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Marquette Volleyball Weekend Preview: vs Creighton & vs Georgetown

Big weekend for the Golden Eagles. Big, big weekend.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

First of all, it's Senior Night for Marquette on Saturday night.  There will be a pregame ceremony honoring Erin Lehman, MU's only true senior on the roster, and Mary Nilles, a redshirt junior that's only seen action in 24 of MU's 90 sets this season.  If you've got your degree and you're not playing, you're not going to get anything but a high five and a thumbs up from me.

That'd be a big enough deal on it's own.  Friday night's game against Creighton is the real big deal around these parts.  As things stand right now, the Bluejays have a two game lead on 8-3 Marquette (ok, and you too, Xavier).  There will be just four matches left in the season after this weekend, and to be honest, Marquette should be the favorite to win all of them.  If the Golden Eagles want to harbor a chance of stealing the regular season title away from Creighton, it has to start here by knocking them off their perch.

I'm not too worried about the bigger picture for Marquette.  The Golden Eagles have played the 25th toughest schedule in the country according to the NCAA's calculation, and that has them ranked #24 in the country in the RPI.  Presuming that MU doesn't stumble to a team they have no business losing to down the stretch, it seems like a fifth straight NCAA tournament appearance is on the horizon.  It would be nice, of course, if MU could go ahead and give their resume a nice spit and polish with a win over the Bluejays who are ...... you guessed it, #23 in the RPI right now.

Taylor Louis Update: The redshirt freshmen is ranked 4th in the country with 5.08 kills per set.  She's one of just four players in the country averaging over five kills per frame this season.  The chances of Louis finding a way to win the national kills title at the end of the season is probably disappearing, since North Texas' Carnae Dillard is waaaaaaaay up there at 5.46 per set.  Louis is well on target to completely obliterate the MU single season record, though, which is held by Kim Todd, who averaged 4.81/set in 2006.

Big East Match #13: vs Creighton (18-8, 12-1 Big East)

When: Friday, November 6, 2015, at 7pm
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: The Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go has the video stream, plus there's live stats.
Special Promotions: 1st 300 students get a swanky baby blue long sleeve MUVB shirt, plus FREE PIZZA for students!
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

If this match had been just one week earlier, we could have gone on and on about the tear that Creighton was on.  They *had* won 12 straight, including their first 11 matches in league play.  They had only dropped nine sets along the way, including 3-0 sweeps like the one they dished out against Marquette in their first meeting this season.

And then they got stung by five sets on a trip to Villanova last week Friday.

As losses go, that's not that bad of a deal, as the Wildcats are much improved over last season with only two losses in league play and only five total.  It was still kind of unexpected, though, given the kind of play that the Jays had put together since late September.  They did bounce back the next night with a 3-0 win over Seton Hall, so at least they got a chance to work some of that anger out of their system.

The Jays are the #1 offense in the Big East, leading everyone in hitting percentage, kills, and assists.  They're doing it a little bit by committee, although freshman Jaali Winters is second in the league in kills at 3.91/set.  The two next best hitters on the squad are Jess Bird (2.60/set) and Lauren Smith (2.56/set), but neither of them are even in the top 15 in the league.  Smith is the most accurate hitter in the country, topping the hitting percentage chart at .357.  Maggie Baumert has the second best assist average in the conference, but she's only played 53 sets, compared with the 80 or 90 that everyone else has played.  Kenzie Crawford's averaging nearly nine assists in 47 sets this season, and I mention her because both she and Baumert have gotten PT since these two squads last played.  I should point out that the scale is tilted towards Baumert in that time frame, 23 sets to 8.

Big East Match #14: vs Georgetown (10-16, 4-9 Big East)

When: Saturday, November 7, 2015, at 7pm
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: Home matches get free video streaming, plus there's live stats.
Special Promotions: Fan Appreciation Day means raffles for the MBB tickets vs Iowa, Apple TV, Fanatics tickets, and more!  Plus, students who already have Fanatics tickets can pick up their shirts.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

Before we start pointing out how much the Hoyas have struggled this season, we have to point out that their current total of 10 wins matches the number of wins that they've had in each of their past two seasons.  They have four wins in league play right now, which also matches their full total from each of the past two years, too.  One step at a time, y'know?  By the time that Georgetown gets to Milwaukee, they might be riding a three year high, as they'll be playing DePaul on Friday night.

We can say that the Hoyas have won two of their last three.  We can also say that they've lost four of their last six.  Depends on how you want to take a look at things, they're either on the upswing or on the downswing.  It's a real "gotta hear both sides" kind of issue.

The freshmen continue to dominate the stat sheet for the Hoyas.  Texas native Alyssa Sinnette tops the team in kills at 3.51 per set, which ranks 6th in the Big East.  Paige McKnight from Atlanta ranks fifth in the Big East amongst setters with 9.71 assists/set.  Kenzie Higareda is a local, hailing from Woodbridge, Virginia, and she's the third best libero in the conference, at least by stats, averaging 4.50 digs per set.