DePaul Finishes Season with a Big Win Over Conference Leader St. John's
CHICAGO After a tearful senior day celebration, the DePaul volleyball team got to work against the BIG EAST Conference’s number one team, St. John’s. The Blue Demons dominated the match with a league play season-high .353 (58-17-116) clip and went on to take their final match of the season 3-1 (25-23, 21-25, 25-15, 25-20), Sunday at McGrath Arena. DePaul finishes the season 7-22 and 4-10 in conference play, while St. John’s falls to 21-8 and 12-2 in league play and enters the BIG EAST Championship as the No. 1 seed.
DePaul came out on the attack, with Sarah Cullen and Jacie Fiedler accounting for 33 of the Blue Demon’s 58 kills. Cullen registered a career-high .441 clip on 20 kills. Fiedler chipped in 13 kills and registered her eighth .500 plus attack percentage of the season with a .565 (13-0-23) hitting percentage. DePaul setter Christy Landschoot dished out 49 assists.
With the offense clicking, the Blue Demons got the ball to spin the right direction from the service line as the squad tallied a season-high 13 service aces. Kate Letcher and Kyndell Highland each recorded four service aces, while Mattie Boyd and Cullen each served a pair. Fielder rounded out the dominance from behind the line with a single ace.
DePaul commanded the first set with 19 kills and an unstoppable match-high .433 attack percentage. The Blue Demons won the first point and despite 12 tie scores and four lead changes their hot hitting was no match for the Red Storm. Cullen and Lauren Blasi each tallied five kills in the Blue Demons 25-23 set one victory.
The Blue Demons raced out to a 3-1 lead in the first set, but STJ tied the stanza at three before committing a service error and Fielder and Cullen converted on thunderous kills. Up 6-3, St. John’s used an early timeout.
With an early three point advantage, the Blue Demons continued to terminate and stretched their lead to 9-4 on a pair of STJ attack errors and a kill by Cullen. The Red Storm tightened their defense and tied the set at 10. The two teams traded points for the remainder of the first stanza before DePaul took advantage of a STJ attack error and controlled the set with a 20-19 lead. The Blue Demons never relinquished their lead as Blasi, Fiedler and Cullen all registered kills in the closing points.
The second set continued to be tight, as there were nine ties and seven lead changes. Tied at 20 St. John’s won the set’s 21st point on a kill from Wioleta Leszczynska. The Red Storm held on to win the second stanza 25-21.
Following the break between the second and third sets, the Blue Demons reenergized and hit a sizzling .423 clip compared to St. John’s lackluster .156 attack percentage. A two all tie quickly turned into an 8-2 DePaul lead. From that point forward the Blue Demons never allowed St. John’s closer than four points as they sailed to a 25-15 set three win. Cullen led the team's charge with six kills while Highland chipped in four kills and three service aces.
With momentum in their favor the Blue Demons continued to terminate the ball well and play exceptional defense. The two teams traded points in the first half of the final set as there were 10 ties before DePaul broke a 15 all stalemate with a point on an STJ ball handling error. The Blue Demons sustained their lead with six kills in the closing points, before Fiedler gave DePaul the thrilling victory with a kill to the back court.
DePaul’s defense came up big as it held the league’s number one team to a .228 attack percentage. Libero Caitlin Callaghan closed out her career with a team-high 14 digs. Highland also finished in double-digit digs, while Cullen collected her 19th double-double of the season with 11 digs.
Valeria Kovaleva paced the Red Storm with 13 kills, while Darlene Ramdin added 11.
The Blue Demons closed out the season by winning three of its last four matches.
Match Notes: DePaul won five of their last 10 matches... it was the program’s first win over St. John’s... the team’s seven wins ties the 2007 team’s output and is the most since 2004... Jacie Fiedler finished her sophomore campaign with a school record single-season .356 (327-77-703) attack percentage... Sarah Cullen finished her junior campaign with 415 kills and 312 digs... St. John’s leads the overall series 4-1.