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DePaul Volleyball Continues BIG EAST Play Versus St. John's, UConn
Freshman Abbie Fleener was the star in last weekend's win over Syracuse, putting up a career-high 21 kills.


Freshman Abbie Fleener was the star in last weekend's win over Syracuse, putting up a career-high 21 kills.

Oct. 5, 2012

Saturday, October 6       Sunday, October 7
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St. John's Red Storm
Opponent Record: 16-3 (3-0 BIG EAST)
Venue: McGrath-Phillips Arena 
Location: Chicago
Time: 2:00 p.m. CST
All-time Series: St. John's leads, 6-2

LIVE STATS | VIDEO

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Connecticut Huskies
Opponent Record:11-7*
Venue: McGrath-Phillips Arena
Location: Chicago
When: 2:00 p.m. CST
All-time Series: Connecticut leads, 8-0

LIVE STATS | VIDEO

*denotes record as of October 5

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CHICAGO - DePaul volleyball will continue its six-match homestand with a pair of matches against BIG EAST Conference rivals as the Blue Demons welcome St. John's and Connecticut to McGrath-Phillips Arena.

Both matches are scheduled for 2:00 p.m. CT start times. DePaul faces the Red Storm first on Saturday, Oct. 6 before going against the Huskies on Sunday.

The Blue Demons are coming off their first BIG EAST win of the season last weekend, notching a 3-1 defeat of Syracuse behind a career-day from freshman Abbie Fleener. The outside hitter terminated 21 balls on a .450 hitting percentage -- both numbers were career-highs and the kill total was the most by any Blue Demon this season.

As a team, DePaul connected at a .302 clip and hit over .300 against a BIG EAST opponent for the first time since 2008. The team has also gotten at least one double-double performance in five of its past six matches.

Last Time Out
The DePaul volleyball team dropped a 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-23) BIG EAST Conference match to visiting Marquette on Sunday, September 30 at McGrath-Phillips Arena. The Golden Eagles improved to 12-3 and 3-0 in the conference.

Vesela Zapryanova paced the Blue Demon offense with 12 kills and has now reached double-digit kills in her last three matches. The junior outside hitter hit at a .310 (12-3-29) clip while the Blue Demons finished the match with a combined .220 (39-13-118) attack percentage. Natalie Rizzo and Laura Witt also finished with attack percentages over .300 for the match.

On the defensive end, Allyson Rooks led the Blue Demons for the 11th consecutive match with 14 digs. As DePaul's libero, Rooks has reached double-figure dig totals in her last 13 games straight.

Scouting the Red Storm
St. John's enters the weekend tied with Marquette for the top spot in the BIG EAST at 3-0. The Red Storm have won six straight overall, but will be playing just their third road match of the season (2-0 road record).

Four players have 100+ kills, but sophomore Aleksandra Wachowicz is St. John's main offensive option, leading the offense with 205 kills on 544 swings (.217 %). Freshman libero Shawna Lei-Santos leads the defense with 183 digs, while senior setter Sabina Piegza runs the show with 598 assists.

St. John's holds a 6-2 advantage in the all-time series.

Scouting the Huskies
Connecticut enters the weekend winners of 3-of-4 and will face Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon before making the short trip over from South Bend, Ind.

Sophomore outside Devon Maugle leads UConn with 176 kills and is one of three players with 100+ kills. Senior outside Mattison Quayle has been a reliable counterpart, also putting up 174 kills. Senior libero Kelsey Maving paces the defense with 329 digs, while freshman Marissa Prinzbach runs the offense and has recorded 392 assists.

UConn holds a 8-0 advantage in the all-time series.

Double-Double Trouble
Two newcomers, junior transfer Vesela Zapryanova (5) and freshman Callie Huebener (4), have combined for nine kill-dig double-doubles in the Blue Demons' 17 matches.

Sophomore setter Laura Witt has also recorded four assist-dig double-doubles since Sept. 14. Freshman Aubree Hord picked up her first career double-double (14 assists, 11 digs) at No. 10 Louisville on Friday, Sept. 21.

In the Demons' 17 matches, DePaul has gathered 14 double-doubles total and has at least one in 12 competitions -- including five of its past six.

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).

Super `Nova
Junior transfer Vesela Zapryanova has made an instant impact for DePaul. On Monday, Sept. 17, 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 (207), kills per set (3.14) and total attempts (631). The Sofia, Bulgaria-native is also tied for second on the team in aces (16) and is second in digs (158).

Zapryanova was named to All-Tournament teams over three straight weekends from Aug. 31-Sept. 15 (First State Skyhawk Invitational, Chicago Classic, Loyola Rambler Challenge).

New Faces From New Places
The DePaul roster underwent a major overhaul in the offseason as the Blue Demons brought in two transfers, Laura Witt (UTSA) and Vesela Zapryanova (Auburn) as well as five freshmen: Abbie Fleener, Callie Huebener, Tyler Graham, Aubree Hord and Randi Leath make up the 2012 first-year class.

Rise of Rizzo
After hitting .240 a season ago, Natalie Rizzo has been the most efficient of all DePaul attackers in 2012. The junior middle leads the team and ranks sixth in the BIG EAST with a .345 hitting percentage (119 kills, 30 errors, 258 attempts). The last DePaul offensive player to finish a season over .300 with at least 100 attempts was Jacie Fiedler in 2008 (.356). The Lombard, Ill.-native also ranks 10th in the conference in aces (0.30 per set, 20 total).

Rooks' Run
Since taking over at libero on September 1 versus Troy, junior Allyson Rooks has been a rock defensively for the Blue Demons. The Zeeland, Mich. native has reached double-digits in dig for the past 12 matches as a starter, and for the past 13 overall. She also set a career-high, getting under 21 balls in a 3-0 win against USC Upstate on September 14.

Team Notes
• DePaul is hitting .194 for the season. That figure is .031 better than a year ago and is the Blue Demons' best team percentage since at least 2005.
•The Blue Demons have six wins already in 2012 and with one more victory would tie their total from a year ago. An eighth win in 2012 would be the most for DePaul since 2004 when the team went 12-19 overall.

Notes from Syracuse Win
• The BIG EAST win was the first for DePaul since a 3-2 win on November 5, 2011 over Rutgers.
• The last time DePaul won a four-setter was September 17, 2010 over SIU-Edwardsville (25-18, 20-25, 25-19, 25-18).
• As a team, the Blue Demons hit .302 - the second time DePaul has broken the .300 mark in a match this season. DePaul hit over .300 just three times in all of 2011.
• It was the first time DePaul crested the .300 mark against a BIG EAST opponent since November 16, 2008 when the Blue Demons hit .353 in a 3-1 win over St. John's. DePaul set another team mark with nine service aces - the most by the Blue Demons in 2012.
Abbie Fleener had the most kills by a DePaul player since September 24, 2011 when current sophomore Amy Lanski put up 22 versus Villanova. The freshman outside hitter registered career-highs in kills, attempts (40), attack percentage (.450), service aces (4) and digs (2).
• The previous season-high for kills by a DePaul player was 20, a tally shared by Vesela Zapryanova and Rachel Aumann.
Genesis Reyes had a career-high five assists - previous best was three, the last time coming on October 30, 2011 against UConn.
Laura Witt had a career-high seven kills from the setter spot, surpassing her previous high of five which came Wednesday, Sept. 26 versus Green Bay.