Valparaiso Tops DePaul
CHICAGO Despite a quartet of DePaul players finishing in double-digit kill totals, the Blue Demons fell to Valparaiso 3-1 (25-18, 28-26, 20-25, 25-22) Tuesday at McGrath Arena. The Blue Demons fall to 4-21, while Valpo improves to 19-6 on the season.
Sarah Cullen paced the Blue Demons with 17 kills and 13 digs for her 17th double-double of the season. Jacie Fiedler, Kate Letcher and Kyndell Highland also finished with double-digit kill totals for the Blue Demons.
Valpo used a balanced attack to take the first set 25-18. Tied at seven, the Crusaders rallied off four unanswered points and never looked back as they swung for a staggering .355 clip. The Blue Demons managed a .118 attack percentage in the first stanza.
The second set was back-and-forth throughout with neither team able to grab more than a two-point lead as there were 21 tied scores. Both team’s offensives were on fire as Valpo hit .333 (17-5-36) in the stanza but the Blue Demons were hotter with a .364 (17-5-33) clip. The Blue Demons faced set point at 25-24 after Fiedler and Highland created a wall at the net. The Crusaders did not back down and they forced a tie at 26 before Angie Porche knocked down a kill. With a 27-26 advantage, the Blue Demons could not convert as they committed an attack error to give Valpo a 28-26 set two victory.
Down 7-6 in the third set, the Blue Demons answered with thunderous blocks to control the tempo. DePaul pulled within one on a block by Letcher and Molly Creek. Creek teamed-up with Cullen to tie the set at nine before Letcher buried a kill in the back corner to give DePaul a 10-9 advantage. The duo of Creek and Letcher teamed-up again for DePaul’s 11th point. A Valpo attack error forced the Crusaders to use their first timeout.
Following the break the Blue Demons continued to build momentum as they strung together a 4-2 run and forced Valpo to use its final timeout. With a 16-11 advantage, the Blue Demons continued to put the ball away as they swung for a .211 clip in the stanza. DePaul won the third set 25-20 behind the strong arm of Cullen, who tallied five of the squad’s 15 kills.
Tied at eight in the fourth and final frame, the momentum started to swing in Valpo’s favor as the Crusaders scored their next seven points with kills. Up 15-10, DePaul called a timeout in hopes of thwarting Valpo’s momentum. Following the break the Crusaders continued to roll and extended their lead to 18-12 to force another DePaul timeout.
The Blue Demons battled back with a 5-1 run to force a Valpo timeout at the 19-17 mark. Following the break, the Crusaders regrouped and closed out the frame on a 6-3 run to pick up the 25-22 set and match victory.
Porche paced the floor with 20 kills, while Jill Meyer tallied a match high a .579 (13-2-19) clip.
Fielder’s 14 kills came on a team-high .560 attack percentage.
The Blue Demon defense came up big was they out blocked the Crusaders 9-4. Creek tallied a season-high five block assists, while Letcher chipped in four.
The Blue Demons return to BIG EAST Conference action on Friday when they take on Rutgers in New Brunswick, NJ. The first serve is slated for 6 p.m. (CST)