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Marquette Volleyball Preview: at DePaul

Just one match this weekend for the Golden Eagles, but still slightly crucial.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Golden Eagles are flying.

Winners of five in a row and seven of their last eight, Marquette is currently sitting in third place in the Big East.  They're just one game back of second place Villanova after dispatching the Wildcats 3-1 in their most recent league contest.  MU is still three games back of league leader Creighton, as the Jays haven't lost a conference game yet this season, but hey, given that Marquette is essentially completely reassembling their team on the fly this season, it's still a pretty good run.

The NCAA most recently updated their RPI standings on Monday, and at that point, the Golden Eagles were sitting at #27.  That has to have them relatively safe as far as the NCAA tournament goes, but that has a caveat: They have to maintain that spot.  That may be harder than you think, as the Big East only has four teams in the top 100.  Four teams are sub-150 and three are sub-200.  Marquette has to play all four of those teams one more time this season, including Saturday's match against #201 DePaul.  Losses (other than maybe to Creighton next weekend in the McGuire Center) must be avoided at all costs between now and the Big East tournament.

TAYLOR LOUIS UPDATE: The redshirt freshmen ranks fourth in the country in kills per set, averaging 5.05 per go-round.  She's one of just four players averaging over five kills a set, and given Marquette's slightly lackluster schedule to round out the regular season, her chances at finishing #1 in the country seem very real right now.

Big East Match #12: at DePaul (13-10, 2-9 Big East)

When: Saturday, October 31, 2015, at 7pm Central
Where: McGrath-Philips Arena in Chicago, IL
Audio/Visual: DePaul's going to make you pay for streaming video, but live stats are free.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

The Golden Eagles were the opponent for the second league match of the season for the Blue Demons, and it was their second straight loss after reeling off 11 straight wins in the non-conference schedule.  DePaul won their next match, a 3-1 defeat of Xavier.  They lost their next five after that, but towards the end of that five match losing streak, the Blue Demons started to show signs of life.

The last three of those losses were five set defeats, and all three were in separate fashions.  First it was failing to hold on to a 2-0 lead against Creighton, then it was falling short in a comeback from a 2-0 hole against Georgetown, and finally trading sets with St. John's.  They snapped that losing streak with a sweep of Providence, but DePaul lost their two follow ups to that.  One of them was yet another five set loss where the Blue Demons dropped the final three sets to Villanova.

Yes, things are not going well for DePaul in league play.  But they forced Creighton and Villanova, the top two teams in the Big East thus far this season, to five sets before eventually falling.  I'm the first guy that will tell you that the fifth set is essentially a coin flip, given that it only goes to 15 points, so I have to say that it seems that DePaul has gotten a lot of coin flips to go against them recently.  That streak will not continue for much longer, and the Blue Demons may be on the verge of pulling out of this funk.

Brittany Maxwell might be the statistical leader of the DePaul offense at 2.82 kills per set, but she might not be the most dangerous attacker on the roster.  That title might land with Caitlyn Coffey, who has the second best hitting percentage in the Big East at .354.  The sophomore from Wauwatosa isn't succeeding through limited chances, either.  Out of the top 10 in the league in hitting percentage, Coffey's got the fifth most attempts.  Colleen Smith handles the setting duties, and her 9.69 assists average (6th best in the Big East) is probably slightly misleading.  Kelsey Horvath is averaging 6.33 assists for the Blue Demons, but she's only played in 21 sets this season and Smith has only missed nine sets.