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11.8 Weekend Preview: A Changing Of The Guard

With the women's soccer semifinals preview going up yesterday, we're left with only men's soccer and women's volleyball to discuss today. Oh, and I guess there's a basketball game tonight. WHATEVER.

Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

#19/#10 Men's Soccer (10-4-2, 6-1-1 Big East)

As I laid out in the men's soccer scenarios post, it's very simple: Beat DePaul, and win the Big East regular season title for the second time in three seasons.

With his game winning goal last Saturday night, C. Nortey reignited his campaign for Offensive Player of the Year. His eight goals trails league leader David Goldsmith of Butler by three, but Nortey has the pocket ace of "five Big East game winning goals" to fall back on. If he were to put on a show against the Blue Demons, it would go a long way towards putting the former goalkeeper turned striker (no, seriously. Go read.) into the forefront of the conversation.

Of course, three of Nortey's game winners came in 1-0 matches, so Marquette has been more than slightly frustrating on the offensive end. Marquette hasn't had trouble distributing the ball for goals with two players in the top six in the league. Only Georgetown can also say that, and weirdly, they're doing it with a freshman and a senior, just like Marquette's Paul Dillon and Coco Navarro.

Match #17: at DePaul (4-11-2, 0-7-1 Big East)

When: Friday, November 8, at 12 pm Central
Where: Wish Field, in Chicago, Illinois
Audio/Visual: DePaul men's soccer qualifies as Premium Content, so you'll have to pay for video. Live stats will be here.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteSoccer

Oh, DePaul.

It's been all downhill for the Blue Demons ever since they went to a 2-2 draw with St. John's to open league play. Well, not all downhill. They had one last non-conference match to play, which ended as a 2-0 win over Loyola. But from there, it's been seven straight losses, including five shutouts, and they haven't managed two goals in a match since that opener. The most frustrating result was probably their 1-0 two overtime loss to a Providence side that was nationally ranked at the time.

Senior defender Art Garza is their leader in goals with three, and he only just hit that mark this past Saturday night. The Blue Demons do have six other players who have tallied two goals each, so they have been spreading what little offense they have around a bit. Senior keeper Eric Sorby has been trying his damnedest, I'll give him that. He has 81 saves, second most in the league, but he's let in 28 goals for a save percentage of just 74%. His goals against average of 1.67 is the second worst in the league, but at some point, this isn't his fault.

Volleyball (17-5, 9-1 Big East)

Missed it by THIS much.

I'm referring to Marquette and a spot in the AVCA top 25, of course. The Golden Eagles picked up 36 points in this week's polling of volleyball coaches across the country, which placed them at an unofficial 29th. That's what happens when you follow up a 3-0 weekend with two hard fought road wins against teams in the top half of your conference.

Speaking of those road wins, Nele Barber was named Freshman of the Week for the second straight week, making her the only freshman not named Autumn Bailey to win that conference award twice this season. Barber averaged 5.38 kills/set for the weekend, which is bordering on absurd. Bailey is still the team leader in that category, though, as she records kills at a pace of 4.10/set, second best in the Big East. Elizabeth Koberstein's assist rate is up to 11.86 per set, which has her ranked sixth in the country. One thing in the stat page that I continue to be fascinated by: Marquette leads the league in hitting percentage (.286), but has the worst opponent's hitting percentage (.222).

Match #23: vs Seton Hall (12-13, 3-7 Big East)

When: Friday, November 8, at 6pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: The video streaming is cleared out for the women's soccer semifinals, so you'll have to make do with just live stats for this one.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

The Pirates come in having lost three of their last four, with all three losses coming against conference foes and the win coming against NJIT. Other than that league record, they've really been playing things right down the middle, as they were 11-10 before their recent slide. SHU finds themselves three games back of the fourth and final Big East Tournament slot with six matches to play, so they're going to need to put something together soon if they want to have a chance at a trip to Omaha.

The one thing that Seton Hall can hang their collective hat on is blocks. The Pirates rank fourth in the league as a team with 2.51 per set, and they have two players, Ashani Rubin (1.22/set) and Amanda Hansen (1.00/set), ranked in the top 10 individually. Other than that, there's no one else who stands out amongst the rest of the league. Stacey Manthorpe is their top offensive option with 2.51 kills/set, while her sister Shelbey takes care of the passing with 8.69 assists/set. Libero Alyssa Warren leads the Big East with 5.07 digs/set.

Match #24: vs St. John's (15-11, 4-6 Big East)

When: Sunday, November 10, at 2pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: With Fox Sports 1 handling the video for the women's soccer championship game, the deck is cleared for FREE VIDEO STREAMING of this one. Live stats will be here.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

While that 4-6 league record isn't very shiny, the Red Storm did just bump off Creighton last weekend to help the Golden Eagles open up their current two game lead in the standings. And unsurprisingly, it was Big East kills leader Karin Palgutova leading the way for them in that match with 19 kills. Palgutova averages 4.43 kills/set, a third of a kill more per set than MU's Autumn Bailey. What makes Palgutova even more dangerous is her teammate, Aleksandra Wachowicz, who ranks third in the Big East with 3.73 kills/set.

Sophomore setter Deniz Mutlugil hails from Turkey and averages over 10 assists per set. Fellow sophomore Shawna-Lei Santos gives the Johnnies a Pacific islands flair with her Hawaiian heritage and anchors the defense as the libero with 4.90 digs/set.