Women's Volleyball: The 2012 Ambassador Hotel Golden Eagle Classic

Kelsey Mattai (10) leads Marquette in hitting percentage so far this season. (via Maggie Casey/MarquetteImages.com)

Hmm. Perhaps I should stop referring to previewing all of the weekend's events as tradition around here. Here we are again, with a reason to talk about things on Thursday. In this case, as it was last week, volleyball starts a tournament bright and early on Friday. The difference here is that I will be LIVE at the match tomorrow morning, so I'm definitely not going to have a chance to chat about it.

Marquette (4-1) hosts the Ambassador Hotel Golden Eagle Classic this weekend. There are four other teams invited, and Marquette will play all four, two on Friday and one each on Saturday and Sunday. As far as the Golden Eagles go, they are all over the top of the Big East statistical charts. Kelsey Mattai (.425) and Danielle Carlson (.374) are both in the top 10 in hitting percentage, Elizabeth Koberstein leads the Big East in assists (11.5 assists/set), Lindsey Gosh has the top mark in service aces (0.94/set), and Julie Jeziorowski is fourth in digs (5.38/set). As a team, Marquette is tops in both kills (14.88/set) and assists (13.62/set), and they come in second in hitting percentage by just 1 one-thousandth of a point, .252 to Louisville's .253.

Hit the jump, and we'll talk about the other four teams in the Golden Eagle Classic, starting with tomorrow morning's opposition!

Eastern Illinois (2-4) gets the early morning wake up call to face off with Marquette. The Panthers have yet to play a home match this season, but they have managed a win over a Big East team when they started off their season by ruining DePaul's own tournament. Three Panthers average more than 2.24 kills per set and one of them, freshman Abby Saalfrank, is also second on the team in assists. Fellow freshman Stephanie Wallace is the defensive ace, averaging 4.29 digs per set.

Friday evening's opponent is the first of two ranked opponents for Marquette on the weekend. #23 Michigan comes into Milwaukee after running off seven straight wins to start the season, including four sweeps. Junior Lexi Erwin leads the Wolverines' offense, averaging 4.42 kills/set. Sophomore Lexi Dannemiller averages 1.26 kills per set and tacks on 11.17 assists to lead the team in that category and nearly 2 digs as well. Freshman Tiffany Morales anchors the back line for Michigan with 3.88 digs per set.

Marquette changes conferences to the ACC for Saturday's match with Wake Forest (3-1). The Demon Deacons lost their opener at High Point, but won all three matches in their own Deacon Invitational. Four Deacons average 2 kills or more per set, led by senior Andrea Beck at 4.17. Beck is also the team leader in hitting percentage at an outstanding .417. Sophomore Danae Rosendall adds 10.61 assists to lead Wake Forest and there's no real standout on defense with four players averaging between 2.17 and 2.67 digs per set. It's worth noting that Rosendall is one of those four, though.

#25 Northern Iowa is the second ranked opponent for the Golden Eagles. The Panthers (4-3) lost last night at #18 Iowa State and will need a strong showing in Milwaukee to maintain their ranking next week. Seniors Amy Braun and Megan Lehman lead UNI with more than 3 kills per set each. Junior Molly Turk generates chances for the Panthers with 11.11 assists/set and senior Candice Burke holds things down on defense, averaging more than four digs per set.

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