DePaul volleyball (4-12, 2-3 Big East) overcame a 2-1 deficit on Wednesday night at home against the Butler Bulldogs (5-12, 2-3 Big East) to rally for a 3-2 victory (25-22, 12-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-11) and extend their winning streak to two games, their longest of the season.
DePaul had four different players put up double-digit digs. Junior Mackenzie Savage had a game-high 25 digs, while both Katie Dolan and Claire Anderson had 12 apiece and Mattie Norris wound up getting 10 digs. Anderson also had 15 kills on the match, good for her third double-double of this season’s campaign.
“That was huge. That was obviously in my young head coaching career, that probably is the biggest win ever that I’ve had yet,” said first-year head coach Marie Zidek. “It’s just so nice when you can see kids come out not scared, not afraid of anybody on the side of the net.”
After DePaul pulled off a tight victory in the first match, Butler mixed things up by starting a new rotation of front court attackers. As a result, Butler opened the second match with a commanding 7-1 lead and had DePaul’s attackers looking out of sync.
Though Butler was victorious in both the second and third set, DePaul began to figure out Butler’s offensive rotations, ultimately leading to their comeback in the final two sets.
Both teams played pretty evenly in terms of skill level. Despite Butler edging DePaul in points, 80-76, and earning less two less attack errors, DePaul was able to stay alive in the final two matches by playing team ball. Notably, DePaul won the assist category 68-59, and that played a big role in DePaul’s comeback effort.
Sophomore right side hitter Emma Price played an integral part in revitalizing DePaul’s team energy by maximizing her six-foot-two-inch frame en route to leading all players with 18 points and 17 kills.
“Honestly, I think it all comes down to energy and just being good teammates, and I think we all had a lot of positive energy and were there for each other and that just leads to great volleyball,” Price said. “It’s tough coming on from such a losing streak, and definitely we feel like we’re just getting started now and we have a lot to come.”
Avarie Evans-Allen, also a sophomore, showed up to play. Having missed some action earlier this season, she produced 12 kills for DePaul.
“We’ve been using one word with her: command,” Zidek said. “It’s so fun to see Avarie continue to climb up the ladder in terms of where she stacks up between the middles in the conference.”
Constantly paying attention to the scoreboard and stressing about numbers isn’t a priority for DePaul. What is a priority for the team in the future, however, is following Zidek’s system. Zidek emphasized that her players have gotten much better on trusting each other as this season has progressed.
“We train the X’s and O’s, but we put more emphasis on training what you’re going through on the court as an athlete from an emotional standpoint and a mental standpoint,” Zidek said. “We’ve been telling our girls in training that we’ve been so close to breaking through with our system. You know, it takes a good year to really understand a new offensive and defensive system, and the girls have just taken it upon themselves to kind of learn faster and stay confident in their games.”
Next up, DePaul will face the Marquette Golden Eagles (13-4, 4-1 Big East), who rank second in the conference, on Saturday at noon right here in Chicago.