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Marquette Volleyball Weekend Preview: at Villanova & at Seton Hall

The Golden Eagles look to keep their winning ways going as they take to the road for the first time in league play this season.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, Marquette lost their Big East opener to Xavier.  Not only was it a loss, it was a three set loss.  Not only was it a three set loss, it was a three set loss where Marquette looked bad the whole time.

The following Saturday, head coach Ryan Theis inserted Teal Schnurr into the lineup in place of Erin Lehman.  Since then, Marquette has hit .332, committed just 22 errors in seven sets, and won six out of seven sets while moving to 2-1 in league play.

Sorry, Erin, but even though you're the only senior on this team, but this is now officially an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" situation, and you're not going be playing very much going forward.  With any luck, though, this will get Marquette a gigantic head of steam heading into their first meeting with Creighton this season, which is coming up in just eight short days.

Big East Match #4: at Villanova (11-4, 1-1 Big East)

When: Friday, October 2, 2015, at 6pm Central
Where: Jake Nevin Fieldhouse in Bryn Mawr, PA
Audio/Visual: VU's gonna make you pay for video streaming, but live stats are free.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

Things were really chugging along for Villanova on September 26th.  They had won eight matches in a row, which was their longest winning streak since 2010.  Along the way, they had lost just two sets, one was to James Madison, and the other was to Temple.

And then they went out to D.J. Sokol Arena in Omaha and got punked by Creighton.  Okay, okay, they lost 3-1, so it wasn't really a punking.  But the Wildcats only hit .166 in the match, which is not a good thing to do when you're going up against the favorite to win the league.

The Wildcats have the best defense in the Big East this season, holding opponents to a minuscule .166 hitting percentage.  Part of that is Gabby Pethokoukis averaging a block per set, which is the 6th best average in the league.  Other than that, I'm not entirely sure how they're doing that.  Villanova's ranked #5 in the Big East as a team in blocks, and they're 5th in digs.  Those are your two big components on controllable things to hold down an opponent's hitting, so maybe they're also just getting fantastically lucky on attack errors.

On the offensive side of things, Allie Loitz is clearly Villanova's most important attacker.  She's their best hitter by both percentage (.296, #8 in the league) and by kills average (3.58, #6 in the league).  They've also got four more regulars averaging more than 2.2 kills per set, so they've got a nice variety in their offense.  That diversity in attackers has setter Emma Pettit leading the Big East in assists at 11.27/set, which is in the top 25 in the country.

Big East Match #5: at Seton Hall (7-7, 1-1 Big East)

When: Saturday, October 3, 2015, at 5pm Central
Where: Walsh Gymnasium in South Orange, NJ
Audio/Visual: SHU's gonna make you pay for video streaming, but live stats are free.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

The Pirates continue to be not-great in the post-Manthorpe era.  After making the NCAA tournament last year with twins Stacey and Shelbey Manthorpe carrying the heavy weights for the team, they're firing right down the middle of the street as far as wins and losses go this season.  That record might be misleading, though, as SHU is 4-1 in five set matches this season, which includes a win in their most recent game against Georgetown.  The same Georgetown team that's 6-9 and winless in three tries at home, which is where that match was.  That's... potentially troubling.  If my theory is correct, and five set matches are essentially a coinflip because of the shortened final set, that kind of thing is bound to turn around on them pretty quickly.

While they're .500 overall and in league play, Seton Hall's offense is struggling.  The Pirates have the worst hitting percentage in the Big East at a lousy .187.  Unsurprisingly, they're also last in the league in kills per set, too.  Generally speaking, you're going to struggle to score points when you're getting fewer than 12 points from your offense.  They do have four regulars averaging over two kills per set, but Danielle Schroeder tops the chart at 2.70/set, which is only the 12th best mark in the Big East.  The good news is that Tessa Fournier is second in the Big East in digs at 4.61 per set, though.