Am I surprised that Marquette lost to Creighton on Friday night? No. MU struggled in their first trip to DJ Sokol Arena last year, and the Jays picked up the win in the Milwaukee end of this year's home-and-home series.
I am surprised by what happened in the course of the match. Marquette jumped out to a 1-0 lead by taking the first set, 25-17. The second set was a tightly contested affair and tied at 18 when Creighton libero Kate Elman went crashing into a sideline table. The junior from Omaha was ruled out of the remainder of the match with an arm injury and would in fact miss Creighton's next match against DePaul. Marquette would take the next point, but the following six would all belong to the Jays as they knotted the match at one set a piece.
The third set was completely out of control for Marquette. Melanie Jereb stepped in to play libero for Creighton, and even though it was the first time she had ever played the position, she finished the third set with five digs and the Jays got the win, 25-15. It wasn't even that close, as CU went up 13-5 in the early goings and just wandered to the end with the easy win. The big problem for MU in the third set was Leah McNary, who marked off eight kills for the Jays. The fourth set got off to a horrible start for Marquette, when two Kelli Browning kills put Creighton up 4-0, and the Golden Eagles never recovered, losing 25-21. From when Elman went out, Marquette got outscored 57-38. At face value, that's not good, and considering that CU was running out a 6'2" outside hitter with no experience at libero, it kind of makes that one sting a little bit more.
Autumn Bailey had 15 kills to lead Marquette, but she only hit .128 in the match. Mary Nilles and Gabby Benda alternated at setter, combining for 37 assists, and Lauren Houg had a match high 18 digs for Marquette.
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To bounce back from that slightly deflating loss, Marquette traveled halfway across the country to take on Georgetown on Sunday afternoon. While the trip wasn't necessarily something to look forward to inbetween two matches, the Hoyas on the other side of the net had to be a welcome sight for MU. Coming in to the match, Marquette had won 11 straight sets against Georgetown. That streak didn't change here, as the Golden Eagles came away with the 25-22, 25-22, 25-12 three set win.
While the Hoyas kept it close in the first two sets, Meghan Niemann was a constant lurking threat for their attack. The redshirt sophomore tallied a career high nine blocks to thwart Georgetown at what had to start to feel like every turn. Autumn Bailey had a match high 17 kills, while Nele Barber had another double-double with 11 kills and 14 digs.
The first set was tightly contested until Marquette took the last three points on a Lindsey Gosh kill and two GU attack errors. The set streak got into some serious danger in the second set as Georgetown took a 15-8 lead on a Dani White kill. But Marquette scored the next six points as part of a 9-2 run that tied the set at 17. It stayed tight til the end, where Georgetown had a 22-21 lead before - wait for it - Marquette scored the last four points for the win heading into intermission.
Coming out of the break, the first four points were split by each team. It was all Marquette from there, as the Golden Eagles used a 4-0 run to open a lead before mostly trading the next few points back and forth. A 10-3 run closed things out for Marquette, with a Lauren Saar service error providing match point for the Golden Eagles.
Up Next: Well, next weekend is going to be a fun one. Marquette will go back to back in the Al McGuire Center, hosting Butler on Friday and Xavier on Saturday. The Bulldogs are one of three teams tied for second place right now, with Marquette and Seton Hall rounding out the trinity at 8-3. XU is riding right along behind that group at 7-4, and with only four spots available for the Big East tournament, both of these matches are critical for both sides.