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Marquette Volleyball Weekend Preview: at St. Johns & at Providence

Yeah, that's right! Volleyball's still going on!

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles take to the road for the remaining four games of the regular season.  It's important to point out that there are four games left on the schedule, because that's also the exact number of games that Marquette is ahead of Butler and St. John's in the Big East standings right now.

Marquette currently sits in fourth place in the Big East, occupying the final available Big East tournament berth.  A win by the Golden Eagles will clinch a tourney spot, and conveniently, they get their first crack at doing that against the Red Storm.  It probably won't come to that, but Marquette does actually travel to Indianapolis next weekend to face the Bulldogs, but things should be long since decided by then.

With two weekends of matches left to be played, there's still a lot of movement possible in the standings between Marquette and the three teams in front of them.  MU and Villanova are actually tied in the loss column at four, but Nova has an extra win over the Golden Eagles right now.  Xavier has a full one game lead on Marquette, and first place Creighton is two up in the loss column and three in the win column.  There's still lots of movement possible before the top four teams convene in Omaha for the conference tournament.

Taylor Louis Watch: The redshirt freshman is ranked #4 in the country in kills per set.  Her 5.04/set average continues to trail the usual suspects: Carnae Dillard at 5.49, Laura Milos at 5.20, and Samantha Bricio at 5.10.

Big East Match #15: at St. John's (16-13, 6-8 Big East)

When: Saturday, November 14, 2015, at 1pm Central
Where: Carnesecca Arena in Queens, NY
Audio/Visual: ESPN3 has the streaming video, plus there's streaming audio, and there's live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

I continue to be disappointed in the Red Storm.  Karin Palgutova's just chugging along, racking up the third best kills average in the Big East this season behind Player of the Year candidates Taylor Louis and Creighton's Jaali Winters.  But the team just can't get wins, having just snapped a three game losing streak with a win over Providence in their most recent outing.

At least there's something obvious to point at this season.  Palgutova and sophomore Julia Cast (2.12 kills/set) are the only two Johnnies to play in all 104 sets this season for the Red Storm.  Defensive specialist Delaney D`Amore has appeared in 99 sets, but no one else has broken past 90 this season.  When you can field a consistent lineup for whatever reason, you're going to have a hard time winning in any sport.  With a sport like volleyball where consistent group dynamics are crucial, you're going to struggle even more.

I would normally launch into a dissertation of the team stat leaders at this point of the preview, but with so many players going in and out of the lineup for SJU, I don't think I could accurately represent who is and is not actually really leading this team other than Palgutova.

Big East Match #16: at Providence (10-18, 1-13 Big East)

When: Sunday, November 15, 2015, at 11am Central
Where: Alumni Hall in Providence, RI
Audio/Visual: PC will make you pay for video, but there is free live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

Shoutout to the Friars, who already have four more wins than they did all of last season!

Thus ends the praise section of our preview, as PC has lost their last nine straight and 14 of their last 15.  Five of the nine straight losses have been via sweep.  Needless to say, they're still adjusting to moving up to the Big East from the America East last year.

I could parade around a bunch of stats that would point out how much Providence has struggled this season.  Last in the Big East in this, second worst in that.  But here's the thing that jumps out at me: Providence allows opponents to hit .259 against them, the worst mark in the Big East.  Marquette's team hitting percentage for the entire season is .248.  Yeah.  Expect a big day from the Golden Eagles.

When the Friars do get something going on offense, it's likely because of Kayla Fitzgerald.  The junior from Redlands, CA, is averaging 3.37 kills/set, the seventh best mark in the Big East this season.  Jordan Wiesler handles most of the setting duties to the tune of 9.59 assists per frame.  Michelle Cruz's 3.72 digs per set aren't going to light the world on fire, but it does have her ranked 6th in the Big East.