For the second time on their trip to New Jersey, Marquette had to go to five sets to pick up a win and stay undefeated in the Big East.
Marquette's match against Seton Hall was a bit of a back and forth affair, so when the Pirates took the fourth set to force a fifth, it wasn't terribly surprising. Yesterday against Rutgers was a different story. Marquette dropped the first two sets to put themselves on the brink of their first Big East loss before rallying to win the next three and take the 3-2 (22-25, 28-30, 25-19, 25-17, 15-10) match victory. Marquette is now 17-3 on the season and a perfect 7-0 in the Big East. They've now won four straight five set matches after dropping the first two they played this season.
Erin Lehman gave MU a 20-19 lead in the first set before Kylie Orr went banana sandwich for the Scarlet Knights. Orr contributed to five of RU's final six points of the set (five kills and a combo block with Sarah Schmid) as Rutgers took control and the first set. Marquette tried valiantly to avoid the 2-0 hole, avoiding set point four times and even having two chances at set point themselves before - SURPRISE - Orr had two kills and a combo block with Alex Jones to end the set.
Even as Marquette seemed to be in control of the third set, doubt started to creep in. Rutgers avoided set point on six consecutive points, but eventually ran out of luck as Holly Mertens cut the deficit in half with a kill. The Scarlet Knights had an early 4-3 lead in the fourth, but five kills from Lindsey Gosh helped Marquette build a lead and a service ace from Elizabeth Koberstein knotted the match at two sets each.
After being so close to a victory, Rutgers got sloppy. Two attack errors each from Orr and Meghan Stephenson helped Marquette build a 7-2 lead before three straight service aces from Rachel Stier pushed the lead to 8. From there it was easy sailing to Kelsey Mattai's kill for match point.
Mertens led MU with a career high 23 kills. Almost more impressive than that career best mark for Mertens is that she did it while hitting .410. Rutgers knew it was coming and still couldn't do much about it. Koberstein had an outstanding 61 assists to help keep her Big East assists average lead over RU's Stephanie Zielinski. Gosh was outstanding for MU on both sides of her game, picking up a double-double for the second straight match with 11 kills and 12 digs.
Up Next: Cincinnati comes to the Al McGuire Center on Friday night. The Bearcats are 6-2 in Big East play, but 8-13 overall. We'll try to make sense of that later this week.