Since they're playing two matches at home this weekend, we'll start with Coach Markus Roeders' crew. Last week, I thought I had cracked the code of the Big East and believed that Marquette had clinched a spot in the Big East Championship. Turns out the schedules are all wonky this year. I'll let the league office explain:
The top four teams from each division will qualify. The next two teams, regardless of division, will be at-large selections to the 10-team championship. With some league teams playing 11 conference games and some playing 10 conference games, each division will be ordered on a points per game average. The top three teams in each division earn first-round byes to the quarterfinals. The first-round and quarterfinal games are conducted on the campuses of the higher-seeded teams.
Translation: I'm waiting until BigEast.org tells me any further post season information. In things I can tell you for sure, Maegan Kelly has used a three match point streak to vault herself to up to fifth most in the Big East. Even if Kelly keeps up her torrid pace, I'm guessing that she's not going to be able to eliminate the gap between her 21 points (6G, 9A) and the 36 points (15G, 6A) already scored by Georgetown's Daphne Corboz. In fact, I'm going to bet that the league office has already engraved Corboz's name onto the BE Offensive POY trophy.
St. John's (6-7-1, 2-4-1 Big East) is the first opponent of the weekend, as they kick off with MU at 7pm tonight in the Valley. The only member of the Red Storm that pops up on the Big East's stat leaderboards is freshman keeper Ellen Conway, whose 62 saves are the fourth most in the league. If how Marquette did against Cincinnati's Kristina Utley and her Big East leading save total is any indication, it's probably going to be a long night for Conway. Then again, Conway does have the eighth best save percentage, so perhaps not. Freshman Emily Cubbage is the leading scorer for SJU, with three goals and two assists.
Sunday afternoon brings Marquette's final regular season Big East contest against Syracuse (8-4-2, 5-1-1 Big East) before the Orange depart for the ACC. Syracuse currently sits in second place in the American Division and will face off with third place USF tonight before coming to Milwaukee. Alyscha Mottershead (4G, 2A) and Jenna Rickan (2G, 6A) are tied for the team lead with 10 points each. Rickan's six assists are good enough for a tie for sixth most in the Big East. Brittany Anghel was named Preseason Co-Goalkeeper of the Year before the season, but has not lived up to expectations. She's 10th in the conference in both goals-against average (1.02) and save percentage (.769).
The men's team has a chance to cement their position as a top five team in the country as they take on #10/#14 Georgetown (11-2-1, 2-2-0 Big East) on Saturday afternoon starting at noon Central time. The Hoyas' Brandon Allen (20 points, 2nd best in the Big East) has taken over the offensive mantle from Steve Neumann, but Neumann is still a force to be reckoned with (13 points, T-8). Keeper Tomas Gomez is no slouch in net (0.72 GAA, .812 SV%), but he will have to play a heck of a match to keep pace with Marquette's Charlie Lyon.
The New Jersey schools are on the volleyball team's agenda for the weekend as they look to remain the only unbeaten team in conference matches. First up is Seton Hall (15-4, 3-3 Big East) on Saturday at 1pm Central time. The Pirates' three conference losses have all been in their last three matches. SHU is excellent on both sides of the ball, boasting the fifth best team hitting percentage and the second best opponent's hitting percentage. Junior Alyssa Warren is the standout, sitting at third best in the Big East with 5.33 digs/set. Sophomore Stacey Manthorpe is the best of four Pirates averaging more than two kills per set, coming in at 2.94/set. Stacey's twin sister Shelbey is also one of those four and SHU's leading setter with 7.64 assists/set.
24 hours later, Marquette makes the 25 or so mile trip south to face Rutgers (15-6, 1-5 Big East). The Scarlet Knights return home after going 1-3 over the last two weekends against Big East competition. Rutgers averages fourth best in the league in assists and third in both kills and digs, but it hasn't translated to success against Big East teams. Freshman Sarah Schmid is third in the Big East behind only MU's Kelsey Mattai and Danielle Carlson in hitting percentage. Schmid also has the eighth best kills average in the conference, while freshman Alex Lassa sports the third best average. It will be interesting to see who comes out of the match with the most assists, as MU's Elizabeth Koberstein and RU's Stephanie Zielinski are 1-2 in assist average and are separated by just one-tenth of an assist per set.