 (23-25, 25-16, 25-16, 25-20) over Florida Atlantic marking the first time in five years the Blue Demons have walked away with the "W" in the season opener. DePaul extends its all-time series against the Owls to 3-0.
Senior outside hitter Sarah Cullen paved the way for the Blue Demons, registering a .421 attack percentage (20-4-38), while junior middle blocker Kate Letcher chipped in 14 kills. Freshman Sammy Geiger managed the offense with 41 assists.
Defense was key to the DePaul's victory today, out-blocking FAU 20-16. Sophomore Lauren Blasi and newcomer Rachel Aumann denied attackers repeatedly and each recorded six block assists. In the back court, freshman Chelsea Thurlby made 19 digs, while Cullen added 13 of her own. With the 20 kills and 13 digs, she tallied her 28th double-double her of career as a Blue Demon.
"We've stressed defense all preseason," commented head coach Amy Hardison, "When you play tenacious defense, you create better offensive opportunities. I think we did well with that here tonight."
As a team, DePaul hit an impressive .280 clip (58-23-125) compared to Florida Atlantic's .142 (35-19-113).
Service errors plagued the first game, as the Blue Demons committed five in the opening stanza. The Owls led by as much as five points, before DePaul slowly tried to claw its way back Strong service from Geiger brought the score to 23-23 forcing an Owl time out. Krystena Castro put FAU up 1-0 after she put the ball away for the 25th point. Cullen led the offensive effort for DePaul, with five kills.
After the minor stumble, the Blue Demons regrouped and quickly jumped out to a 3-1 lead behind kills from Cullen and Letcher. Both teams continued to trade points until DePaul went on a 3-0 run to lead 20-15. Following an FAU time out, the Owls were only allowed a single point as freshman Chandler Carney put the final ball away. The Blue Demons hit an outstanding .640 (18-2-25) attack percentage while Cullen was a perfect six-for-six. Letcher added six put aways of her own.
DePaul continued to cruise in the third stanza, fueled by three-straight service aces by Carney to put the Blue Demons up 4-1. Anne Vaughan was able to get Florida Atlantic within two following a kill, but DePaul responded with back-to-back kills from Letcher and freshman Rachel Aumann. Cullen hit the final ball to the floor, adding four kills in the third.
With the Blue Demons up 2-1, the Owls came out of the break with intensity and took the lead for the first time since the opening game. DePaul closed the 1-3 gap quickly, however, and scored five unanswered points to take a 6-3 advantage. Timely blocks were the difference maker in the fourth, with Aumann recording three block assists, while collectively the Blue Demons rejected the ball five times. Geiger terminated the final ball, winning the final game 25-20.
Anne Vaughan led FAU with nine kills and Christina Wallinger tallied 14 digs.
The Blue Demons return to the court tomorrow at 8 a.m. (CST) to face North Florida followed by a 6:30 p.m. showdown with UCF.
Notes: DePaul is 15-13 all-time in season openers... Cullen brings her career double-double total to 28 today following 20 kills and 13 digs in today's effort... DePaul leads the all-time series against Florida Atlantic, 3-0... dating back to last season, the Blue Demons are on a two matching winning streak.