Volleyball falls to St. Johns, rebounds vs. Seton Hall


Erin Henze

Defensive specialist Julia Nagy (4) celebrates with teammates after the Blue Demons score a point during Friday’s 3-0 loss to St. John’s.

DePaul volleyball was swept by St. John’s on Friday night in a quick match that found the Blue Demons struggling to find a way to work around a very tough Thunderbird defense. 

The match was the first home match for DePaul in two weeks, and they left the gym that night with a conference record of 2-7.

Right out of the gate, St. John’s jumped to a substantial 10-3 lead, refusing to let the ball hit their side of the court and forcing DePaul to use their final timeout of the set. 

St. John’s continued to impede any attacks made by DePaul, ready to block whatever was sent their way. 

“Hats off to St. Johns,” head coach Marie Zidek said after the game.They did a great job with their block, and they had us scouted well, and I think it’s a good lesson for our players to be able to take away from that match.”

St. John’s took the first set 25-14.

The second set opened with DePaul refusing to let St. John’s run away with the score again. The Blue Demons scored the first two points of the set, and St. John’s never saw more than a three-point lead. 

“We can’t go on the court after a set we just lost with this negative mentality,” pin hitter Taylor Underwood said after the match. “We actually did stay together as a team, so that’s what we need to keep doing.”

St. John’s called their first timeout of the night once DePaul took a 9-8 lead. This timeout fueled a St. John’s streak, scoring point after point until they saw a 17-14 lead that had the Blue Demons calling a timeout. 

“What we did against them tonight that we did better than when we played them the first time is we did a much better job of getting our block involved on their attackers,” Zidek said. “Then what we saw from their attackers was that they geared up. They hit higher edges of the block that made it a little bit harder for us to defend. They responded.”

St. John’s won the second set with a slightly smaller margin at 25-19. 

DePaul scored the first point of set three, but St. John’s quickly racked up the points and took the third set with a final score of 25-19, ending the match. 

“We’re getting better every match, and I know we got swept and it’s really hard to see the silver linings, but I think our block got a lot better and our team got a lot better,” Zidek said. “We just weren’t able to keep up with their responses as they made adjustments in the match, so that’s what we’ll look to do as we move forward.”

The Blue Demons started strong and never looked back during Saturday’s afternoon matchup with Seton Hall, sweeping the Pirates three sets to zero. 

The big story of the first set was the performance of outside hitter Jill Pressly, who amassed a whopping 10 kills and maintained a 77% attack percentage in the first set alone. 

“She can take over matches like that,” head coach Marie Zidek said after the game. “That is Jill at her best. Seeing the block really well and using it to score whenever she can. I thought she did a really nice job of that tonight.” 

Fueled by Pressly’s performance, DePaul took control of the set from the beginning and defeated Seton Hall by a score of 25-19. 

“For the most part, I just try to see where the block is headed,” Pressly said when asked about her court awareness and ability to notch a kill at will. “If I see that they’re late, I’ll try to hit the inner seam between the two or chisel their hands. I think that’s the best way to get a cheap kill and get out of the rotation.” 

The second set was never in question for the Blue Demons as they went on a 9-0 scoring run midway through and won 25-17. 

“I just think we did a nice job of refocusing from last night to tonight,” Zidek said. “We know against Seton Hall you have to start fast because they can get into matches really quickly with their attacking and defense. We came out, we respected our opponent, and we took care of our own game on our side of the net.” 

The Blue Demons never trailed in the final set and watched a Pirate match-point service error hand them the 25-21 victory. 

“I think we did a good job of getting everyone to stay engaged and make eye contact with each other,” Jill Pressly said of DePaul’s inspired and energetic performance. “I think coming into the middle, cheering everyone on, giving high-fives and making eye contact really helps everyone to keep doing their job.”

Their defeat of Seton Hall puts DePaul at #8 in the Big East rankings and improves their conference record to 3-7. 

The Blue Demons will face a very tough No. 2-ranked Big East opponent in Marquette at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night at McGrath-Phillips Arena. 

“If we can get our block from offense back into defense really fast, keep passing well and continue to stay kill for kill I think we have a shot with them,” Zidek said. “If not, I think it will be a fast match.”