2013 NCAA Tournament Opening Round: vs Louisville (23-7, 18-0 AAC)
When: Friday, December 6, 2013, at 4:30pm Central
Where: Huff Hall in Champaign, Illinois
Audio/Visual: Illinois is a professionally run outfit, even if they are a Big Ten school, so there will be FREE STREAMING VIDEO for you. Live stats will be here.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB
It used to be that when discussing Big East volleyball, I would end up using the phrase "Marquette hasn't lost to a team not named Louisville since" on a regular basis.
But it's a different Big East now, and while Marquette brings a 15-1 record and two conference trophies to the 2013 NCAA tournament, the four match losing streak against Louisville still burns in the minds of Marquette's players.
Senior libero Julie Jeziorowski went one step further, addressing the change in conference and telling the Trib, "I don’t want to put any doubt in anyone’s mind that because the Big East is different is why we won. I want people to know that we won because we are a better team and we won because we worked hard to win, not because the conference changed."
They're fired up to not only prove they deserve the titles that they earned this season, but to also prove that they deserve the national seed that was denied to the Golden Eagles, currently ranked #8 in the NCAA RPI. Said head coach Bond Shymansky upon seeing Marquette's place in the tournament, "The selection committee has shown in the past 10 years that if you have a top-10 RPI, you get a seed,. I don’t know why we were omitted from that rule. I’m not entitled to an explanation, but I think our team is."
Turning our attention to the Cardinals, they've taken a slight step back following the departures of seniors Lola Arslanbekova and Gwen Rucker. The slight step? They're not ranked. They have seven losses on the season, but five of them came against teams that qualified for the NCAA tournament, and four of those teams are amongst the top 16 seeds.
Louisville reeled off a perfect 18-0 record in the American Athletic Conference, winning matches both home and away against every team in the league. The Cardinals picked up the AAC's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by winning the regular season title, and they locked that bad boy up with three matches left to play. UL comes in riding a 13 match winning streak, and they've won 21 of their last 22 matches. Honestly, I can't believe that they're not ranked.
Louisville is led by 5'9" freshman outside hitter Maya McClendon, who averages 3.13 kills/set and 3.16 digs/set. Senior Emily Juhl is right behind McClendon on the attack with 3.07 kills per set. Sophomore setter Katie George only averages 9.20 assists, but senior setter Hannah Kvitle chips in 2.25 helpers to make for a potent offense. Senior Caitlin Welch was named AAC Libero of the Year and ranks 41st in the country with 4.92 digs in each set.
The winner of Marquette/Louisville will face the winner of #13 seed and host Illinois vs Morehead State. That match will take place tomorrow at 7pm Central in Huff Hall.