Volleyball Looks To Build On Last Weekend's Success
Chicago--Travelling to Wisconsin-Breen Bay for the Amerihost Classic, the Blue Demons have their sights set on improving from their success at the Butler Invite Sept. 1-2. DePaul will face Tulsa, UWGB and Western Illinois in a round robin format Sept. 8-9.
DePaul opens with Tulsa on Friday at 5 p.m. and plays Wisconsin-GB at noon and Western Illinois at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Tulsa and DePaul sport the best records entering the invitational at 3-0 and 3-1 respectively; Western Illinois. is 2-2 and UWGB is 0-3.
Tulsa is in a similar situation that DePaul was a year ago in that their coach is entering his third season at the school and has improved the team's win total over each preceding season. The Golden Hurricane return five starters to this year's squad and are looking to improve on their seventh place finish in the WAC. Their leading offensive player is junior Kristien Van Lierop, who is averaging 6.11 kills per game and recorded 38 kills in a five game match against Moorehead St. last weekend.
Western Illinois took two of their three games at the Oregon State Showcase last weekend and lost to Bradley in four games this past Wednesday. The Westerwinds are led by Sallie Bowles (2.5 kpg), but are hitting just .114 as a team.
Green Bay is the only school DePaul faced last season and the Blue Demons took the match 3-0. The Phoenix are an extremely young squad with just one senior and one junior on the roster. The remainder of the team is comprised of six freshman and six sophomores. The youth movement is looking to jump start the program which went 4-27 a year ago.
Even though head coach Dawn Dockstader has studied this weekend's opponents, she admitted that because this is still preseason, she is less concerned with what other teams are doing and more on what her own team is doing to improve.
"I'm satisfied that we won last weekend and with how we played on Saturday, but I wasn't happy losing to Evansville and how we played Friday as a whole," said Dockstader. "One of the keys we feel we need to work on is our blocking and that is an issue we addressed all week in practice."
Dockstader felt the team wasn't being aggressive enough in their block attempts and that is something she stressed and will continue to have the Blue Demons work on during the year.
"I look at our blocking kind of the way our serving had been in the past. We were not a very good serving team the past three years, so we stressed its importance from the start of practice this year and that work has begun to pay off. We served better than we ever have last weekend and the team noticed what serving tough can do to help you out in other areas," said Dockstader.
The best example of the team's improvement serving was Melissa Nordine who is ranked ninth in Conference USA in service aces (0.53/game). "I don't think we've ever had a player ranked in conference for serving, and if we did it was just for one week," said Dockstader.
As far as the team's chances and expectations for the weekend Dockstader said, "If we play the way we're capable of, like the way we played last Saturday, then should do well this weekend."