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Marquette Volleyball Weekend Preview: vs Seton Hall & vs Villanova

We make the turn into the second half of the Big East schedule with a pair of home matches on back to back nights.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Well, here we are, halfway through the Big East volleyball schedule.  I think it's safe to say that this isn't really how Marquette wanted the first nine matches to go.

Here's how the Big East standings look at this point.

Team Record
Creighton 9-0
Villanova 8-1
Marquette 6-3
Xavier 6-3
St. John's 4-5
Seton Hall 4-5
Butler 3-6
DePaul 2-7
Georgetown 2-7
Providence 1-8

It's really not great once you get past the tie for third place between Marquette and Xavier.  I supposed things would be better if this was, say, the Big Ten, where Illinois sits in 10th place in the league with a record of 3-5, but they're still ranked #18 in the country.  These kinds of things happen when your conference has eight teams ranked in the top 25, including four in the top 10.

(Mostly unrelated side note: former Marquette head coach Bond Shymansky is 0-8 in league play this season at Iowa, but the Hawkeyes are 10-11 overall.)

As you might expect, Marquette's three losses are to the two teams in front of them in the standings and the team that they're currently tied with in the standings.  Nova's lone loss is to Creighton (no shocker there), while Xavier's three losses have come against Creighton, Villanova, and.... wait, you gotta be kidding me.  DePaul?  Xavier lost to DePaul?? Ugh, it's times like these that the transitive property is the worst.

Taylor Louis' insane-o redshirt freshman year continues.  She currently ranks second in the country in kills per set at 5.04, just one one-hundredth of a kill more than USC's Samantha Bricio and Laura Milos from Oral Roberts.  All of these women are trailing Carnae Dillard, who is throwing down 5.40 kills per set for North Texas.

Big East Match #10: vs Seton Hall (10-11, 4-5 Big East)

When: Friday, October 23, 2015, at 7pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: Home matches get FREE video streaming, plus there's live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

The Golden Eagles earned the 3-0 sweep against the Pirates in their first meeting this season out in New Jersey.  Taylor Louis had it going on against SHU, recording 16 kills and hitting .424.  Since then, the Pirates have gone 2-3, including a loss to last place Providence.  You'll notice from the table above that this means SHU is the only Big East squad that the Friars have beaten this season.

You can't lose to a team that lost to Providence.  You just can't.

Coming off of a three set loss to Villanova in their most recent outing, Seton Hall's offense is led by a trio of attackers.  Amanda Hansen, Cherise Hennigan, and Danielle Schroeder.  Technically speaking, Hansen leads the team in kills at 2.76, but with Hennigan (2.71) and Schroeder (2.60) so close behind her, it would be disingenuous at best to ignore their contributions.  None of the three are in the league's top 10 in kills, so I guess it's best that they spread things around as much as possible for the best effect.

Even with the variety of options in front of her, Sophia Coffey is still has the lowest assist average out of the regular setters in the Big East.  I could tell you she ranks 8th in the league at 9.29 helpers per set, but with the next two behind her at 7.38 and 5.18 per frame, it doesn't really tell you the whole story.  Libero Tessa Fournier ranks second in the Big East in digs at 4.81/set, but that's not great news for Seton Hall in this match: Marquette's Lauren Houg (5.14/set) holds the top spot.

Big East Match #11: vs Villanova (18-4, 8-1 Big East)

When: Saturday, October 24, 2015, at 6pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: Home matches get FREE video streaming, plus there's live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

The Golden Eagles were merely a bump in the road for the Wildcats when the two teams met back on October 2nd.  Villanova was coming off of a 3-1 loss to Creighton that had snapped an eight match winning streak.  VU defeated Marquette in three sets 21 days ago, jumpstarting a run of 11 consecutive sets won, which ultimately turned into a seven match winning streak.  Nova's only loss on their first pass through the Big East this season came against current undefeated league leader Creighton, and at 8-1 on the season, they're already surpassed the six league wins that Villanova secured a year ago.  And the four from the year before that.  And the five from the year before that.

I'm saying they're definitely not a doormat this season.

How are they winning?  Honestly, I'm not sure I can really quantify it. The Wildcats own the Big East's lowest opponent's hitting percentage at .147, and they're the only team in the league holding opponents under .200.  They're also leading the Big East in kills per set, although they only have the third best hitting percentage.  They're just barely second to Creighton in assists, and they're in the middle of the pack when it comes to blocks and digs.

Allie Loitz is playing her way into all-Big East consideration.  The sophomore from Bonita, CA, leads VU in kills with 3.55 per set, and that ranks fifth in the Big East.  She also chips in nearly two and a half digs, and averages a bit more than three-quarters of a block, too.  She's been named Big East Player of the Week once and included on the league's Honor Roll in two different weeks on top of that.

Senior setter Emma Pettit seems intent on going out on a high note.  She's ranked in the top 20 in the country in assists per set, and her average of 11.3 helpers is the best mark in the Big East.  She's also one of four regulars (along with Loitz) to average more than two digs per frame, but sophomore Allison Fitzgerald (3.48/set) is the team leader in that category.