And the student has become the master.
Marquette head coach Ryan Theis' last stop before taking his first head coaching position was as an assistant to Florida head coach Mary Wise. On Friday night, Theis returned to Gainesville and his Golden Eagles defeated Wise's #7 ranked Gators, 26-24, 20-25, 25-21, 20-25, 15-13. It's the first win over a top 10 team in Marquette volleyball history, and the first win against a ranked opponent since September 7, 2012, when MU defeated #23 Michigan.
As was the case the last time Marquette faced a ranked opponent, the Golden Eagles claimed victory in the first set. It was the most back and forth frame of the five, featuring 11 ties and six lead changes. UF would never lead after a tie at 20, and after one extra point, MU had the two point win. Florida knotted things up heading to intermission, largely due to MU only hitting .086 in the frame. The Gators were no great shakes themselves at .212 with five errors, but it was enough to easily take the second set.
After intermission, we got stuck in a time loop as the Golden Eagles took set #3 and the Gators rallied to force a fifth set. Lauren Houg and Nele Barber were key for MU in the third, with Houg snagging six of her match-high 20 digs and Barber recording four of her 12 kills. The native of Berlin gave MU the advantage with a kill that broke a tie at 13 all and her final swing of the set gave MU their 25th point. Florida tied the match back up with a win in the fourth set after Marquette had more errors (8) than kills (7).
So, yet again, a perfectly great volleyball match was ruined by playing 60% of a match to decide a winner. Marquette jumped out to a 6-3 lead on a kill from Autumn Bailey, but the Gators would rally and take a 10-9 lead on a kill from Ziva Recek. There would be just as many errors as kills heading down the stretch, but finally, Marquette got to match point, and Meghan Niemann rammed a kill home for the win.
Bailey had a match-high 15 kills, while Lindsey Gosh added 13 and Barber had 12. Florida's attack was led by 13 kills from Alex Holston and a match high 43 assists from Mackenzie Dagostino.
Post-match comments from Coach Theis, courtesy of GoMarquette.com:
Up Next: Marquette's right back at it at 2pm Central on Saturday, as they head just a tad bit down Florida's Turnpike to take on Central Florida.