Following strong start, DePaul volleyball disappoints in Chicago Cup

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Following strong start, DePaul volleyball disappoints in Chicago Cup

Loyola sophomore Victoria Hodkiewicz (right), spikes the ball for past sophomore, DePaul’s Donna Brown (middle), and junior Emma Price (left). DePaul lost all three games during the Chicago Cup held at the McGrath-Phillips arena on Saturday.

Loyola sophomore Victoria Hodkiewicz (right), spikes the ball for past sophomore, DePaul’s Donna Brown (middle), and junior Emma Price (left). DePaul lost all three games during the Chicago Cup held at the McGrath-Phillips arena on Saturday.

Xavier Ortega / The DePaulia

Loyola sophomore Victoria Hodkiewicz (right), spikes the ball for past sophomore, DePaul’s Donna Brown (middle), and junior Emma Price (left). DePaul lost all three games during the Chicago Cup held at the McGrath-Phillips arena on Saturday.

Xavier Ortega / The DePaulia

Xavier Ortega / The DePaulia

Loyola sophomore Victoria Hodkiewicz (right), spikes the ball for past sophomore, DePaul’s Donna Brown (middle), and junior Emma Price (left). DePaul lost all three games during the Chicago Cup held at the McGrath-Phillips arena on Saturday.

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Before play began this season, the Blue Demons marked this tournament on their calendars. They wanted to show that they were Chicago’s best and make a statement to their inner city rivals.

The Blue Demons have had a long stretch at home and head coach Marie Zidek touched on how the team has used it to build chemistry.

“It’s a huge advantage to start at home, it will build excellent rapport, we think we have an excellent advantage and we love bringing people into our gym,” he said

In their first matchup with University of Illinois at Chicago, DePaul controlled the early going in the first set before the score was knotted up at 10. After that, UIC would not trail again and took a tough opening set 27-25.

In the second set it was more of the same competitive volleyball and the Blue Demons were in the driver’s seat halfway through. They had a five point lead on the Flames but UIC kept chipping away. DePaul could not hold the lead they had built and lost the second set 25-23.

The third set had the same narrative. Both teams traded points early and DePaul looked like they were about to pull away at the midpoint. UIC would comeback for the third time and take set three more decisively by a score of 25-19.

“Being at your home court is always an advantage and it’s fun because you get the students from DePaul and our families coming to support,” Maxwell said when addressing the home-court advantage. “It’s definitely a good atmosphere.”

In the middle match of the tournament the Blue Demons faced the Loyola Ramblers. DePaul claimed the first point of the first set, but would trail the rest of the way with Loyola taking a rather routine 1-0 lead with a 25-15 finish.

The second set was a highly competitive with both teams putting their bodies on the line. Loyola led by as many as five but DePaul would rally back to tie the set at 16. The Blue Demons stepped on the gas to win the set 25-21, and got a huge boost from Natalie Hayward who served up back-to-back aces to solidify the lead.

The third set went back and forth. The Ramblers looked like the stronger side and took a 17-10 lead. The Ramblers came back to be tied at 24 and took the next two points including an ace on set point to win the third set, and then win the final fourth set.

“We are trying to carry the momentum that we had the past couple of weekends into our conference play,” Maxwell said

The nightcap of the Chicago Cup was against Big Ten opponent Northwestern. The score was knotted up at four when the Wildcats’ Temi Thomas-Ailara had three service aces in a row. She added seven kills in the first set which Northwestern ran away with by a score of 25-12. It was the same story in the second set, and Northwestern took the third set 25-16 to sweep.

“We knew this weekend would be one of the toughest of our preseason so far because they are really good teams and they are all rivalries,’’ Zidek said following the losses. “I always say when you have disappointing matches you want to play a match, you don’t want to have a full week of practice, so for me the silver lining is we get to rip that bandaid off quickly.”

Zidek then challenged her team to look at the bigger picture and improve, “The energy that all three teams play with, that’s something that this group is yet to do; we have not been pressed this much,” she said.“We had three tough matches and that is what Big East Conference play is going to be like, we need some inspired performances to come out of our players going forward.”

The Blue Demons will have to overcome the letdown of this Chicago Cup quickly as they open up Big East Conference play on Wednesday against Xavier University at McGrath-Phillips Arena.

Wednesday against Xavier University at McGrath-Phillips Arena.

all rivalries,’’ Zidek said following the losses. “I always say when you have disappointing matches you want to play a match, you don’t want to have a full week of practice, so for me the silver lining is we get to rip that bandaid off quickly.”

Zidek then challenged her team to look at the bigger picture and improve, “The energy that all three teams play with, that’s something that this group is yet to do; we have not been pressed this much,” she said.“We had three tough matches and that is what Big East Conference play is going to be like, we need some inspired performances to come out of our players going forward.”