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Blue Demons Soar Higher Than Golden Eagles

CHICAGO Junior outside hitter Sarah Cullen tallied a match-high 22 kills as the DePaul volleyball team fought its way to a 3-2 (21-25, 30-28, 26-24, 23-25, 15-12) victory over BIG EAST Conference rival Marquette.  The Blue Demons improved their overall record to 4-19 and 2-8 BIG EAST action, while the Golden Eagles drop to 8-14 and 2-7 in league play.

DePaul started off strong in the first set, jumping out to a 4-0 advantage behind a kill by Jacie Fielder and strong service from Kyndell Highland.  Following three kills by Sarah Cullen, as well as one kill apiece from Christy Landschoot, Lauren Blasi, and Highland, the Blue Demons opened their lead by five points (14-9).  Marquette continued to battle back, however, and finally tied things back up at 19.  With Ashlee Fisher serving, the Golden Eagles continued to climb, and ended up taking the first set 25-21.

DePaul showed heart and determination as they fought back after the disappointing loss.  Kate Letcher and Cullen led the offensive attack, with Letcher registering a .600 clip and Cullen adding seven kills.  With neither team leading by more than two, the second set proved to be a battle of attrition, with seven lead changes and 21 ties.  With the Blue Demon’s down 27-28 and the threat of an 0-2 match deficit, Cullen came up with her timely sixth kill of the match.  DePaul never looked back, finally earning the 30-28 victory behind kills by Cullen and Landschoot.  The team finished the set with a .269 attack percentage.

The Blue Demons returned from the break with momentum on their side.  Marquette quickly proved they weren’t ready to give in, however, jumping out to a 7-4 lead.  DePaul continued to claw its way back into the mix, setting the match back to neutral at the 12th point.  Despite logging a modest .189 team attack percentage, timely blocks from Fiedler, Cullen, Landschoot, and Highland, as well as service aces from Cullen and Letcher were the difference.  The Blue Demons put the set away 26-24, after a Fiedler’s sixth kill.

Despite an attack percentage advantage in the fourth set, .273 vs. .257, DePaul had a hard time finding their rhythm.  Tiara Russell led the offensive battle for Marquette, registering five kills in only eight attempts.  The Golden Eagles, after going down 2-1, took the lead back following a kill by Caryn Mastandrea and never looked back.  They maintained the lead for the duration of set, winning 25-23, and tying the match back up at two.

Both teams continued to go point-for-point in the fifth and final set.  With score being 7-10, and the match on the line, the Blue Demons relied on their defense to pull them through.  DePaul regained the lead 12-11 follwing a Marquette attack error.  Following a pair of service errors committed by both sides, Fiedler served for the final point, 15-12.

Landschoot dished out 62 assists and recorded 10 digs.  Caitlin Callaghan guided the defense with 17 digs and Highland tacked on an additional 11.  Cullen registered her 15th double-double with 22 kills and 13 digs.

Ashlee Fisher led Marquette's offense with 19 kills, while Amy Deelo paced the defense with 20 digs.

The Blue Demons returns to McGrath Arena for more BIG EAST action on Sunday afternoon when DePaul plays host to Syracuse.  The first serve is slated for 2 p.m. (CST)