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Marquette Volleyball Weekend Preview: vs Georgetown & vs Creighton

It's time for the Big East home opener, and then tomorrow: A rematch of the 2013 Big East Tournament championship game.

Sorry, Georgetown, the Creighton match is much more important.
Sorry, Georgetown, the Creighton match is much more important.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette volleyball comes into the weekend with the appearance being ready to run roughshod over the Big East.  After last weekend's performances, the Golden Eagles now have the best hitting percentage in the league at .264, well above the .250 posted by Seton Hall.  To make things worse for the teams on the other side of the net, Marquette is holding opponents to hitting just .147, the second best mark in the Big East behind those same Pirates.

Autumn Bailey, while playing well in the early goings of 2014, was absolutely ballistic in the first two matches of league play, and her 3.88 kills/set average trails St. John's Karin Palgutova by just .18 of a kill right now.  Gabby Benda is the Big East's reigning Freshman of the Week as she's taken over setting duties for the Golden Eagles and is shooting up the conference leaders chart.  It is worth noting that Benda was sporting a walking boot following last Saturday's match vs St. John's. Of course, those can be precautionary for basketball players and Benda will be doing much less running than they do, so it's probably not a major concern at this point.

Big East Match #3: vs Georgetown (6-10, 0-3 Big East)

When: Friday, October 3, 2014, at 7pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: It's a home match, so free live streaming to go along with live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

Hoyas volleyball was 6-3 on the season at one point.  They've lost seven straight matches, including being swept three times.  Two of the sweeps came at the hands of at the time #22 UCLA and a Creighton squad that's much better than their overall record indicates (we'll get to that in a minute), so it's not like they're getting cracked by the Little Sisters Of The Poor.  Georgetown hasn't finished a season over .500 since 2011 when they closed at 14-12, and they haven't finished over .500 in the Big East standings since .... since 2002 when then went 7-6?  Sheesh.  I was going to say that this trend doesn't seem likely to turn around this year, but ugh, I don't want to be mean about it, either.

Terese Cannon paces the Hoya offense with 2.89 kills per set, although she's only hitting .209 this season.  Caitlin Brauneis handles the setting duties (9.66 assists/set), while MacKenzie Simpson holds up the back line with 4.32 digs/set.  Lauren Saar doesn't have a lead in any statistical category for Georgetown, but her all around play has earned her two spots on the Big East's Weekly Honor Roll this season.

Big East Match #4: vs Creighton (10-6, 3-0 Big East)

When: Saturday, October 4, 2014, at 6pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: It's a home match, so free live streaming to go along with live stats.
Special Promotions: GOLD OUT!  Free Gold shirt for all students in attendance, and $2 admission for anyone that comes wearing gold. PLUS! Two students in attendance will win Fanatics tickets for men's basketball!
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

The Golden Eagles and Bluejays matched off three times in 2013.  Marquette came away with a 2-1 advantage in the series, losing in Omaha in the regular season, but taking the Milwaukee end of the regular season and, most importantly, the Big East tournament championship match, which was also back in Omaha.  This year, the Jays are the favorite to take the league title, with the Golden Eagles coming in as the runner up.

So far this season, Marquette has the more favorable record, but that has more to do with how Kirsten Bernal Booth scheduled her squad.  Creighton's non-conference scheduling had them facing #22 Kansas in a tournament hosted by the Jayhawks, squaring off with #6 USC and #16 Kentucky in a tournament hosted by the Wildcats, a cross-state matchup with #9 Nebraska, and finally hosting #16 Illinois as part of their own tournament.  Were they 7-6 at the start of conference play? Sure.  Did the Jays lose every single match I just listed? Sure did, plus one more against South Dakota.  Are they still somehow getting four points in the most recent AVCA coaches' poll? Yes they are.

As great of a job that Marquette is doing striking the ball, Creighton's Kelli Browning actually has the best hitting percentage in the Big East at .397.  Browning, who was my pick as the Big East's Preseason Player of the Year, leads Creighton in kills with 3.55/set and in blocks with 1.15 per frame.  Maggie Baumert powers the offense with 10.23 assists per set, while Kate Elman ranks third in the Big East with 4.48 digs per stanza.