Senior Sweep: DePaul handles Butler for first 2-0 weekend of the season


DePaul Athletics

The DePaul volleyball team celebrates after winning a point against Butler.

DePaul’s women’s volleyball team beat the visiting Butler Bulldogs twice in a conference series on Friday and Saturday afternoon. 

The series was especially impactful for the DePaul seniors playing their last scheduled home game on Saturday. Isabelle Banez, Emma Price and Averie Evans-Allen were honored while accompanied by a fellow player and their families on Zoom, during pregame Saturday, for a Senior Day sendoff. 

Prior to that, DePaul (3-3, 3-3) took care of Butler (3-5, 0-2), and head coach Sharon Clark in their third straight five-set match on Friday. 

In the first set, DePaul led 21-16 heading into a Butler timeout. Immediately after, Butler went on a 9-1 run to secure the victory. DePaul answered in the next set, pulling away after a very even start, 25-20. 

In the third set, DePaul once again fumbled a late 5-point lead, allowing Butler to inch closer toward victory after winning a set that went into extra time, 26-24. The fourth set was DePaul’s most dominant set of the season, ending on a 9-0 run and eventually winning 25-14.  

Friday’s final set was a battle of attrition as DePaul and Butler went back and forth, not allowing either team to pull away until DePaul finally got the rally they needed to end it in extra time, 20-18 and win the game 3-2. The match lasted nearly two and a half hours and was DePaul’s second win of 2021 where they needed to come back from a set deficit to win in five sets. 

The match was nearly dead even in all statistical categories except for total blocks, an area in which the Blue Demons’ front line dominated the Bulldogs, 11-5. Evans-Allen, junior Donna Brown and sophomore Bailey Nelson each contributed to the Blue Demons’ six total blocks. 

DePaul’s freshmen especially came to play. Jill Pressley led the Blue Demons in kills with 16. Phoenix Lee led in assists, with 28, while the young libero, Rachel Krasowski, led DePaul in digs, with 23. It was a coordinated effort that showed how promising the future is for this team. 

Butler contended with three players in double figures for scoring. Junior Melody Davidson and sophomores Brittany Robinson and Marisa Guisti all contributed 13 kills in a losing effort. 

On Saturday, the two teams met again. This time, head coach Marie Zidek and the Blue Demons made quick work of Butler for their third straight win and their first straight-sets victory of the season on a special Senior Day. 

DePaul took the first set 25-21 after going on a couple of runs to pull away. The next set was the Blue Demon’ best set all season, getting off to a large lead early and never letting up, winning 25-15. The final set was more of the same as DePaul took it 25-18 and handled Butler with an ease yet to be seen for the Blue Demons all season. 

Brown had a superb game, tying Nelson for 10 kills and leading with 13 total points accounted for. Pressley had her third straight double-digit point match with 12 points. 

Lee, the former Canadian National Team setter once again showcased her skills, leading DePaul in assists again with 18.

Davidson led Butler once again with 11 kills. Additionally, sophomore DePaul transfer Elana Brueggemann added 9 kills for Butler in the loss against her old team.   

The Blue Demons dominated in a lot of aspects of the game, but most importantly played crisp while Butler imploded with 32 total errors to DePaul’s 20. Butler’s mistakes were a problem in both games as on Friday they had 8 more errors than DePaul. 

While Saturday’s match was the last scheduled game at McGrath-Phillips Arena for DePaul, there is a chance that the Blue Demons will be able to add a home non-conference game to their slate. 

This could allow seniors like Banez, Price and Evans-Allen an unprecedented, post-Senior Day home game, albeit with no fans in the stands. For now, DePaul aims to focus on extending their three-game winning streak in a season that is nearing the postseason despite starting just two weeks ago. 

DePaul heads to Omaha to face No. 23 Creighton in their final scheduled conference series next week. The games will take place on Friday, March 5 and Saturday, March 6 at 11:00 a.m.