The final scores were 25-18, 25-22, 25-14 as Marquette closed their regular season with a win in relatively easy fashion. But the news of the day was Autumn Bailey. The sophomore outside hitter became the first Golden Eagle to ever eclipse the 1,000 career kill mark in just two seasons. She hit the plateau with her 10th kill of the set, which, somehow, she managed to hit in the first set.
Bailey finished the night with 23 kills, which leaves her in 13th place all time at 1,013 kills. That mark also makes Bailey the Big East's leader in kills in 3 set, 4 set, and 5 set matches this season, as she surpassed Providence's Kayla Johnson and St. John's Karin Palgutova, who had posted 22 kills in three set matches earlier this season. Bailey holds six of the 17 highest kills totals put up in any Big East match this season, including three of the top five.
What I'm saying is that she's going to be my pick for Player of the Year in my award predictions later today, and it's not close.
Marquette used a 4-0 run in the middle of the first set to take control at 13-8. DePaul was able to keep it even from there, but they were never able to get anything going to cut into Marquette's lead. The second set was much tighter, with DePaul even managing a lead of two points here and there. They never got separation from MU, though, and things were even at 22 on a rare attack error from Bailey. Her teammates backed her up, though, as Courtney Kintzel and Nele Barber landed kills on either side of a Bailey service ace to wrap up the second set win.
Marquette jumped out to a 9-4 advantage in the first and dominated from there, boosting the lead to 14-8 on on a Meghan Niemann kill, and closing out the match with a 6-0 run that included two more aces from Bailey. That gave Marquette the sweep, and a 14-4 record in the Big East this season.
While Bailey had an amazing night while scoring 27 points and hitting .419, she had help out there, too. Barber had eight kills, nine digs, and four aces, while Niemann contributed seven kills, four digs, and two blocks. Kintzel had six kills on 11 swings on her Senior Night, while fellow senior Lindsey Gosh wasn't dressed for action. Lauren Houg had a match high 19 digs for MU on defense, and Gabby Benda paced the offense with 37 assists. DePaul was led by eight kills from Caitlyn Coffey.
Up Next: Marquette hosts the Big East tournament this weekend, with the winner of the two-day event coming away with the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. MU is the #3 seed, and they'll face #2 Seton Hall at 5:30pm on Friday evening. That match will follow #1 Creighton taking on #4 Xavier. The two winner will square off Saturday at 4pm.