Autumn Bailey, Meghan Niemann, and Nele Barber all cracked double digits in kills as Marquette defeated St. John's on Sunday afternoon, 25-23, 25-16, 25-23.
The win clinches at least a share of the Big East regular season title for the Golden Eagles, as they have a two game lead on Xavier in the standings with only two matches left in league play for both squads. Conveniently, Marquette will host Xavier on Friday night, giving them the opportunity to lock up the league title and the number 1 seed in the Big East tournament in Omaha over Thanksgiving weekend. Not only is it Marquette volleyball's first Big East regular season title, but it's also the first conference regular season title that Marquette has ever won.
"We really want to work hard this week and win it outright and take things forward to go to new heights for our program," head coach Bond Shymansky said after the match. "This is another great accomplishment but now winning the Big East tournament needs to be another accomplishment and going deeper in the NCAA tournament. There are plenty of higher goals that we can set that need to be met."
In their first meeting this season, Marquette managed to take away Aleksandra Wachowicz, owner of the Big East's third best kills average, from the Red Storm attack. This time around, Marquette focused on their other net presence. While Wachowicz went off for 16 kills while hitting .310, Marquette limited Karin Palgutova, the Big East's kills leader, to six kills on 28 attacks for a hitting percentage of .107. What makes that pretty impressive from Marquette's point of view is that Palgutova only committed three errors, meaning that Marquette was doing an excellent job of first getting underneath any of Palgutova's attacks, and then making sure that they went back over the net to St. John's.
Bailey led Marquette in kills with 18 kills, while Barber had 12 kills while hitting .476 and Niemann had 10 kills and a crazy hitting percentage of .643. Elizabeth Koberstein had 41 assists to boost her league leading average of 11.98 assists/set.
Up Next: Did I mention that match against second place Xavier that will clinch the Big East regular season title outright? It's on Friday night at 7pm. Students who come in groups of four get a free pizza!