After going out quickly in three sets against #18 Colorado State last weekend, all I wanted to see from Marquette volleyball against #8 Florida State on Saturday was more of a fight. I got exactly that, as the Golden Eagles pushed the Seminoles to a fifth and deciding set and fell in the final frame, 15-13.
The Golden Eagles came out of the gate strong, taking a 12-10 advantage in the first set on the way to a 25-21 win. Sophomore Autumn Baiiley led the way with five kills while hitting .625, and Marquette as a team hit .400 while committing just two errors. That string of fundamentals didn't continue, as two early errors in the second gave FSU an early 5-1 advantage. That eventually turned into 17-9 on the way to a 25-19 Seminole win.
The high powered Seminoles got even better in the third set, as they shot out to a 10-1 start. It took staving off three set points to make the set look closer than it was at 25-19 to push Marquette to the brink of elimination. The Golden Eagles held tight with FSU early in the fourth before taking a 23-15 lead and looking like they would easily force a fifth set. A 9-1 run by the Seminoles knotted things at 24 before MU finally seized the set on a net violation by FSU's Kiara Wright.
At this stage, I have to point out that I hate the 15 point fifth set. This is a perfectly fun volleyball match between two teams that are slugging it out, and we're going to ruin it by playing only 60% of a full set to determine a winner. To make things even worse, Marquette fought back from a 5-1 hole and avoided two match points to make the score 14-13 before FSU finally got the last point they needed. What could/would have happened if FSU was forced to win another 10 points? Was MU getting an advantage on Florida State and were they about to turn the tide? WE WILL NEVER KNOW, because 15 point fifth sets are dumb.
Here's another reason why they're dumb: They actually affect the statistics. Because not every match ends in the same number of sets, you have to count statistical averages as per set. Autumn Bailey finished with 17 kills, but because the fifth set ended too early, she's averaging 3.4 per set, instead of the 3.8 that she would have averaged had she gotten two more kills while they played to 25. See what I mean?
Gabby Benda and Mary Nilles continue to split time at setter, recording 27 and 23 assists respectively. Five different Golden Eagles recorded at least five digs, led by nine from libero Lauren Houg. Florida State got double figure kills from three different players, led by 24 from Nicole Walch. Sarah Wickstrom had 39 assists for the Seminoles, and Hailey Luke added 23 off the bench. Three Seminoles cracked into double digits on digs, led by 19 from Katie Mosher.
Up Next: FINALLY, THE ROCK HAS COME BACK TO THE AL MCGUIRE CENTER. Well, ok, not Dwyane Johnson, just the women's volleyball team. They'll play their home opener on Friday as part of the Marquette Invitational when they host James Madison at 11am. FREE ADMISSION for faculty and staff as part of "Lunch At The Al," and MU will follow that one up with a match vs Rice at 7pm.