Senior Night Awaits As Volleyball Wraps Regular Season Against Butler, Xavier
Nov. 21, 2013
CHICAGO - A bittersweet weekend awaits DePaul volleyball as the team hosts Senior Night amidst a pair of conference matches against Butler and Xavier, closing out the regular season this weekend at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
Both matches are set for 7:00 p.m. CT starts. Saturday's match will feature a post-match ceremony, honoring DePaul's senior class of Genesis Reyes, Natalie Rizzo, Allyson Rooks, Anastasiya Shutava, Laura Witt and Vesela Zapryanova.
Sitting at 16-12, the DePaul volleyball team has lost nine of its past 10 matches since Oct. 15. The stretch has been particularly tough to stomach after the Blue Demons began the season with 13 straight wins. Despite the recent string of losses, however, DePaul has guaranteed itself a winning season for the first time since 2001.
The Blue Demons host Butler and Xavier this weekend, looking for revenge after losing to both in straight sets to begin November. It will be the first time DePaul has played either team at home as conference opponents.
Both Xavier and Butler have already clinched spots in the BIG EAST Conference Championships, which will be held Nov. 29-30 in Omaha, Neb. Marquette and Creighton will join them at the tournament.
The Bulldogs were hot in the match, hitting .377 (51-11-106) and getting at least 10 kills from three different players. Abbie Fleener led the Blue Demons with 10 kills.
Xavier leads 8-4, including a 3-0 win in Cincinnati, Ohio on Nov. 1. In that match, DePaul hit a season-low .029 while committing 20 errors. Xavier's Abbey Bessler recorded a match-high 18 kills in the win.
As a team, BU ranks second in the BIG EAST with a .267 hitting percentage and first in opponent hitting percentage (.153). Strong on defense, the Bulldogs also have the second-best block in the conference (2.91 bps) and rank third in digs per set (16.18).
Abbey Bessler has put up 20 double-doubles this season and has been named the conference's Rookie of the Week on two separate occasions, including this past week. Senior Alex Smith leads the BIG EAST in efficiency, hitting .405 (285-46-590).
As a team, Xavier ranks second in the BIG EAST in assists per set (13.37) and kills per set (14.27), as well as first in the conference in digs per set (17.96).
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.
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.
Its latest sweep, a 3-0 win at Georgetown, was the program's first BIG EAST sweep since Oct. 28, 2011 at St. John's and just the sixth since the Blue Demons 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
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.
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 sixth in the BIG EAST with 4.03 digs per set and has posted double-digit dig totals in 11 of her past 12 matches.