DePaul volleyball sweeps Iowa State to finish 2021 spring regular season on strong note


Marquette Athletics

DePaul volleyball sweeps Iowa State to finish 2021 spring regular season on strong note.

DePaul’s women’s volleyball team defeated their non-conference foe, Iowa State, twice on Friday and Saturday afternoon to end the regular season on an exclamation point.

Iowa State (6-12, 5-9) was not on DePaul’s original spring schedule. However, after the Blue Demons finished their conference slate earlier than most, they had some time to add formidable opponents to bolster their resume, as well as prepare for the fall season and send off their seniors with a proud finish.

That is exactly what they did as they took down Iowa State in five-sets on Friday, and 3-1 on Saturday.

In their first match, DePaul (6-5, 3-5) rallied from down two to go on a 4-0 for the 25-23 win in the first set. In the next set, Iowa State regrouped and held a consistent five-point lead throughout to take the set 25-20. In the third set, DePaul once again used a late rally to propel themselves from a deficit, taking the set in extra play, 26-24.

When DePaul had the chance to end it before the final set, they faltered. Many service errors allowed the Cyclones to build a cushion and win the set 25-20.

Going into the fifth set, a situation DePaul has been in many times this season, the Blue Demons charged out to their largest lead all day at 7-2 and salvaged the lead to take the set 15-9, and the match 3-2. Following Friday’s victory, DePaul moved to 3-2 in five-set matches for the 2021 spring season.

To start her final home series at DePaul, senior Averie Evans-Allen dominated and led the Blue Demons with 14 kills and accounted for four blocks. Freshman Jill Pressley added 13 kills alongside fellow front-liners Donna Brown and Allison Dennemann, both with nine kills.

Molly Murrihy and Phoenix Lee helped facilitate a front-line scoring frenzy for DePaul by offering up 27 and 23 assists, respectively.

Although in a losing effort, Iowa State had a triple threat in scoring that equalized and nearly surpassed DePaul’s with Kenzie Mantz, Eleanor Holthaus and Annie Hatch all reaching double-digits in kills.

Friday’s match was statistically even. DePaul and Iowa State had the exact same number of points, each scoring 160 on the match, as well as the exact same number of kills, both with 60 on the match. The slight difference to give DePaul the edge was service errors of which Iowa State was disadvantaged 13-9, an important factor with two teams so evenly matched.

The tight margins of Friday would continue as the two met again Saturday. In the first set of the final match, the moment DePaul built their largest lead of the weekend at 22-15, Iowa State went on an 11-2 run to steal the first set from the Blue Demons in extra time 26-24.

DePaul’s fortunes would change, though, as they would rattle off three consecutive victories in as closely contested of matches as possible in the sport of volleyball. For the second set, DePaul took the set in extra play 26-24 using a 7-1 ending run to replicate what the Cyclones had just done to them.

The third set, DePaul went on multiple runs that caused discomfort for Iowa State, even prompting Cyclone Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch to attempt to call a timeout when she had none remaining. Alas, DePaul won the set 25-23. The fourth set offered DePaul a little bit more cushion but still ended close, 25-22 to give DePaul the match victory 3-1.

On the weekend, no set was won by more than six points, with Saturday having final margins all within three points.

Jill Pressley had a stellar game, leading the victorious Blue Demons with 15 kills. Bailey Nelson also added 13 kills. Molly Murrihy who once again had over 20 assists also had three aces, while freshman libero Rachel Krasowski’s back-line acrobatics aided the Blue Demons with 19 digs.

For Iowa State, Mantz, Hatch, and Holthaus all reached double-figures again. In an eerily similar stat line to Friday, the outlier was once again service errors where the Cyclones lost 8-2.

Barring a surprise with a schedule change or an unprecedented invitation to the NCAA Tournament, this will be DePaul’s last match of the spring 2021 season.

While senior girls that saw the court like Emma Price, Averie Evans-Allen and Isabelle Banez are expected to depart following this home victory, there is a possibility that extra eligibility will be granted due to Covid-19. For the remainder of the team, ending the regular season on a three-game winning streak is a good accomplishment for a young squad with future promise.

For now, DePaul will finish fourth in the Big East’s Midwest Division behind No. 23 Creighton, Marquette and Xavier, and with an RPI ranking of 118th in the nation. The winning streak is a good stepping stone for the fall where volleyball will return to a more traditional format of a season.