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Marquette Volleyball Preview: vs St. John's & vs Providence

Believe it or not, but by the end of the weekend, MU could have clinched one of four playoff spots in the Big East with three matches left on the schedule.

Sorry, Providence mascot, you're super creepy.
Sorry, Providence mascot, you're super creepy.
Maddie Meyer

They're still going to need a teensy bit of help.  Wins in both of Marquette matches and a loss by Xavier in either one of their games will take care of putting the Golden Eagles back into the Big East tournament.  Given that Seton Hall's also sitting at 10-3 in league play, I'm going to guess that they're in the same scenario, and thus, there's not going to be a lot of drama left in the regular season.

While the drama might be evaporating, these matches still carry a bit of importance.  Marquette is done playing all of the Big East contenders this season with the exception of a lone match against Seton Hall next weekend.  The Golden Eagles need to take care of business to not only keep their chances at a Big East title alive, but also to keep their stock as high as possible for the NCAA tournament.  As of Monday, MU was #21 in the RPI, but given the nature of four of their final five opponents (a combined 36-70 without SHU included), that's probably going to drift backwards a little bit even with victories.  Hosting two NCAA rounds is probably out of the question, but Marquette is heading to their their fourth straight NCAA appearance, and getting as favorable a draw as possible is still key.

Big East Match #14: vs St. John's (17-10, 6-6 Big East)

When: Friday, November 7, 2014, at 7pm
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: Only live stats because of the men's soccer match.
Special Promotions: Head coach Ryan Theis challenged the MU fraternities to a burrito eating contest.  Theis will be in the locker room at intermission, but the students will be trying to beat his time of 1:15.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

I wish I had the ability to watch more of this St. John's team.  I'm trying to figure where they're going wrong.

They have two of the three best hitters in the league in Karin Palgutova and Aleksandra Wachowicz, who combine to average 8.13 kills per set.  Setter Deniz Mutlugil leads the Big East in assists at 10.86/set, which is the 45th best mark in the country.  They're only fifth in the league in hitting percentage at .237, but they hold their opponents to .177.

Five of their league losses are to Marquette, Creighton, Xavier, and Seton Hall twice.  Yeah, that means they've lost every match except one against the teams in front of them in the standings, but how is a team that's this statistically dynamic not managing to sneak at least one or two more wins from that group?  What makes it slightly more frustrating from a Marquette perspective is that the Big East could use more teams playing well to raise the profile of the league overall.  St. John's looks like they could be a team like that, but they somehow just don't have the horses to compete.

Big East Match #15: vs Providence (4-22, 0-12 Big East)

When: Saturday, November 8, 2014, at 5pm
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: Free video streaming plus live stats.
Special Promotions: Campers from this past summer get in for free, as does anyone with a ticket stub from the men's hoops exhibition vs Wisconsin Lutheran.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

Well.  Hopefully Providence isn't regretting their decision to rejoin the Big East this season.  The Friars have actually lost 13 straight matches, and in that time, they've only won three sets.  In fact, because they took the first frame against St. John's, they've now lost nine straight sets heading into tonight's match against DePaul.  To put it another way, when Marquette swept PC in their first meeting, it dropped the Friars to a record of 4-12.

I'm struggling to find something nice to say about Providence.  Ok, here it is: Michelle Cruz ranks third in the Big East in service aces (0.29/set) and second in digs (5.02/set).  Sophomore Kayla Ferguson leads the PC attack with 2.80 kills per stanza, but she's only hitting .139 this season.  Cruz and setter Jordan Wiesler are the only two Friars to play in every set this season, with Wiesler averaging 7.90 assists along the way.