Holly Mertens and Danielle Carlson both broke double digits in kills as Marquette beat Pittsburgh 3-1 in the opening round of the Big East volleyball championship. The Golden Eagles will face the South Florida Bulls, who scored the day's only upset by beating Notre Dame in four sets, in tomorrow afternoon's second semifinal match.
Your Marquette Golden Eagles owned the first set: Mertens tallied three consecutive kills to open the match and then Cat Mayer served an ace for the cherry on top. Pitt rallied to close the set to within 2 early, but Marquette rolled out to a 25-19 win in the first set.
The Panthers then got the ultimate pep talk between sets: they opened the second on a 7-1 run. Jessica Wynn, who leads her team in kills with an average 2.58 per set, blew up: she tallied 10 kills in the set with the final two coming when her team needed her most. Despite being down 12-19, Marquette chipped away at Pitt's lead until they were but a point behind after a Wynn attack error. However, Wynn redeemed herself: one kill got the Panthers to set point and the next gave them the set 25-22.
The third set was a nail biting back and forth affair. Marquette found itself up 13-10 after another Mayer ace and Pitt promptly erased it. Neither team would lead by more than three in the set, but the Golden Eagles reached set point first at 24-22. The Panthers got the next kill, but a Lindsey Gosh kill slammed the door shut on another Pitt run and won Marquette the set, 25-23.
In a must win scenario, Pitt scored the first two points of the set, but then allowed Marquette to build a 11-6 lead. The resilient Panthers fought back to trail 12-13 in what could have been the match's biggest point: both teams were all over the court to claim it and ultimately Pitt prevailed. However, it was the next point that was the match's turning point. The Panthers were issued a double contact violation and head coach Toby Rens earned himself a yellow card arguing with the referees. His team then dropped the next four points: instead of being within one, Pitt was now down five. When a call went in favor of his team at 13-17, Rens threw his leather folio to the court in mock surprise. His dramatics could not turn his team' around (nor apparently get him tossed). A Mertens kill ended Pitt's tournament and likely their season: Marquette won the set 25-19 and the match 3-1.
Julie Jeziorowski Digs Watch: Another reason to come out to the McGuire Center on Saturday: Jeziorowski notched 17 digs putting her three shy of the program record.