Big East Battle: DePaul downs UConn in four sets


Lucas Paredes

DePaul celebrates scoring a point against UConn during Saturday night’s victory.

The Blue Demons came out on the right side of a tough-fought battle against the Connecticut Huskies on Saturday night, winning the match three sets to one. This improves the team’s conference record to 2-2. 

DePaul came out hot in the first set, getting touches on nearly everything UConn sent their way and refusing to let the ball hit the court. 

“Our history with UConn gave us a little extra fuel tonight,” head coach Marie Zidek explained after the game. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for that UConn team. They’re a phenomenal program. We knew we had to come out ready for these girls and bring a little extra gumption to this match.”

DePaul, aided by three ace serves and 14 kills from a variety of efficient Demon hitters, were able to run away with the first set 25-15. 

The Huskies, however, would not go quietly. UConn got into a groove in the second set, outnumbering DePaul in kills 12-9 and making significantly less errors than the Demons. 

“We really need to work on keeping our momentum going,” setter Ashley Cudiamat said. “We always try to come back as best we can, but we need to maintain that momentum throughout the whole match.” 

The Huskies tied up the match 1-1 with a 25-14 second set victory, setting the stage for a thrilling final two sets. 

“One thing we worked on to prepare for this match was error correction,” Coach Zidek said. “It forced our players to access their game for longer periods of time. We knew we were going to have to do that because UConn doesn’t back off. They just come harder and harder.”

DePaul’s stamina was evident in the third set as they fought back from a 15-18 deficit. A pair of monster kills by middle hitter Aly Kindleberger and a clutch final attack by outside Jill Presly gave DePaul the momentum they needed to take over and defeat the Huskies 25-23. 

The last set featured an amazing back-and-forth display of grit and ferocity between the Huskies and the Blue Demons. Ultimately, DePaul’s balanced attack power, aggressive serves and refusal to let the ball touch the hardwood allowed them to take the Huskies down by a score of 26-24. 

“I try to spread the ball out to my hitters depending on who’s on the other side of the net blocking,” Cudiamat said. “When there’s a weaker blocker on the left side, I’ll send it that way. It opens up the hitters for a lot of one-on-ones.” 

DePaul’s balanced offense is the key to overcoming tough opponents like UConn. The Blue Demons had three players — Bailey Nelson, Aly Kindelberger, and Jill Pressly — put up double digit kill numbers, and finished with eight aces- twice as many as UConn.

Coach Zidek hopes that her team can improve upon their success in the Big East conference over the next couple of weeks. 

“Moments like these are competitive experiences you can’t take away, and I hope we can roll over now and make that our new standard,” she said. “We’ve got to come in and compete.” 

DePaul will continue their quest for Big East prosperity next Friday, Oct. 7 at Seton Hall in New Jersey.