It took going to extra points on three of the four sets, but Marquette finally outlasted Butler on Friday night, 26-24, 30-28, 25-27, 25-23.
Nele Barber was a monster at the net for the Golden Eagles, recording a career high 23 kills, including 10 in the second set, three of which came after Butler tied the set at 24. Autumn Bailey added a not insignificant 22 kills, while Meghan Niemann had 11 kills as well. Butler was led by 14 kills from sophomore Mary Striedl.
Maggie Harbison was Marquette's nemesis in the first set, recording two kills after MU went up 24-22 to knot things up and force extra points. Barber came through with the next two points to put MU up 1-0.
Marquette opened up a 15-11 lead midway through the second set. Butler closed the gap to 19-18, but MU pushed the lead back to 24-20 and just needed one point to head to intermission up 2-0. But the Bulldogs scored the next four points to tie things at 24 points. Butler would answer two kills from Barber with one each from Belle Obert and Stephanie Kranda, and a service ace from Harbison put Butler at set point at 27-26. Butler would commit two errors, a handling error by Brooke Ruffolo and a attack error by Striedl, to put MU in the driver's seat, and finally, Lindsey Gosh was able to close things out with a kill.
Another tight set in the third led to MU taking a 24-22 advantage before Niemann committed a service error and Striedl recorded a kill to force more extra points. This time, Marquette was not as fortunate. A Morgan Peterson ace put MU behind the eight ball before Barber knotted it at 25. Kills from Kranda and Harbison gave the Bulldogs the third set and a flicker of life. It was the first set that Marquette had lost since falling 3-0 to Creighton on October 13, a streak of 14 straight sets.
The Golden Eagles built a 15-10 lead in the fourth set as Bailey went banana sandwich. The freshman from Canada tucked two blocks - one solo, one paired with Niemann - in between two kills and MU capped a 5-0 run with an ace from Gosh. But like a horror movie villain, Butler wasn't dead yet. They rallied to tie it at 18 and make things interesting down the stretch. Marquette got it to 24-21 before committing two errors instead of driving home match point, but Barber came through again, knocking down her 23rd kill of the match.
Elizabeth Koberstein had an admittedly extra point powered 56 assists in the match, which will boost her already incredible assist average even further. Both Koberstein and Bailey had a double-double with 12 and 13 digs respectively, but it was senior libero Julie Jeziorowski who led the MU defense with 19 digs.
Marquette moves to 8-1 in Big East play, and they caught a break towards their run towards a conference title, courtesy of Creighton's home loss to St. John's last night. Creighton suffered their first fifth set loss in D.J. Sokol Arena, and are now 0-60 all time when falling behind 0-2 at home.
Up Next: Marquette travels from Indianapolis to Cincinnati for a match against Xavier (16-8, 7-2 Big East) tonight at 6pm. As a result of the Bluejays suffering their third conference loss, this match now features the top two teams in the Big East.