It took a lot of effort from a number of different Marquette players, but the Golden Eagles finally came away with a five set win over Central Arkansas on Saturday afternoon, 25-23, 23-25, 23-25, 25-20, and 15-11.
Nothing came easy for either side in the first three matches. Not only did they all end in the same 25-23 score with the Sugar Bears taking a 2-1 advantage, but there was a combined 35 ties. With that many ties, the 12 lead changes in the first three sets almost seems too small of a number. Marquette took the advantage in the first set with a 10-4 run to close things out and rally back from a 16-13 deficit. The two teams had identical hitting percentages in the next two sets, both at .250 in the second and .242 in the third. Marquette gave away a 20-19 lead in the second set to let UCA tie the match at 1 and the Sugar Bears pushed MU to the brink of defeat in the third when they scored the last two points of the set to pull away from Marquette.
Things changed in the fourth set, as the Golden Eagles needed a win to force a decisive fifth set. Those ties? Not so much any more. There were only three ties in the fourth set and no lead changes. MU started out hot with a 7-2 early advantage and had to weather a Sugar Bear storm midway through the match, as things were knotted up as late as 17 all. But they did force the fifth set, and Autumn Bailey got MU off on the right foot in that one, posting kills on three of Marquette's first four points. MU would eventually take an 8-3 advantage in the deciding set and roll to victory from there.
Lindsey Gosh was the standout for MU, posting 17 kills, all in the first four sets. Gosh hit .421 for the match and had five service aces with her powerful left handed jumping serve, including match point. Bailey continued her strong play to open her collegiate career with 15 kills and 11 digs. Elizabeth Koberstein had a double-double as well, posting 54 assists on 64 MU kills and adding 11 digs. MU had 18 blocks on the day to just three from UCA, including eight from redshirt freshman Jackie Kocken alone. Central Arkansas was led by 13 kills each from Jessica Nagy and Heather Schnars.
How about some post match comments from head coach Bond Shymansky?
Up Next: A rare midweek game awaits the Golden Eagles as they travel north to face UW-Green Bay. The Phoenix are led by former MU assistant Michaela Franklin, who took the head coaching job in Green Bay in the offseason.