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Senior Night Awaits As Volleyball Wraps Regular Season Against Butler, Xavier
Senior Vesela Zapryanova is coming off back-to-back double-doubles during last weekend's East Coast road trip.


Senior Vesela Zapryanova is coming off back-to-back double-doubles during last weekend's East Coast road trip.

Nov. 21, 2013

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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.

Series Histories
Butler leads 9-7 and picked up a 3-0 win in the most recent meeting on Nov. 2 in Indianapolis, Ind.    

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.
   
Scouting The Bulldogs
Butler enters the weekend 23-6 and 10-4 in the BIG EAST, as well as locked into a top-four finish in the conference standings. The Bulldogs have won five straight and sport a 5-3 road record on the season.

Junior Belle Obert, an outside hitter, leads the offense with 3.38 kps (341 kills) on a .268 attack percentage. Middle blocker Erica Stahl ranks second in the conference in blocks per set (1.34).

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).
   
Scouting The Musketeers
XU comes into the weekend at 20-9 and stands second in the BIG EAST with an 11-3 record. The Musketeers are 7-4 on the road and have won four straight.

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).   

Efficiency Matters
One of the most efficient teams in the country, DePaul sported a .249 hitting percentage through 28  matches - a number ranking third in the BIG EAST Conference and 47th 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 12 weeks.

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 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
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.

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 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.