DePaul volleyball looks to rebound from disappointing season

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DePaul volleyball looks to rebound from disappointing season

The DePaul volleyball team huddles up during one of their match's at the DePaul Invitational, that took place from Sep. 7-8.

The DePaul volleyball team huddles up during one of their match's at the DePaul Invitational, that took place from Sep. 7-8.

Jonathan Aguilar / The DePaulia

The DePaul volleyball team huddles up during one of their match's at the DePaul Invitational, that took place from Sep. 7-8.

Jonathan Aguilar / The DePaulia

Jonathan Aguilar / The DePaulia

The DePaul volleyball team huddles up during one of their match's at the DePaul Invitational, that took place from Sep. 7-8.

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The Blue Demons volleyball team has had a rough go of things in the last decade. Last season, they finished 5-24 overall and 3-15 in conference. 

DePaul went a lamentable 1-17 in three-set matches.

The last time they finished with a winning record was in 2015, when they were one game over .500. 

DePaul’s best record in conference play since joining the Big East was in 2016, when they achieved a 7-11 record. 

The Blue Demons are optimistic coming into the next year because Brittany Maxwell will return after missing the past season, and multiple recruits filled with offensive potential will be joining the team as well. 

Coach Marie Zidek spoke about the importance of both the new student-athletes coming in and how Maxwell will impact the team this year on the court. 

“They bring tremendous length, which helps in volleyball where the sport is played above the net, and they also bring tremendous terminating capability,” Zidek said. “Those recruits bring tremendous offensive potential, which was our biggest gap last year.” 

Maxwell spoke on her experience being invited to the Team USA volleyball camp in February for the second year running and how having Zidek there helped her immensely.

“It’s really helpful to have her there because she is able to tell me what they look for, and she was someone I could talk to,” Maxwell said. “I was the only person from DePaul and I didn’t really know anyone, so it was nice to have one familiar face there, and she would tell me how I was doing so I had the upper hand— someone else that I respect telling me what I needed to work on while I was there.”  

Junior outside hitter Claire Anderson also spoke on the loss of Maxwell and how the team will be strong with her for the new year. 

“We were a little bummed when we first found out that she would be redshirting because she is such a big part of our team and we are really excited for what we are going to be able to do,” Anderson said. “We took a step back and looked at the bigger picture of things and that this coming season we are going to be a lot better of a unit and we will know our systems better.”

Zidek, as well as Maxwell and Anderson, touched on how important it will be for those new recruits to develop quickly and form relationships with their teammates. 

“The first step is reaching out before they get here; we are going to have a lot of team events and it’s really important for them to feel comfortable with the team over the summer,” Anderson said. “As seniors, I always try to teach them the ropes. I try to give them tips. Getting them in the gym with us is really important so we can teach what is expected of them.”

Maxwell agreed that it is essential to speak with the recruits coming in before they are even at DePaul.

“Just helping them learn their systems and just getting to know them as people really helps to integrate them into our team culture easily,” Maxwell said. “We are really excited for all the freshmen just to have a lot of breadth on our team. We are ready to have them come in and bring something new to the team.”

Maxwell missed the whole season, and the team missed her presence as an influential player and team leader. 

“It was frustrating at first because I have been used to always helping out on the court physically, but this year, sitting out made me evaluate other ways that I could be of help,” Maxwell said. “I had to do a lot of introspection and working on developing myself as a player and as a person because I really did not have anything else to do so I might as well just work on it.” 

Zidek spoke on how tough it was for Maxwell to be off the court, but also of how the team came together and she was able to influence them from the sidelines.

“The biggest obstacle was that the team had to learn to win by committee,” Zidek said. “We like to have multiple people and multiple weapons – that’s my philosophy.  The team had come from just relying on her as their main weapon, so that was our biggest learning curve last year. Other people had to step into that point-scoring role.”

Anderson emphasized what Maxwell meant to the team and how she had to take on a bigger role because of the absence of her teammate. 

“She’s a really big leader on the court with her play; she leads by example,” Anderson said. “I had to step up. I battled some injuries, but it was on me and a couple of the other upperclassmen to lead. It was definitely a little bit of a different role because we were out there without her.”

Anderson is looking forward to the upcoming season and said she thinks the team’s results can improve.

“I am excited for the possibilities in conference that we have and the team as a unit worked really hard in the winter and spring and we are all really hungry to play and implement everything we have been working on,” Anderson said. “We want to be on the court. I think it is a really great environment and we have some really great freshmen coming in. I think we are going to be a really great group and really push each other and succeed in those games that we did not last year.” 

Maxwell said she cannot wait to get back to game action with her teammates this upcoming season and wants to soak it all in.

“We have the potential to be really good, so I am excited to put words to action and see what we can do after a year of training really hard and working on our system,” Maxwell said. “Next season, one of our biggest goals is to make the Big East Tournament because we have not been able to do that the past couple of years, so I am hoping that is where we will end up.”

The Blue Demons will look to turn things around in the upcoming season led by gritty veterans and eager newcomers.