Struggling DePaul poses late season threat

MU swept Blue Demons earlier this season.

Andrew Goldstein, andrew.goldstein@marquette.edu

The DePaul Blue Demons volleyball team is 2-9 in conference play and is only a game away from last place in the BIG EAST. DePaul has lost eight of their last nine matches and hasn’t logged back-to-back conference wins since October of 2011.

They’re also one of the most dangerous opponents that Marquette will play all year.

This is according to Marquette head coach Ryan Theis, who sounded more wary of DePaul than almost any other opponent in recent memory, and he’s not alone.

“The first thing that Villanova’s coach said to me when we played each other on Saturday was that (DePaul) is so much better than their record,” Theis said.

Theis’ caution is well-founded because the Blue Demons have been giving some of the premiere teams in the BIG EAST all that they can handle. Four out of the Blue Demons’ five previous losses have been in five sets, and two of those close losses were against the conference-leading Creighton Bluejays and the second place Villanova Wildcats. DePaul also defeated fourth place Xavier back in September.

Marquette swept the Blue Demons when the two teams met Sept. 26, but Theis said that he feels fortunate to have won that quickly.

“They’ve been giving other BIG EAST teams fits,” Theis said. “Hopefully our team understands that they are not somebody you can take lightly.”

DePaul has been especially lethal from the service line; they average a BIG EAST-best 1.73 aces per set. However, they leave much to be desired on the defensive side of the court, as BIG EAST opponents have hit a staggering .275 against them.

This match will be a good chance for Marquette’s offense to show what it’s capable of. Redshirt freshman Taylor Louis can be expected to get her share of kills, but Marquette’s success will depend upon getting offensive output from other sources. If junior Joy Miley or redshirt junior Meghan Niemann can chip in 10 or 12 kills per match and a .300 hitting percentage to complement Louis’ production, Marquette will be on the right track to pick up their sixth consecutive victory.

Opening serve for this match will be at 7 p.m. Saturday night. Paid subscription is required to watch the game through DePaul’s website, but free stat tracking is available on both depaulbluedemons.com and gomarquette.com.