Blue Demons Face First Conference Road Tests in Philly, D.C.
Oct. 3, 2013
CHICAGO - DePaul volleyball hits the East Coast this weekend for its first road conference competition, meeting Villanova and Georgetown and looking for a first BIG EAST win of the season.
The Blue Demons will be going for a second straight victory at Villanova on Friday in Philadelphia, Pa. before jetting down to the nation's capital to take on Georgetown in Washington D.C.
Both matches are scheduled for 6 p.m. CT starts.
Sitting at 13-1 (0-1 BIG EAST), the DePaul volleyball team has jumped out to the best start in program history and has won 15-of-16 matches dating back to 2012.
The Blue Demons kicked off their conference schedule on Saturday at home, falling to rival Marquette in a dramatic 3-2 match that featured some fantastic volleyball -- both teams hit .310 or better.
Colleen Smith had one of her best matches of the season in the setback, assisting on 63 kills -- the most for DePaul since Christy Landschoot put up 62 in a Nov. 1, 2008 match, also against Marquette.
Following the weekend, senior Vesela Zapryanova was named to the conference's weekly honor roll for the second time this season (and fourth time in her career). It marked the fifth time in five weeks DePaul has received a weekly award from the BIG EAST.
Villanova leads the all-time series 7-1, but the Blue Demons emerged victorious in the two schools' last meeting -- a 3-1 road win on Oct. 19, 2012, a match which saw Allyson Rooks dig a career-high 26 balls.
The Blue Demons trail the Hoyas 8-4 in the series and last won, 3-2, at McGrath-Phillips Arena on Sept. 25, 2011.
Scouting The Wildcats
Villanova enters Friday's match 9-5 and sporting a 5-0 record at home. Coming off a 3-1 win against Georgetown in their conference opener, the Wildcats are riding a five-match win streak overall.
The Wildcats are hitting .210 and rank second in the BIG EAST in aces per set (1.53). Sophomore Lauren Carpenter, a 6-2 outside hitter, leads the charge with 3.55 kills per set.
Sophomore setter Emma Pettit (10.60 assists per set) runs the offense, which features three options with 140 or more kills. Senior defensive specialist Mariah Henley is also tops in the conference in digs (5.20 per set) and third in aces (0.39 per set).
Scouting The Hoyas
Offensively, Lauren Saar paces the Hoyas and ranks ninth in the BIG EAST at 3.05 kills per set. Hitting .163 collectively, Georgetown has three offensive options with 144+ kills.
Libero MacKenzie Simpson is sixth in the conference in digs per set (3.88). As a team, Georgetown ranks first in the BIG EAST with 16.63 digs per set.
DePaul has hit at least .310 in nine-of-14 matches after cracking .300 just four times last season.
On Sept. 9, senior Vesela Zapryanova made program history by becoming the first DePaul volleyball student-athlete to be voted BIG EAST Player of the Week. Two weeks later, Abbie Fleener joined her by winning the award on Sept. 23.
The Blue Demons have also earned weekly honor roll recognition three times.
Busting Out The Brooms
DePaul won its first three matches of the year via the sweep, marking its first back-to-back-to-back sweeps since 2003 when the Blue Demons beat SE Missouri State, Drake and UIC from Sept. 13-Sept. 16.
The program record for consecutive 3-0 wins was set in 1991 when the Blue Demons won five sweeps in a row from Nov. 8-Nov. 16.
Getting Off On The Good Foot
Overall, the winning streak reached 15 (DePaul won its final two matches of the 2012 season) before DePaul's first loss on Sept. 28. The 15 straight wins represents the second-longest winning streak in program history, trailing only the 1978 team's 16-match stretch without a loss.
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.
The Sofia, Bulgaria-native has also been selected to the BIG EAST Honor Roll twice this season and four times in her two years in Lincoln Park.
In last Wednesday's road win at UIC, Zapryanova landed a career high-tying 22 kills in just three sets -- the most by a DePaul student-athlete in a three-setter since at least 2005 and the most by any BIG EAST player in 2013.
As of Tuesday, she was ranked fourth in the conference in kills (3.78 per set) and aces (0.38 per set), as well as fifth in points (4.46 per set).
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