DePaul Volleyball Hits Road for First BIG EAST Weekend
Sept. 20, 2012
The Blue Demons meet Louisville on Friday, September 21 at 7:00 p.m. and will head to Cincinnati following the match to take on the Bearcats on Sunday, Sept. 23 at 1:00 p.m.
The Blue Demons have competed on mostly neutral courts in 2012, where they are 4-3 thus far, and are 0-2 in true road matches. Coming off a 2-1 weekend, the Blue Demons are 5-7 overall on the fall and are just two wins away from matching their entire 2011 win total. That trend of overall improvement has carried over to BIG EAST play under third-year head coach Nadia Edwards (one win in 2010, three wins in 2011).
Scouting the Cardinals
The Cardinals are in the midst of a nine-match winning streak and have ascended to No. 10 in the AVCA Top 25 Poll. It's the highest Louisville has been ranked since the 2005 season when the team reached as high as sixth overall in the polls. Now 11-1, the Cards are off to their best start since that `05 season -- when they won 20 consecutive matches to begin the year.
Louisville has three ranked wins to its credit, and its only loss came at the hands of then-No. 3 Penn State. The Cardinals were beaten 3-0 by the Nittany Lions in front of a school-record crowd of 4,000+.
Senior Lola Arslanbekova, the preseason BIG EAST player of the year, is the Cardinals' heavy hitter. Already a two-time BIG EAST Player of the Week this season, the outside hitter leads U of L with 205 kills and is second on the team with 153 digs. Louisville has used three different setters this fall, but Hannah Kvitle leads the way with 289 assists. Caitlin Welch paces the defense with 218 digs.
DePaul is 2-22 all-time against Louisville and will be looking to snap a 10 match losing streak versus the Cards.
Scouting the Bearcats
2-10 overall is about as misleading of a record as there might be in the country. Cincinnati, the defending BIG EAST Champions, comes into the weekend having played one of the toughest schedules in the country. Seven of UC's 10 losses have come to teams ranked in the AVCA Top 25.
Senior Jordanne Scott is UC's primary offensive weapon, and she leads the team with 180 kills. Senior Rachel Rohlfs directs the offense and has 387 assists to her credit. Junior libero Emily MacIntyre paces the defense, and is coming off a school-record 38 dig performance vs. No. 23 Illinois in the Bearcats' last match.
DePaul trails UC 15-28 in the all-time series. The last meeting was a 3-0 Bearcat victory on Oct. 2, 2011 at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
Two newcomers, junior transfer Vesela Zapryanova and freshman Callie Huebener, have combined for seven kill-dig double-doubles in the Blue Demons' six matches. Huebener has recorded four already this season, while Zapryanova has three.
This past weekend, at the Loyola Rambler Challenge, setter Laura Witt posted the first two assist-dig double-doubles of her Blue Demon career.
By comparison, in 2011, the Blue Demons recorded six double-doubles all season. Senior Lauren Blasi led the Blue Demons with two kill-dig double-doubles (setter Katie Gamsky had four assist-dig double-doubles).
Junior transfer Vesela Zapryanova has made an instant impact for DePaul, playing at outside hitter and contributing on both the defensive and offensive sides of the net.
On Monday, Zapryanova was named to the weekly BIG EAST Honor Roll for her performance at the Loyola Rambler Challenge. At the two-day tourney, Zapryanova led the Blue Demons to a pair of sweeps and paced the offense with 3.70 kills per set. It was the first BIG EAST weekly award for DePaul volleyball since Sarah Cullen was selected to the honor roll on October 13, 2008.
She leads the team in kills (156), kills per set (3.32) and total attempts (456). The Sofia, Bulgaria-native also ranks second on the team in aces (13) and is third in digs (111).
Zapryanova has also been named to All-Tournament teams in each of the past three weekends (First State Skyhawk Invitational, Chicago Classic, Loyola Rambler Challenge).