DePaul volleyball splits pair of Big East games over weekend


Jonathan Aguilar / The DePaulia

DePaul senior Brittany Maxwell goes up for a hit against Seton Hall on Saturday at McGrath-Phillips Arena. The Blue Demons won the match in four sets.

Coming into their clash against St. John’s University on Friday evening, DePaul volleyball was having issues with their execution. This led to the Blue Demons dropping all three matches of the Chicago Cup last weekend at McGrath-Phillips Arena and the first match of the Big East conference season to Xavier on Wednesday.

On the first point of the match against St. John’s, Brittany Maxwell served an ace and Avarie Evans-Allen later had back-to-back kills to give DePaul a 15-12 lead before St. John’s took their first timeout. The Red Storm roared back after that with multiple kills and won the set on a service error by Maxwell.

For set No. 2, the teams split the first 16 points before DePaul took five of the next six to lead 13-9. St. John’s would take 11 of the next 16 points to trigger a DePaul timeout. The score would be tied at 25 before Evans-Allen recorded two kills in a row to give each team a set.

In the third set, the teams were neck and neck and neither team could pull away entirely. Unfortunately for the Blue Demons, the biggest lead of three points belonged to the Red Storm and St. John’s took the set by that same three-point scoreline, 25-22.

The fourth set started The Red Storm taking the first three points, with DePaul responding and taking the next three. The early start energized St. John’s and they took a five-point lead to trigger DePaul coach Marie Zidek to take a timeout. The closest the Blue Demons would come in the later stages of the set was within two, but that was not enough as the Red Storm took the last two points and won the final set, 25-21.

“We did a really good job correcting what beat us in the Xavier match [on Wednesday] ; unfortunately, we didn’t pass as well as we needed to to win that match,” coach Zidek said after the loss. “That being said, you get another opportunity because you have to play a totally different style.

“As a coaching staff we are doing a really good job absorbing the load from them right now, they are not walking through this by themselves and we are with them every part of the way,” Zidek explained when asked what the process was to get ready for a new opponent so quickly. “I am out in front believing in them 100 percent, we just have to keep reminding them that we are so close, teams are having to play really good volleyball to beat us and we will hit our tipping point. We just have to stay the course and stay eager.”

In the first set against Seton Hall, the Blue Demons struggled to stay close to the Pirates.  The Blue Demons led 1-0, but would not come close after that. The Pirates built their lead through the first set and ended up winning that set by 12 points.

The second set was a role reversal from the first as DePaul led after the first five points and never relinquished that lead. Their biggest lead was eight, and they won the second by that scoreline, 25-17.

In the third, DePaul trailed Seton Hall until a 5-0 run gave them a two-point lead. The set stayed within that margin until the Blue Demons claimed the final point and took the set, 25-22.

The teams went back and forth in the fourth set until DePaul took a 16-11 lead. Seton Hall went on a 5-1 run to cause a timeout from the Blue Demons. The Pirates eventually took a one-point lead before DePaul had their own 5-1 run and won the match with that spurt.

“This was a big win for this team; we showed tremendous resiliency and effort to fight for our style of play,” Zidek said after the win. “They are learning to embrace pressurized points down the stretch. I’m excited.”

After a nine-game stretch at home, the Blue Demons will depart for a road test against the Butler Bulldogs midweek, then return home the following weekend for two matches.