11.22 Weekend Preview

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Volleyball has a chance to lock up the Big East regular season title all to themselves, and women's basketball hosts #2 Duke.

Women's Volleyball (21-5, 13-1 Big East)

It's time for Marquette volleyball to finish putting their stamp on this season. They've already locked up at least a share of the Big East regular season title, and with a win in tonight's match against Xavier, they'll lock up the outright title and clinch the #1 seed in the Big East tournament next weekend in Omaha. If you want to add a national outlook to the weekend, the America Volleyball Coaches' Association has tabbed Marquette on their watch list for potential hosts for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. MU has made the tournament each of the last two years, and getting a chance to play at home in the opening rounds of the national championship tournament would be quite the advantage for the Golden Eagles.

The Golden Eagles already lead the conference in the three most important categories: hitting percentage, assists, and last but not least, kills. On an individual level, there are Marquette players everywhere in the top ten of various categories. Meghan Niemann has the third best hitting percentage, Autumn Bailey is second in kills, Elizabeth Koberstein leads the conference in assists and ranks 5th in the country as well, Lindsey Gosh is the most lethal player on the service stripe in the Big East, and Julie Jeziorowski, Marquette's all time digs leader, ranks 5th in the league in her specialty.

Match 27: vs Xavier (20-9, 11-3 Big East)

When: Friday, November 22, at 7pm
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: FREE VIDEO STREAMING as always for home games. Live stats will be here.
Special Promotions: Students attending in groups of 4 will get a FREE pizza from Pizza Hut!
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

The Musketeers are sitting in second place in the league right now. They could still finish the season anywhere from the #1 seed in the Big East tournament or down to the 4th and final tournament slot. The field will definitely be Marquette, Xavier, Butler, and Creighton, but the order of finish will largely be determined by this match between Marquette and Xavier.

Senior middle blocker Alex Smith is one of the 11 players to have been named Big East Player of the Week this season, and she's made her mark through accuracy. She's averaging 2.59 kills per set, which is unspectacular, but she is hitting a league best .405. Freshman Abbey Bessler is the Musketeers' kills leader, averaging 3.77 per set, which is fourth best in the Big East. Alex Smith's sister Aubree is the only setter in the conference that can even see Marquette's Elizabeth Koberstein in front of the rest of the pack, averaging 10.84 assists per set. Bessler and Aubree Smith both contribute on the back line, but it's Sarah Brown that leads XU with 4.03 digs per set.

Match 28: vs Butler (23-6, 10-4 Big East)

When: Saturday, November 23, at 7pm
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: FREE VIDEO STREAMING as always for home games. Live stats will be here.
Special Promotions: It's Senior Night, and Marquette will have a post-match ceremony honoring their six seniors: Julie Jeziorowski, Elizabeth Koberstein, Catherine Mayer, Courtney Mrotek, Casey Read and Rachel Stier.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

Like their newcomer counterparts, the Bulldogs have also qualified for the Big East tournament, and also like Xavier, they still haven't decided what seed they will end up with. They'll play DePaul tonight before heading up I-94 for tomorrow's contest. If they needed any more motivation than tournament seeding, then I'm sure that knowing that Marquette was the last team to beat them in a set will occupy their minds. The Bulldogs have won 15 straight sets since falling 3-1 to the Golden Eagles on November 1st.

Butler is a multi-faceted team. Senior setter Morgan Peterson and junior middle blocker Erica Stahl have both been named Big East Player of the Week, but it's junior outside hitter Belle Obert that's the standout. Obert has been named to the Big East Honor Roll four times this season, more than anyone else except for MU's Elizabeth Koberstein and Xavier's Abbey Bessler. She's the Bulldogs' kills leader and ranks 6th in the conference with 3.38 kills/set. Obert also does a little work on the defensive side, averaging just over two digs and one block per set. Brooke Ruffolo anchors the BU backline with 4.73 digs per set, good enough for fourth best in the conference.

Women's Basketball (4-0)

Game 5: vs #2/#2 Duke (4-0)

When: Sunday, November 24, at 3pm
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: No video streaming here, because this one's on Fox Sports 1! Live stats will be here.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Marquette has won four straight to open the season, and they've been proficient on the offensive end to do it. The 88 points per game and average scoring margin of +22 makes that obvious, but they're efficient, too. The Golden Eagles are scoring 1.10 points per possession through their first four contests.

Everything starts up front with the Big East's reigning Player of the Week, Katherine Plouffe. The 6'3" senior forward is averaging a double-double with 20.3 points and 13.0 rebounds, and has recorded a double-double in each game for Marquette. Senior guard Katie Young isn't that far behind Plouffe, averaging 15.3 points and 9.8 rebounds. The biggest reason for Marquette's offensive output? It might be the 6.8 assists per game from sophomore point guard Brooklyn Pumroy, who also has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.7/1.

Duke is, well, Duke. They return all five starters and their top seven scorers from a team that went 33-3, won their fourth straight ACC regular season title, and reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. They were picked to win the ACC again this year by both the media and coaches' poll. On top of that, they're already 4-0 and were only kind of pushed in their opener on the road against #9 California, which the Blue Devils won by 12. They have an opponent in common with Marquette in Vanderbilt, and Duke came away with an 18 point win at home.

Seniors Tricia Liston and Chelsea Gray were named to the preseason all-ACC team along with junior Elizabeth Williams, and they are the Blue Devils' top three scorers and in that order, too. They all average more than 12 points a game, and two more Blue Devils average in double digits, too. Haley Peters is the lowest scoring of that five woman group, but she averages a double-double with 11.5 points and 10.0 rebounds. Gray takes care of the distribution for Duke, averaging 8.5 assists per game.

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