DePaul volleyball adds offensive talent in pursuit of a Big East Tournament berth


Erin Henze

The Demons celebrate a set win at McGrath-Philips during DePaul’s Invitational Tournament.

DePaul women’s volleyball is looking to bounce back after last season that saw them  deal with injuries and adversity and finish eighth in the Big East standings. The Blue Demons will look to a young core to right the ship in 2023.

“I think we are in a rebuilding phase right now, in a cultural rebuilding phase which is really cool to be a part of,” said first year assistant coach Maddie Beal. “We have been working a lot this offseason with the girls on a ton of things to get better and rewrite our path so we can hang some banners.”

A recent acquisition for the team was the transfer of freshman outside hitter Yagmur Yavuz from Rutgers University. Yavuz will add some much needed size and power on offense to a defensively heavy roster. 

Yavuz is a three time European Volleyball Confederation champion, and was also an attendee for the European Olympic Festival in 2022. 

“She joined us in January before winter quarter started, so she had a chance to be seamlessly added to the team,” said head coach Marie Zidek. “My staff did a great job of onboarding her, and she is going to be a key piece to our future for sure.”

DePaul will also look to many new faces to add depth to its current roster, familiar faces to help establish a system of play, as well as set the standard of the program for newcomers. 

“We are returning our big leader, three time Big East all conference member, junior Jill Presley and then we return our other key player at libero, junior Rachel Krasowski,” said Zidek. “Those two have really anchored our system for the past three years. With that we also return our fifth year senior, Bailey Nelson as well as all of our ball control with sophomore Maggie Jones, junior Phoenix Lee and junior Ashley Cudiamat.”

Zidek believes that added depth and being more well rounded will lead to its success in the fall. Many undergraduates on the team have ample match experience and will allow DePaul to implement their fast paced system, no matter who is on the court. 

“We are leaving the spring now a more complete team, we are deeper in every position than we were in the fall,” Zidek said. “I think that is going to pay dividends in the fall, because in a 30 match season, adversity strikes, and you have a roster that is trained to absorb it and still put their best foot forward.”

Junior libero Rachel Krasowski believes that the 2022 season was an opportunity for players to step into leadership roles despite their regression from the 2021 campaign.

“2022 was a big growing year for us,” Krasowski said. “We graduated six or seven seniors the year prior, so I think a lot of that had to do with people stepping up to the plate and leadership roles that they did not have the year prior I think it obviously was not our best year, especially going from fourth in the conference to not having the best season in the fall, but I genuinely think it helped us be more hungry for the coming season.”

Despite the vibrant optimism that many in the program have in anticipation for the following season, Zidek knows that there are some glaring holes that have to be filled before being able to beat the highest echelon in the Big East.

DePaul’s highly effective defense and serving would define them as a scrappier team than ones with high octane offenses. This will allow DePaul to maintain control of the ball during a hectic rally, but without being able to secure the kill, they will be unable to capitalize on long rallies. 

“In the rally scoring era, you have to kill the ball, it is not rocket science,” Zidek said. “So we are going to need our arms to show up. We are going to need our defense and servers that are playing at a really high level right now. We have been known as a little bit more as a scrappy type team who makes it hard to kill on. We just now have to respond with our own kills. 

The goals for this year’s program are very high but quite achievable if the offense is able to perform at the level of the defense. With the help of  newly acquired firepower, it is more possible that DePaul will make it to the Big East Tournament. 

“I think the expectation for us and a big goal for us is to get back to the Big East Tournament,” Zidek said. “We were first time Big East Tournament attendees in 2021, and that was a big breakthrough for our program.

Krasowski sees this as a great opportunity for DePaul to make the Big East Tournament, and thinks added motivation of the previous season’s shortcomings will fuel the team late into the coming season. 

“I think we just needed that taste of reality last fall, and just realized that this is how the Big East rolls in volleyball,” Krasowski said. “We do not want to have that type of season again, and having our coaches vocalize that as well makes it feel like more of a collective feeling.”

With volleyball season starting up in late August, DePaul has until then to develop its offense, solidify their defense and begin their pursuit of a Big East Tournament spot.