Program Best Start Within Reach for Blue Demons
Sept. 19, 2013
CHICAGO – Sitting at 9-0, the DePaul volleyball team has tied its best start since 2001 and will now have a chance to break the program record this weekend when the group heads to Edwardsville, Ill. for the SIUE Cougar Invitational.
Facing Georgia State, Arkansas Pine-Bluff and the hosting Cougars, DePaul will be aiming for the first 10-0 start in program history after winning the DePaul, Drake and Citadel Invitationals to start the year.
DePaul meets SIUE on Friday in a primetime matchup at 7:00 p.m., going for the program record against the Cougars before returning to the court for a doubleheader on Saturday. The Blue Demons will take on Georgia State in the tournament’s morning session, kicking off the day at 10:00 a.m., before wrapping up their weekend against Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 4:30 p.m.
Both Abbie Fleener and Natalie Rizzo were named all-tournament during the Blue Demons’ most recent trip to The Citadel. After the weekend, Rizzo picked up her first-ever BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll nod after hitting .367 and landing a career-high 17 kills in the Radford win – the award marked the third straight week DePaul has been recognized with a BIG EAST weekly honor.
Scouting The Opposition
Hitting .133 as a team, the Cougars are led by a quartet of attackers with 80+ kills. Senior Cori Harris leads that group with 96 kills from the outside, while classmate Kelsey Augustine has added 92 from the middle and leads the team in attack percentage (.244).
Georgia State, owners of a 4-7 record, have lost three consecutive matches entering the weekend. Sophomore Dede Bohannon leads the offense with 118 kills (2.88 per set), while senior libero Emily Averbeck has recorded an impressive 4.29 digs per set to pace the defense.
UAPB is 4-13 on the season, but coming off a 3-0 home sweep of Mississippi Valley State on Monday night. Ashlie Jones (97 kills) and Ayanna Parker (88 kills) pace the offense for the Lady Lions.
Enter The Rizzone
Against Radford, she had her best performance of the season thus far, exploding for a career-best 17 kills on a .382 attack percentage (17-4-34).
Currently ranked second in the BIG EAST – and 46th nationally – in hitting percentage (.401), the Lombard, Ill. native also checks in at fourth in the conference in blocks (1.13 per set).
Witt’s Historic Triple-Double
Janet Goreham put together the Blue Demons’ last triple-double on Nov. 6, 2004 in a 3-2 win versus Tulane, recording 17 kills, 13 digs and 10 block assists. Since 2000, only one other DePaul student-athlete has matched the feat – Kara Jakusz on Sept. 22, 2000 in a 3-0 sweep of UAB (10 kills, 15 digs, 39 assists).
Getting Off On The Good Foot
Overall, with 11 straight wins going back to last season, the Blue Demons can also snag the second-longest winning streak in program history with a win in their next match. The team is currently tied with the 1991 squad, which ran off 11 straight wins from Oct. 2-Oct. 26.
Charla Drabant, a Freshman of the Week selection in 2007, was the only previous DePaul student-athlete to be awarded a BIG EAST weekly honor.
Adding to her trophy case prior to the year, Zapryanova also laid claim to the honor of being the first preseason All-BIG EAST selection in program history.
After her first weekend of action, the Sofia, Bulgaria-native was honored with her third career BIG EAST Honor Roll nomination on Monday, Sept. 2.
In the championship match of the Drake Invitational, she recorded a career-best .652 hitting percentage with a season-high 17 kills. In the weekend’s opening contest against Drake, Zapryanova’s defensive prowess was on display as she posted a career-high 26 digs.
She is currently third in the conference in kills (3.53 per set) and aces (0.44 per set).
Smith’s Impressive Opening Weekend
With Smith running the offense, DePaul hit .350 overall in three matches as the sophomore racked up 11.12 assists per set. Against McNeese State, the Blue Demons put up their best hitting percentage since Oct. 25, 2011 with a .380 mark.
The production has continued, as DePaul currently sports a .292 hitting percentage through nine matches – a number that ranks first in the BIG EAST Conference.
DePaul has hit at least .311 in six-of-nine matches after cracking .300 just four times last season.