With a top 35 RPI coming into the weekend, Marquette needs wins to send them to their fifth consecutive NCAA tournament. They got that in a big way on Friday and Saturday night, picking up 3-1 wins over both Seton Hall and Villanova. The win over the Wildcats avenges one of MU's three losses from the first pass through the Big East schedule this season.
On Friday night, Marquette came away from their meeting with Seton Hall by rallying after losing the first set to win the next three and sweep the season series against the Pirates. It looked like Marquette was going to take a first set win for a long time, as MU was carrying a four point advantage for the middle section of the frame. Slowly, Seton Hall edged their way back in, eventually tying it at 19 on a kill from Cherise Hennigan. The Golden Eagles would lead as late as 23-22, but that was after SHU had started a three point run that gave them the lead. Teal Schnurr fended off set point once, but consecutive attack errors by Taylor Louis, the second coming on a Pirates block, handed things over to Seton Hall.
I can't say the second set was all Marquette, as the Pirates had a brief four point blast to tie things at eight, but after Jenna Rosenthal teamed up with Louis and Schnurr on consecutive blocks, it was 14-9 and MU was firmly in control. SHU would sneak back to as close as two at one point, but Rosenthal responded with a solo block and another partner block with Schnurr to push MU back towards evening up the match at one each.
For a long time in the third, it looked like Seton Hall was going to take the advantage heading to the fourth. After Marquette coughed up an 8-4 lead, Seton Hall built a 14-10 lead and just kept holding Marquette off over and over. The Pirates got to 24 first, but an attack error by Hennigan breathed life into Marquette. Louis committed an error of her own to give set point back to SHU at 25, but she redeemed herself on the next point, and after a Pirates error, Joy Miley gave MU the advantage in the third.
The fourth set was over early. Four of the first 11 overall points of the frame came on attack errors by the Pirates, and Marquette had a 9-2 lead at that point. That became 11-3, then 14-5, then 20-10. That's pretty much all she wrote, and a kill from Rosenthal turned into match point at 25-14.
Louis was the star for Marquette, crashing a match high 23 kills, which is a new Big East high for the redshirt freshman. She hit an outstanding .257 along the way as MU hit .227 as a team. Louis also got her seventh double-double of the season on Friday, adding 12 digs to the scoresheet. Louis might have been the offensive dynamo, but Marquette got big games from both Rosenthal and Schnurr, too. Rosenthal had three kills and a Mutumbo-esque eight assisted blocks, while Schnurr had nine kills while hitting .333 and added five assisted blocks.
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Marquette got stunned in three sets by Villanova during their visit to The Main Line earlier this season, so the Golden Eagles were out for revenge on Saturday night. They got it, knocking off the Wildcats in four sets, 25-15, 24-26, 25-22, and 25-15.
MU took the early advantage in the first set, going up 4-0. Villanova would wander their way back into the action, though, eventually taking a 12-11 lead on a block by Allie Loitz and Gabby Pethokoukis. Then Marquette outscored VU 14-3 for the rest of the frame. Whoops. The big action was an 8-0 run by the Golden Eagles which featured four kills from Taylor Louis. It was 22-13 after Louis wrapped up that run, and that was pretty much it for that one. The second set tilted in favor of Villanova, but only after the Wildcats bounced back. Marquette had built a 17-12 lead on a block from Jenna Rosenthal and Sara Blasier, but Nova took six of the next nine points to cut the lead to just two. It looked like Marquette was going to take a 2-0 advantage, leading 24-22 on a service error by Loitz, but Nova snagged the next four points to turn it into a 26-24 win on a attack error by Joy Miley.
The third set was contentious. Marquette took a 12-8 lead, but Nova went on a 6-1 run to take a 14-13 lead. A kill from Pethokoukis took it to 19-17, but Marquette got the next three on a kill from Teal Schnurr, a block from Schnurr and Jenna Rosenthal, and another block from Rosenthal and Louis. That gave MU a 20-19 lead, and two more kills from Louis and a Miley/Meghan Niemann block made it 24-21. Villanova staved off set point once, but Niemann smashed her third kill of the match to give Marquette the 2-1 lead.
The fourth set was all Marquette, all the time. Marquette took a 7-2 lead on a kill from Sara Blasier and just kept scoring points in three or four point bursts as they ran away from Villanova. The Golden Eagles did struggle a teensy bit at putting the match away as VU scored four straight late, but Niemann followed up a service error by Lauren Carpenter by slipping a serve of her own just inside the back line for the 25-15 win.
Louis had a "down" night for her, recording only 19 kills. When you're averaging over five kills a set, it's hard to maintain that momentum. Luckily for her, if you combine her two outings here, Louis' second best in the country kills average will go up when the NCAA updates their stats this coming week. Marquette won with a strong team game against Villanova, as they got big contributions from a lot of players. Sara Blasier had a double-double with 37 assists and a career high 24 digs. 37 assists is a low number for someone averaging over 10 per game, but Lauren Houg chipped in nine helpers to go with 22 digs. Ellen Hays had 13 digs of her own, and Joy Miley filled in the holes in the offense with 13 kills. Marquette had 12 team blocks, with four different players recording at least four assisted blocks.
Up Next: Ok, enough of that conference action. Marquette veers off into non-conference land for one final match when they host UW-Milwaukee on Monday night at 7pm. The Panthers (6-17, 4-7 Horizon League) have lost five of their last six, including getting swept three times.