Five Game Victory Gives Volleyball Sweep Of Season Series With Marquette
Milwaukee, Wis.-Two teams, four personalities. That was the overriding theme when DePaul and Marquette squared off in Milwaukee Saturday night, October 21. The Blue Demons claimed the match 5-15, 15-2, 15-17, 15-6, 15-12.
This marked the second time in as many years the two teams have played a five game match in Milwaukee. Marquette came away with the win last year after trailing two games to none. However, the roles were reversed this time, as DePaul was able to pull away late in game five and win 15-12. The teams tied five times over the first eight points, but when DePaul took a lead at 9-8 it was one it wouldn't relinquish. The season sweep and road victory were both firsts since head coach Dawn Dockstader assumed control of the program four years ago.
Marquette controlled and dominated early as the Golden Eagles cruised to a 15-5 win in game one of the Conference USA tilt. Marquette hit .378 in the game and forced the Blue Demons to work their points through blocks and solid defensive coverage. As a result, DePaul could only muster a .217 hitting percentage.
Stephanie Bishop was the only Blue Demon who appeared prepared to play from the outset. The junior outside hitter tallied seven kills in the game to rally the team, but struggles in all aspects of the team's play hampered it from mounting any sort of momentum.
"We told our kids as we were preparing for this match that Marquette would be a different team than the one we saw earlier in the year," said Dockstader. "Whether or not they took that to heart, I don't know, but Marquette proved they are much better than when we had seen them last."
According to Dockstader, the biggest difference for the Golden Eagles was that they had their starting setter, Liz Egasti, back from injury. Egasti saw very little action in the first meeting between the teams, but having her back made an impact for Marquette. "Getting their setter back made a big difference for them. They are a completely different team than the one we saw when she was hurt," said Dockstader.
While Marquette made game one look easy, DePaul returned the favor in game two. The Blue Demons won 15-2 and hit .400 in the game. They also limited the Golden Eagles to a .108 hitting percentage that was limited because of four solo blocks.
As games one and two lacked drama and heart by the losing teams, game three provided enough to supply the entire match. DePaul fell behind early and looked as though it would revert to the form displayed in game one.
Trailing 9-3 and 14-6 at points during the game, the Blue Demons roared back to take a 15-14 lead. In the process, they staved off seven game point services by Marquette that left the Golden Eagles searching for anyway possible to get a ball to drop. Despite the tremendous momentum swing earned by the Blue Demons, Marquette sapped the energy out of them by tying and taking a lead at 16-15. With DePaul on the defensive, Marquette put the game away and won 17-15.
A lesser team may have wilted after expending the energy needed to mount the comeback, but the Blue Demons persevered to claim game four 15-6 and force game five.
Meg Griffin led the team with 20 kills and hit .457 on the night. "Meg definitely gets the game ball tonight," said Dockstader. "She played well all night and really stepped up when we needed her."
The Blue Demon middles provided solid games as well. Christa Dirr picked up 10 kills and four total blocks, while Melissa Nordine added 16 kills, 15 digs and five total blocks. Kara Jakusz passed out 70 assists while running the offense. This was the fifth time this year she has accumulated at least 70 assists in a match.
The victory pushes the Blue Demons' record to 16-7 (7-3 C-USA) while Marquette falls to 5-17 (3-7 C-USA). The team's next game is on the road against University of Illinois-Chicago at 7 p.m. Tuesday.