DePaul women’s volleyball entered its Breast Cancer Awareness weekend with one win in their last seven games, winning just five sets over that span. With two games over the weekend, DePaul looked to get right with matchups against Butler and Xavier.
On Friday, DePaul faced a Butler team that was 5-4 in conference and coming off a 3-1 win over Providence, lead in points with 303 by Whitney Beck. DePaul came into the match without Claire Anderson, who was second on the team with 202 kills.
Butler would get off to a fast start in the first set opening with the first three points, eventually getting to a 7-3 before DePaul head coach Nadia Edwards would use the team’s first time out. DePaul hung around in the set, but never seriously threatened to tie it. DePaul would use their second timeout down 12-20 and would close the gap slightly before the end. A spike from Butler’s Brooke Gregory ended the first set 25-18, Butler’s way.
DePaul came out stronger in the second set, keeping up with Butler for the first four points. Butler began to pull away, getting to an 8-5 lead before a DePaul time out. The bleeding didn’t stop as Butler continued to pull away, building a 14-7 lead. The teams would be relatively even during the duration of the set and Butler won it 25-18.
The third set was the most competitive, DePaul grabbing their first lead of the day, going up 2-1 early in the set after a Butler hit went out of bounds. DePaul took the momentum and built the lead to four, going up 11-7 forcing Butler’s first, and only, timeout of the match. After the timeout, Butler began battling back, finally tying the game at 16. It was a battle down the stretch, the teams staying with each other up until 22-22. Butler went on a decisive 3-0 run to finish the sweep with the 25-22 win.
After the game, Edwards said Butler made them elevate their game. She also had some good things to take away from the loss.
“I really give credit to our team for coming out and having that fight, especially in that third set and elevating their game and answering the call,” Edwards said.
Junior Brittany Maxwell lead the team with 11 kills and added seven digs. She thought that the energy in the third set was good, but to avoid the 0-2 whole, the need to bring it out earlier.
“Our energy is what’s going to help. We have a tendency to build up our intensity in prep for the third set and that’s when we really get going,” Maxwell said. “So, if we can just bring that in the first set right away I think that would really help.”
The Xavier match, a pink-out for breast cancer awareness, was set for Saturday night. Edwards was happy with her team’s play going into the match.
“We encourage them to stay the course. They fought very hard against this team and if they are consistent with the way they played tonight, tomorrow, we will get different results,” Edwards said after the Butler match.
Myha Reed, who finished the Butler game with 10 kills and 11 points, wanted to carry the momentum they built up into the match against Xavier.
“We’re all pretty excited about tomorrow. It’s a great cause and we really want to focus in on the fans. Play for the fans and our families and individuals who have been affected by breast cancer,” Reed said. “We’re just going to carry the same momentum and energy into tomorrow.”
Against Xavier, DePaul seemingly flipped the script, jumping out to early leads in both the first and second sets. They were unsuccessful in holding them and would be swept again, falling in the sets 25-18, 25-23 and 25-22.
The games were DePaul’s first two in the second half of the Big East games, playing every team for the second time. DePaul enters the final stretch with a 2-9 conference record and 8-15 overall. Edwards knows her team is capable, but doesn’t think they have always played to their strengths.
“I think we can all agree that in the first half we let some teams play to their strengths when we weren’t playing to ours or we were slow getting into a match and finished strong, but it was too late,” Edwards said. “So I think the lesson that we take from the first half is to play our game and just come out with that strong heart and belief.”