DePaul Volleyball To Play Three In Local Tourney
CHICAGO - DePaul volleyball will stay close to home this weekend, meeting some stiff competition at the annual Chicago Classic on Saturday, Sept. 8 and Sunday, Sept. 9. This year's tournament will be hosted by Mother McAuley High School in Evergreen Park, Ill. and will feature No. 2 Penn State, Oregon State and local rival UIC.
DePaul will kick off the tournament in its first-ever meeting with Penn State at 10:00 a.m. and faces UIC in a nightcap at 5:00 p.m. On Sunday, the Blue Demons will take on Oregon State for the second consecutive season at 11:00 a.m.
The Blue Demons are coming off a 2-1 performance last week at the First State Skyhawk Invitational, where DePaul downed Wright State and hosting UT Martin to help even its season record at 3-3.
Junior Vesela Zapryanova had a big weekend and has emerged as one of the Blue Demons' top offensive options. The transfer from Auburn posted career-highs of 20 kills and 19 digs in a 3-2 win over UT Martin on Saturday night and leads the team with 83 kills on the season. She was nominated to the Skyhawk Invitational All-Tournament team alongside Allyson Rooks for her efforts.
Freshman Callie Huebener has also begun her first season in Chicago with a bang, currently ranking second on the team with 74 kills and 74 digs. The outside hitter also set career-highs last Saturday with 19 kills against the Skyhawks and 15 digs in both Saturday matches.
It will be a reunion tournament of sorts, as Blue Demon head coach Nadia Edwards spent her collegiate career playing for legendary Penn State head coach Russ Rose. Edwards was a standout on the 1999 PSU NCAA Championship team and her former teammate, Katie Schumacher-Cawley, is now at the helm of the UIC program.
Scouting the Nittany Lions
The Nittany Lions have won three-of-four matches by way of the sweep and are 5-0 overall, dropping just two sets this year to No. 9 Stanford. PSU comes into the tournament fresh off a 3-0 win against then-No. 2 Texas at the Nike Big Four Tournament in University Park, Pa.
Penn State is led by a pair of junior All-Americans in Deja McClendon and Ariel Scott, who have each amassed over 150 attempts on the season. Scott leads PSU with 72 kills on the season, while McClendon runs second with 52. Sophomore Micha Hancock, last year's Big Ten Freshman of the Year, runs the offense and has 186 assists to go along with a big serve (14 aces). It will be the first meeting between the two schools.
Scouting the Beavers
The Beavers enter the tourney with a 4-2 overall record and are on a two-match winning streak after suffering back-to-back losses to Miami and then-No. 22 Kansas State.
Senior Camille Sexton leads OSU with 91 kills on 309 attempts - the most on the team by 170 - while Tayla Woods directs the attack (187 assists). Becky Defoe paces the defense with 133 digs on the year after setting a school-record with 555 in 2011. Also a tough team at the net, Oregon State has out-blocked opponents 68-48. The two sides will be meeting for just the second time, as DePaul dropped a 3-0 decision in last year's opener in Laramie, Wyo.
Scouting the Flames
UIC is 3-4 in 2012, but has recovered nicely after beginning the year with four straight losses. The Flames have won 9-of-10 sets over a three match win streak.
Leading the offense has been a pair of senior outside hitters, Aubrey Sniegowski (79 kills, .274) and Kelsey Safranek (78 kills, .187). Junior setter MaryKate Imrie has logged extensive time at setter and leads the Flames with 261 assists. On the defensive side, RS sophomore Maggie Strus has 114 digs. DePaul has faced the Flames the most of any of its weekend opponents and will be looking to turn the tide against its local rival. UIC has won eight straight in the series and holds a 21-15 advantage all-time.