DePaul Hosts Green Bay Tuesday in Final Non-Conference Match
Oct. 14, 2013
CHICAGO - DePaul volleyball returns home for the first time since late September on Tuesday, hosting Green Bay in its final non-conference match of the season.
First serve is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CT inside McGrath-Phillips Arena.
Sitting at 14-3 and 1-3 in BIG EAST play, the Blue Demons will be looking to get back on track after starting the year a perfect 13-0 against non-league competition.
After a blistering start, the Blue Demons have dropped three-of-four against some strong competition -- including a 3-1 decision on Friday against Creighton, a preseason Top 25 team and the 2013 BIG EAST favorite.
Since the beginning of conference play, DePaul has been riding the hot hand of sophomore right side Abbie Fleener who leads the team with 3.53 kills per set in league play. The Grand Rapids, Mich. native also has a team-high 53 total kills in her past four matches.
As a unit the Blue Demons hit a season-low .093 on Friday, but still lead the BIG EAST Conference and rank 12th nationally with a team percentage of .282.
After Tuesday night's match, DePaul doesn't get the luxury of staying home for long, however, getting right back into BIG EAST play this weekend at Marquette.
The rematch is set for a 7:00 p.m. CT on Saturday in Milwaukee, Wisc.
Last season the Blue Demons went up 2-0 on the Phoenix before falling in a 3-2 heartbreaker. Then-senior Rachel Aumann had a career-high 20 kills in the match.
Scouting The Phoenix
Hitting .204 as a team, Green Bay has three offensive options averaging 3.00 kills per set or better. Senior Leah Van Zeeland leads the group with 189 total kills, while freshman Shannon Hurley is just behind at 182.
Setter Emily Riese leads the Horizon League with averages 10.52 assists per set, while Jillian Bauer, an Ohio State transfer, is tops in the conference and ranks 41st in the NCAA at 4.86 digs per set.
Rooks Moves Toward 1,000-Dig Club
The last Blue Demon to reach the plateau was Sarah Cullen, who finished her career with 1,151 digs in 2009.
In their last road 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-17 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.
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 student-athlete to earn the recognition in 2013.
Busting Out The Brooms
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
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.
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 conference in kills (3.82 per set) and aces (0.38 per set), as well as fourth in points (4.48 per set).