By: Ryan Hartwig (@RyanHartwig)
CHICAGO (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – Green Bay (8-10, 3-2 HL) jumped out to a 2-0 lead and made an inspiring comeback attempt in the deciding fifth set, but it wasn’t quite enough as DePaul (15-3, 1-3 BIG EAST) held on for a 3-2 victory on Tuesday night at the McGrath-Phillips Arena in the final non-conference match for both teams.
The Phoenix looked to be down and out in the fifth, trailing 10-3, but an 8-1 run fueled by four Shannon Hurley (Connellsville, Pa.) kills helped the relentless road team tie things up at 11-11. Another Hurley kill followed by a Blue Demons’ error gave Green Bay its first lead of the set at 13-12, but the home team rattled off the final three points of the match to secure the victory (22-25, 25-27, 25-17, 25-17, 15-13) and improve to a perfect 14-0 in non-conference play.
“This match really pumps me up,” Green Bay head coach Michaela Franklin said. “I feel like we got our identity back tonight. I told our team in that fifth set that if you want to do this you’ve got to believe, and I felt like our focus really shifted to competing instead of worrying about making errors. I’m proud of the way we fought back and how we gave ourselves a chance, but we just couldn’t quite close it out. Give DePaul a lot of credit – they really came at us in sets three and four. It was a fun, intense match, and I’m excited about our team going forward.”
Hurley finished the match with 18 kills, five of which came in the abbreviated fifth set. Senior Leah Van Zeeland (Kaukauna, Wis.) posted a career-high 21 kills in the loss and added 10 digs for her seventh double-double of the year. Sophomore Emily Riese (Fond du Lac, Wis.) also recorded her seventh double-double of the season with 51 assists and 14 digs.
DePaul’s Abbie Fleener tied Van Zeeland for the match high with 21 kills, hitting .425 for the night. The Blue Demons recorded 14 service aces in the win, including five by senior Vesela Zapryanova, who also finished with 11 kills and 16 digs.
Green Bay came out strong in the match, out-hitting DePaul .324 to .167 in the first two sets en route to opening up the 2-0 advantage.
DePaul led 20-18 lead late in the opening set following a 4-0 run, but kills by Hurley and Van Zeeland knotted things back up at 20-20. The two teams traded points until it was 22-22 before Green Bay closed with three straight to earn the 25-22 win. Hurley and Van Zeeland had five kills apiece to pace the Phoenix in the opener.
Green Bay was able to fight off a DePaul set point chance (25-24) in the second before winning the exciting, back-and-forth set 27-25.
The Phoenix led 13-8 early and 19-16 late in the second set, but back-to-back service aces by DePaul’s Colleen Smith capped off a 4-0 run that put the home team back in front 20-19. Green Bay took four of the next five points to earn its first set point opportunity at 24-21, but four consecutive DePaul kills made it 25-24. Hurley helped Green Bay shift the momentum one last time, finishing things off with a kill and block to close out the 27-25 win.
Set three was controlled by the Blue Demons, who led by as many as nine (20-11) before finishing with the 25-17 victory. Fleener had a strong third set for DePaul, recording four kills and four blocks in the win.
Van Zeeland’s career-high 21st kill cut DePaul’s five-point lead to three (20-17) late in set four, but Green Bay wouldn’t score again as the Blue Demons took the final five points in the 25-17 triumph. Zapryanova had four kills and five digs in the fourth set.
Phoenix senior Monica Anderson (Cottage Grove, Wis.), who was tabbed as the Horizon League’s Scholar-Athlete of the Month for August/September on Tuesday, finished the match with 11 kills.
Green Bay returns home this weekend for the first time in nearly three weeks when it hosts Horizon League foes Youngstown State and Cleveland State at the Kress Center. The Phoenix welcomes the Penguins on Friday at 7 p.m. and the Vikings on Saturday at 4 p.m.
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