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Volleyball Returns to Road Against Xavier and Butler
Senior Natalie Rizzo ranks second in the BIG EAST with a .355 hitting percentage entering the weekend.

Senior Natalie Rizzo ranks second in the BIG EAST with a .355 hitting percentage entering the weekend.

Oct. 30, 2013

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CHICAGO - DePaul volleyball looks to get back on track in conference play, heading to Xavier and Butler this weekend and squaring off with each as BIG EAST foes for the first time.

The Blue Demons will meet the Musketeers to begin the weekend on Friday, Nov. 1 at 6:00 p.m. CT before wrapping things up on Saturday, Nov. 2 at Butler. That match is also scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. CT.

Sitting at 15-7 and 1-7 in the BIG EAST, the DePaul volleyball team has lost seven of nine since entering conference play. The stretch, which includes a current season-high four losses in a row, has been particularly tough to stomach after the Blue Demons began the season with 13 straight wins.

Overall, the team has won 17 of its past 24 matches dating back to 2012.

After the weekend, DePaul will be back in Chicago to host St. John’s and Seton Hall from Nov. 8-10.

Series Histories
The Blue Demons trail Xavier 7-4 all-time and dropped the last meeting between the two programs, 3-0, on Sept. 12, 2009.

Against Butler, DePaul trails 8-7 in the series after dropping a five-setter at home to the Bulldogs on Aug. 25, 2012. Callie Huebener posted a double-double in that match, recording 14 kills and 12 digs.

Scouting the Musketeers
XU meets DePaul for the first time as a BIG EAST opponent in a tie for second-place in the conference. The Musketeers are 15-8 (6-2) and have won three straight matches. Both of the team’s BIG EAST losses have come against Creighton.

One of four Musketeers averaging two or more kills per set, senior OH Sarah Brown became the 11th player in XU history to post 1,000 kills and digs at Seton Hall on Saturday. Freshman Abbey Bessler has paced the offense, however, leading XU with 320 kills on the year. Senior middle blocker Alex Smith ranks first in the BIG EAST with a .402 hitting percentage and averages 2.68 kps.

As a team, Xavier leads the conference in kills (14.19 per set) and digs (17.75 per set).

Scouting The Bulldogs
Butler enters the weekend 18-5 and 5-3 in the BIG EAST and will be meeting DePaul as a conference opponent for the first time on Saturday. The team’s three conference losses have come against Xavier (twice) and Creighton.

BU has four offensive options with at least two kills per set, but does a lot of its damage at the net where reigning BIG EAST Player of the Week Erica Stahl ranks atop the conference and 14th in the NCAA with 1.43 blocks per set. Junior OH Belle Obert paces the team’s offense with 3.39 kills per set. Senior Maggie Harbison is also among the conference’s best servers, averaging 0.36 per set.

As a team, Butler sports the top block in the BIG EAST and ranks third in the NCAA (3.02 per set). The Bulldogs also rank atop the conference in opponent hitting percentage (.148).

Rooks Joins 1,000 Dig Club
With her fourth dig vs. Villanova, senior libero Allyson Rooks reached the 1,000-dig plateau for her career in the second set of Sunday’s match.

Prior to Rooks achieving the feat, the last Blue Demon to reach the milestone was Sarah Cullen, who finished her career with 1,151 digs in 2009.

The Zeeland, Mich.-native ranks seventh in the BIG EAST with 3.89 digs per set and has posted double-digit dig totals in each of her last six matches.

Efficiency Matters
One of the most efficient teams in the country, DePaul currently sports a .267 hitting percentage through 22 matches – a number ranking second in the BIG EAST Conference and 22nd nationally.

In a road outing on Oct. 5, 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 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 seven of nine weeks this 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.

Natalie Rizzo grabbed the Blue Demons’ most recent award on Monday, Oct. 21 when she was named to the weekly honor roll, marking the fifth time a DePaul student-athlete has earned the recognition in 2013.

Busting Out The Brooms
DePaul has won 10 matches by a 3-0 score so far during the 2013 season, already its most since sweeping 10 contests 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.