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10.24.11 Weekend Recap: Maintain Your Lead Edition

Men's soccer took a trip to South Orange, New Jersey, on Saturday afternoon for a match against Seton Hall. The Pirates came in to the match without a point in Big East play, and 90 minutes later, nothing had changed. Seton Hall decided to go back to Anthony Reichwaldt in goal, and that was a terrible decision. Reichwaldt gave up goals on Marquette's first three shots, all by freshman striker C. Nortey, as Seton Hall fell to Marquette 3-0.

Paul Dillon got things started for Marquette about 110 seconds into the match when he fired a kick towards the Seton Hall net. The always active Nortey timed the flight right and headed it just right so Reichwaldt had zero chance of making a play on it for what would be the game winner. Headers from Nortey on free kicks by Calum Mallace in the 14th and 27th minutes brought the game to it's eventual final score.

With the win, Marquette clinches their third straight appearance in the Big East Tournament. The Golden Eagles currently sit in first place in the Blue Division, but on Wednesday, they travel to play the team that currently sits in second place and carries the ranking of #1 in the country, the Connecticut Huskies.

Let's go to the highlights!

After the jump: Two women's volleyball matches and important breaking news in the volleyball standings department!

Things got off to a poor start for the volleyball team on Friday night, as they dropped the first two sets to Seton Hall, 25-22 and 25-14. If their .102 hitting percentage in the first set wasn't terrible enough, they committed 13 errors in the second set which resulted in hitting -.122. Intermission turned things around for the Golden Eagles. Ciara Jones fired off back to back kills to tie the third set at 19 and chipped in a block to give Marquette a lead before the Pirates committed 3 straight attack errors to give MU the 25-22 win. Seton Hall tried to put things away in the fourth set, opening a 10-4 lead to start. But you don't get to lead the Big East on luck and Marquette rallied to tie it at 16 and tied the match at 2 with a 25-19 win.

The fifth set is where things got interesting. Ashley Beyer had 4 kills and a service ace to power the Golden Eagles and Seton Hall's coach, Kris Zeiter, was ejected when his team was down 9-6. The ejection gave Marquette a free point and from there, the 15-12 set victory and 3-2 match victory was academic. Beyer recorded a double double with a team high 16 kills and 11 digs. Setter Chelsea Heier had a career high 4 kills to go along with her 49 assists.

Sunday afternoon against Rutgers brought more of the same problems for Marquette. Things started off okay with an early 16-13 lead. But Rutgers rallied, taking a 19-17 lead before taking the first set, 25-22. Marquette couldn't put solid strikes on the ball repeatedly in the second set as Rutgers hit .583 to take a 25-17 win.

During intermission, Marquette coach Bond Shymansky and his staff came out of the locker room with about 4 minutes left. The team didn't emerge until intermission was nearly over, and whatever was said in that room, it worked. The third set performances by both teams were almost complete reversals of the second set as Marquette reeled off 7 straight points in one stretch and Rutgers was firing balls all over the Al McGuire Center and had no one going after lightly hit balls on two consecutive volleys and looked generally lost overall. .524 hitting from Marquette and .034 hitting from Rutgers got the Golden Eagles on the board at 2-1 for the match with the 25-11 win.

Rutgers opened up the 4th with a 7-1 lead, but the wheels fell off for the Scarlet Knights. Marquette went on a 21-5 tear with Rutgers committing errors all over the floor to take a 22-12 lead. Rutgers managed an attempt at keeping it close with 5 straight late points, but Marquette evened the match with a 25-18 set.

It was roughly at this point that I realized that Holly Mertens was going NUTS for Marquette. Her 10th kill of the match came in the fourth set and her outstanding play continued in the fifth. Mertens landed all 5 of her attacks in the final set for points in a back and forth affair to end up leading Marquette in kills with a career high 15 kills. Beyer had the final kill and Rutgers couldn't control a Danielle Carlson serve, giving Marquette the 3-2 match win in a 16-14 final set.

Ciara Jones was the only other Golden Eagle with double digit kills, and her 4th kill of the match made her the 11th player in Marquette history with 1,000 kills and the second to reach that milestone this season after teammate Ashley Beyer.

Marquette received an important piece of volleyball standings news over the weekend. Going into the weekend, Marquette and Louisville were both tied atop the Big East standings with undefeated records. But Sunday afternoon brought Pitt to the YUM! Center and the Panthers snared a 3-1 (21-25, 25-19, 26-24, 25-20) win over the Cardinals to leave Marquette alone in first place. Marquette will play Louisville in Kentucky in the last game of a 4 match road trip that starts in Pittsburgh this weekend.