DePaul Volleyball Travels to UT Martin for First State Skyhawk Invitational
Aug. 30, 2012
CHICAGO - The DePaul University volleyball team will play three matches over a two day span for the second straight week, as the Blue Demons (1-2) travel to Martin, Tenn. for the second annual First State Skyhawk Invitational.
Four teams make up the field, including the hosts, UT Martin, as well as Wright State and Troy. The tournament kicks off Friday, August 31 with DePaul facing Wright State at 5 p.m. The Blue Demons will also battle Troy at 11 a.m. and UT Martin at 7 p.m. to cap the tournament on Saturday, Sept. 1.
DePaul enters the field with a 1-2 overall record after hosting the DePaul Invitational last weekend at McGrath-Phillips Arena. The Blue Demons dropped their home opener to Eastern Illinois before splitting a pair of five-setters, beating Indiana State and falling to Butler, on Saturday, August 25.
"I think the group was anxious to play somebody other than themselves and I think they did a phenomenal job of reaching short-term, individual and team goals last weekend," said third-year head coach Nadia Edwards. "We have to continue being process-focused, and focus on starting off strong, finishing strong and playing together."
The Blue Demons were led offensively in the tournament by junior Vesela Zapryanova and freshman Callie Huebener, who each posted 38 kills (2.71 kills per set). Showcasing a balanced attack, five different Blue Demons recorded more than 20 kills over the weekend.
Both Natalie Rizzo and Rachel Aumann also put together efficient attacking weekends and currently rank in the top-10 in the BIG EAST in hitting percentage. Aumann, a senior middle blocker, recorded 26 kills against just nine errors (.340), while Rizzo, a junior outside hitter, put away 27 kills against only five mistakes (.361).
As a team, DePaul was solid at the net and out-blocked opponents 53-44. Freshman Tyler Graham also had a standout debut weekend, recording double-digit digs in all three matches and putting up a season-high 22 digs against Butler on Saturday.
Scouting the Trojans
Senior middle hitter Breanna Cullity leads the team with 24 kills and a .316 hitting percentage, while junior setter Alexandra Alexander runs the offense and has 44 assists through three matches.
Under seventh-year head coach Sonny Kirkpatrick, the Trojans are coming off their first winning season (16-15) since 2003. DePaul will be facing Troy for the first time in program history.
Scouting the Raiders
Wright State is coming off a 6-23 season and has three players with 25 or more kills. Junior outside hitter Heidi Splinter leads the team with 31 kills, and freshman middle blocker Marisa Aiello has posted 30 and has a .260 hitting percentage. Senior setter Ashleigh Lucco directs the offense and has registered 101 assists through the Raiders' first four matches.
Head coach Susan Clements is in her first season with the Raiders, coming to WSU from Niagara where she led the Purple Eagles to a 25-9 record in 2011 and three straight NCAA Tournament appearances. DePaul is 3-4 versus Wright State all-time, last facing the Raiders in a 3-0 defeat in 2010.
Scouting the Skyhawks
Senior outside hitter Kelly Hogan leads the team with 24 kills through three maches and UT Martin boasts five other student-athletes with double-digit kill totals. Two setters have split time running the offense, as freshman Amanda Crask (47 assists, 14 kills, .433 hitting percentage) and sophomore Brandy Dennis (36 assists) have competed for time. Crask also has a dangerous serve and has five aces in just three matches.
Head coach Darrin McClure is in his fifth season after directing the Skyhawks to one of their best seasons in a decade last year. The Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year, McClure led UT Martin to 19 wins and a berth in the OVC Championship match after being picked to finish 10th in the league's preseason poll. DePaul will be facing UT Martin for the first time in program history.