Nowadays on the DePaul women’s volleyball court, there is nothing but laughter and encouraging words. As the women engage in their daily practice drills before head coach Nadia Edwards’ arrival, there is already a huge difference in team chemistry in comparison to just this past season.
With consistent communication between the recruiting class of 2015 and returning players during the offseason, the Blue Demons aim to keep up a winning chemistry, which has them off to a 2-1 record to begin the season. DePaul hopes to reverse their fortunes after a 3-23 record last year.
“The returning players have been super helpful, and I think everyone’s coming together really well,” freshman Brittany Maxwell said. “They’ve all been super supportive and not hesitating to help us out when we need it.”
With bar high expectations from the returners, Edwards said this year’s team is notably more mature and resilient. The offseason interaction with the incoming class provided a chance for the freshmen to come and latch onto such values and expectations.
“Our team got a lot better with age, like we’re not all freshmen and juniors now,” senior Callie Huebener said. “(The freshmen) were here for the summer so they became accustomed to our work ethic and culture here.”
The senior was recently placed on the Big East Weekly Honor Roll after leading the team with 31 kills in wins over Southern Illinois Edwardsville and Western Illinois. She also made the all-tournament team alongside sophomore Caitlyn Coffey, and is also currently standing as the Big East leader in seven service aces.
Maxwell made headlines as well during her debut against Drake as she led the team with a high of 12 kills. She is currently standing at a total of 27 kills, and hitting .290 for the year.
But Huebener and Maxwell are only one of the many standout players on the team, as Edwards noted.
“We’ve got a ton, just in terms of talent and versatility,” Edwards said. “Callie came off of a great weekend, and Brittany has had a great start to the season.
“We’re hoping she can continue to find her way as she goes along in her freshman year,” she said. “Tyler (Graham) is a dominant player for us as a libero, who didn’t see any playing time last year with her injury, so she’s going to be a huge contender for us.”
Including Graham, the team saw many injuries last year, as Huebener recognized would be a weakness they would have to carefully watch out for this time around.
A typical practice for the ladies has them working on fundamentals, starting with many position specific and ball control drills, ending with team drills that bring out competition.
“We always capitalize on our strengths, and we try to work on our weaknesses here in practice, but the strength in this team is in our leadership, and it’s also in our depth,” Edwards said. “We have a lot more offense this year, and I think we’ve sharpened up our defense from last year. In terms of weaknesses, it’s just learning to compete as we go and continuing to show that resilience.”
Ending her senior year, Huebener hopes to finally achieve the strong season her team has been working so hard to get.
“I feel like when that happens, all my personal goals will help make that happen,” she said.
As for Maxwell, all she hopes to accomplish her rookie season is living up to the expectations of both her coaches and teammates. The team is excited for any and all opponents they’ll be facing this season, including the Big East.
“I just want to help my team as much as I can, in terms of our record, and be (everything that) they want me to be,” Maxwell said.
“The next match in front of us is the most important, that’s how we see things,” Edwards said.
Hoping to continue their good record, the DePaul women’s volleyball will host the DePaul Invitational beginning on Sept. 4. They will take on Toledo, Evansville and Eastern Illinois.