Volleyball Splits First Matches of Season
Indianapolis-Playing in their first matches of the season, the DePaul Blue Demons lost their season opener to Evansville (7-15, 15-5, 5-15, 15-9, 8-15) before rebounding with a quick three game sweep over Valparaiso (15-5, 15-6, 15-4) in the Butler Invitational.
The Evansville match was marred by inconsistent play by both teams throughout. In any of the winning games, the team who prevailed dominated the game and controlled nearly every point. Conversely, the losing squads failed to help their own causes by committing countless ball handling and hitting errors. In each game the team who won recorded a hitting percentage no less than .310, while in games lost, DePaul and Evansville combined to hit just .154.
Both teams definitely had a case of the first game jitters," said assistant coach Julie Wiejak. "This was the first game for both teams and it was a mental roller coaster."
Aiding Evansville's attack throughout the matches was the fact they continued to stifle the Blue Demons at the net. The Purple Aces amassed 19.5 blocks over the course of the match in addition to altering numerous other attack attempts.
Katie Engel led DePaul with 25 kills and 12 digs while Kara Jakusz added 47 assists.
"I was impressed with Katie offensively and defensively. That was her first full time action as a Blue Demon and she was unstoppable," said head coach Dawn Dockstader.
Match two acted as a double header for the team as they were scheduled to play back-to-back games in the tournament. Because of the length of the Evansville match, the squad had just 15 minutes to relax and recoup before taking on Valparaiso.
Coming out of the short break, the Blue Demons showed more of what they're capable of producing on a regular basis by earning the sweep against Valpo.
"We refocused in all areas of the game, especially defense. Because of that we were able to run our offense better against Valpo," said Engel.
While the stat sheet was slightly better in the second match, the team's ability to regroup and focus and have the bench players fill their roles impressed the coaches most.
"I was pleased with the contributions we received from the girls coming off the bench; especially, [Melissa] Murphy, [Lara] Marks and Lauren [Johnson]," said Dockstader.
Engel tied for the team high in kills with Christa Dirr and Meg Griffin as the trio recorded eight apiece. Stephanie Bishop solidified the defense with 10 digs and 2 block assists, while Jakusz added 25 assists running the offense.