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Volleyball's BIG EAST Road Swing Continues at Creighton
Colleen Smith ranks first in the BIG EAST in assists per set (12.00) during conference play.


Colleen Smith ranks first in the BIG EAST in assists per set (12.00) during conference play.

Oct. 10, 2013

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CHICAGO – Coming off a road sweep at Georgetown in their last outing, the Blue Demon volleyball team heads to Omaha, Neb. to face Creighton as conference rivals for the first time Friday evening.

First serve is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CT.

DePaul enters the match 14-2 and 1-2 in BIG EAST play, while the Bluejays sit at 10-4 and 1-1 in the conference. Creighton is currently receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 poll after being ranked for all of the non-conference portion of its schedule.

It will be the first meeting between the two schools since 2001 and DePaul will come in riding a hot streak – the Blue Demons have jumped out to the best start in program history and have won 16-of-18 matches dating back to 2012.

After last weekend’s road action, sophomore right side Abbie Fleener was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for the first time in her career after hitting .450 during a 1-1 weekend. The Blue Demons have now picked up a weekly honor from the conference in each of the season’s six weeks.

Following the trip to Omaha, Neb., the Blue Demons return home for a midweek non-conference matchup against Green Bay on Wednesday, Oct. 15. Match time is set for 6 p.m. CT inside McGrath-Phillips Arena.

Series History
DePaul leads the all-time series 1-0, but the two teams have not met since Aug. 31, 2001 – a season-opening 3-0 sweep in a neutral floor meeting at the Northern Illinois Invitational.

Scouting The Bluejays
Creighton is 10-4 overall (1-1 BIG EAST) with wins against five 2012 NCAA Tournament teams, includ¬ing then-No. 13 BYU, Bowling Green, Northern Colorado, Kansas and Wichita State.

Coming off a four-set win at Xavier, their first BIG EAST win in program history, the Bluejays also dropped a 3-1 result at Butler last weekend. Hitting .226 as a team, CU ranks atop the BIG EAST and fourth in the NCAA in blocks (2.94 per set).

Junior MB Kelli Browning leads the charge with 76 total blocks (1.43 per set), numbers which place her eighth nationally and first in the BIG EAST. Freshman Lauren Smith has also been a standout, ranking second in the BIG EAST and 52nd in the NCAA in hitting percentage (.376).

A year ago, CU went 29-4, won the MVC and finished 24th in the AVCA year-end poll. They are currently receiving votes after being ranked in the Top 25 for much of the preseason.

Efficiency Matters
One of the most efficient teams in the country, DePaul currently sports a .295 hitting percentage through 16 matches – a number ranking first in the BIG EAST Conference and 10th nationally.

In their last outing, a 3-0 win at Georgetown, the Blue Demons hit .330 – their highest hitting percentage against a BIG EAST opponent since connecting at a .353 clip on Nov. 16, 2008 (a 3-1 home win versus St. John’s).

DePaul has hit at least .310 in 10-of-16 matches after cracking .300 just four times last season.

Conference Recognition
The Blue Demons have received a weekly award from the BIG EAST Conference in each of the season’s first six weeks.

On Sept. 9, senior Vesela Zapryanova made pro¬gram 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.

Fleener grabbed the Blue Demons’ most recent award on Monday, Oct. 7 when she was named to the weekly honor roll, becoming the fourth DePaul volleyball player to earn the recognition in 2013.

Busting Out The Brooms
The Blue Demons have won 10 matches by a 3-0 score so far during the 2013 season, already its most since sweeping 10 matches during the 2000 season.

Its latest sweep, a 3-0 win at Georgetown, was the first BIG EAST sweep since Oct. 28, 2011 at St. John’s and just the sixth since the program joined the conference in 2005.

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 and total sweeps was set in 1991 when the Blue Demons won five sweeps in a row from Nov. 8-Nov. 16 and 22 overall.

Getting Off On The Good Foot
DePaul opened the season 13-0, which established a new program record for consecutive wins to start a season. The old mark was set in 2001 when the Blue Demons kicked off the year with nine straight victories from Aug. 31-Sept. 22. 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.

Super ‘Nova
Senior outside hitter Vesela Zapryanova continued to make DePaul volleyball history on Monday, Sept. 9 when she was named the program’s first-ever BIG EAST Player of the Week.

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 a Sept. 25 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 confer¬ence in kills (3.82 per set) and aces (0.38 per set), as well as fourth in points (4.48 per set).

In The Rankings
Nationally, the Blue Demons rank 10th in hitting percentage, 11th in assists per set, 19th in kills per set and 27th in aces per set... DePaul is tops in the BIG EAST in three categories: hitting percentage (.296), assists (13.64) and service aces (1.62)... The Blue Demons also rank second in kills (14.43 per set) and third in opponent hitting percentage (.174)... Colleen Smith ranks second in the BIG EAST in assists per set (11.04)... In the conference, Natalie Rizzo ranks fourth (.365), Randi Leath ranks fifth (.353) and Abbie Fleener ranks 10th (.318) in hitting percentage...