C-USA Volleyball Showdown With Cincinnati And Louisville This Weekend
Chicago-Riding a confidence high built by the team's best 15 match start in the history of the program and the best conference start since 1993, the DePaul volleyball team will face Cincinnati and Louisville this Friday and Saturday, September 29 and 30.
"I'm very pleased with what we've done so far," said Dockstader. "I've been happy with how our offense is running. Kara [Jakusz] is setting at a really high level and has been distributing to everyone. Not only that, but the people getting the ball are doing something with it."
The success of the offense is seen in the conference statistical leaders where three players rank in the top ten in hitting percentage and two qualified for the kills per game list. Meanwhile, Jakusz leads the conference in assists and is ranked 10th in the nation with 13.91 assists per game.
Defensively, Dockstader feels the team has improved as well. "We were a good defensive team last year, but we're a little better now because we're reading our blocks and our back row is playing with our front row much better," she said. "I think as a whole, we're better now than we were at the end of last year."
DePaul (12-3, 3-0 Conference USA) faces its first major test of the conference season with back-to-back matches against perennial conference powers, Cincinnati (10-4, 3-0 C-USA) and Louisville (7-5, 1-2 C-USA). The matches may serve as a determinant to how the American Division shakes out over the first half of the conference slate.
Cincinnati faces the Blue Demons Friday at 7 p.m., while Louisville will be at Marquette. Saturday, the schools trade opponents, with Cincinnati heading to Milwaukee and Louisville visiting DePaul for a 7 p.m. match.
Even with the improvement over last season, Dockstader admits this weekend's matches will be difficult and hard fought. "Cincinnati and Louisville are very strong teams that are talented and well coached," said Dockstader. "We respect the tradition they have built at their respective programs, and we've put ourselves in a position as a program that we look forward to the Cincinnati/Louisville weekend."
With DePaul and Cincinnati tied for the division lead, Friday's match will crown a distinct leader.for at least 24 hours. Louisville is fourth in the division behind Marquette and can draw even with a win over the Golden Eagles and may jump into a tie for second depending on what happens with the division leaders.
The conference ramifications aren't lost on Dockstader and the team. "Conference is what you play for. Preseason gives you a chance to iron out the kinks and develop a rotation, but the bulk of the schedule is the conference matches," said Dockstader. "I'm glad our conference is as strong as it is. Some teams play the toughest part of their schedule out of conference and I couldn't imagine that. It's nice that the majority of our most difficult matches are during conference because it adds that little extra incentive to play well."