We already talked about the top ten men's soccer match up between #9/#7 Marquette and #2/#2 Connecticut yesterday, so I'll just point you to that and remind you that the match starts tomorrow night at 7pm at Valley Fields.
Let's get to the rest of the weekend's action!
Coach Bond Shymansky's squad doubled the number of points they received in the AVCA poll from last week, pushing themselves up to 12 points. It's still a long road to travel to increase that number by tenfold in order to crack the top 25, but one step at a time. Marquette is all over the conference leader boards, and I don't just mean the tie with 3-0 Seon Hall for first place in the standings. MU is the best hitting team in the Big East (.256), fourth best in assists (12.80/set), and third best in kills (13.89/set). Danielle Carlson (3rd, .363) and Kelsey Mattai (5th, .354) are both in the top five in individual hitting percentage, while Elizabeth Koberstein is second in assists (11.22/set), and Lindsey Gosh is first in service aces (0.52/set). Mattai pops back up on the defensive side of the ball, ranking seventh in blocks (1.08/set) and Julie Jeziorowski is seventh in digs (5.02/set).
The weekend gets started tonight at 7pm against Pittsburgh (10-8, 1-3 Big East) at the Al McGuire Center. If you'd like a free hot dog, be sure to check out the @muathletics or @MarquetteVB Twitter accounts for a voucher at some point today. The Panthers have dropped six of their last eight matches and haven't played a home match in over a month. Sophomore Jessica Wynn leads the Pitt offense with 2.38 kills per set. Senior libero Margy Acton anchors the back line with 5.22 digs/set, which is good enough for fourth best in the Big East.
South Florida (10-7, 2-2 Big East) comes into Milwaukee for a match on Sunday afternoon at 2pm. The Bulls are an outstanding defensive team, ranking fourth in the Big East in opponent's hitting percentage, digs and blocks, and that defense has them just two wins away from matching their win total from all of 2011. Seniors Caitlin Breen (1.09 blocks/set, 6th in BE) and Claudia Cabrera (4.86 digs/set, 8th in BE) are the driving force behind the defense. Sophomore Valerie El Houssine was named to the preseason all conference team and leads the USF offense with 2.72 kills per set.
Yesterday we discussed how close the women are to a fourth consecutive division title. If Marquette can continue their strong offensive and defensive performances (second in the Big East in goals, third in goals allowed), the division title will be clinched sooner than we think. Maegan Kelly's hat trick against Cincinnati jumped her up to seventh best in the conference in points (16) and into a six way tie for ninth best in goals. Also tied for ninth and the team lead in goals is Kate Reigle and Taylor Madigan. Marquette heads into the weekend on a 6 match winning streak and carrying a shutout streak of longer than 478 minutes.
First up on the east coast road trip is a matinee at 2 pm Central against Providence (8-5-1, 3-3-0 Big East), which means I will have to mentally struggle with referring to a team of women as "the Friars." Providence broke a three match losing streak last time out with a 1-0 win over DePaul. Freshman (!) Catherine Zimmerman is eighth in the Big East in points on seven goals and one assist. Sophomore Jessica Goudreault has seen most of the time in net for the Friars and is eighth best in the Big East in goals-against average (0.95) and tenth best in save percentage (.771).
The weekend trip wraps up on Sunday afternoon at noon in Storrs as Marquette tries to hand losses to Connecticut's men's and women's teams. The Huskies (7-5-1, 3-3-0 Big East) can score (third most goals in the conference) but can't stop people from scoring (fifth worst goals against). Senior Danielle Schulmann (9G, 7A) carries most of the scoring burden for UConn, but that means she's one of the most prolific scorers in the Big East (T-2 in goals, 1st in assists). Junior Leigh-Ann Jaggon has gotten most of the keeper duties recently, but freshman Allison Saucier has played more minutes than Jaggon this season.