As we touched on in the returning players post, Marquette's dealing with a number of departures this season. We all knew that Lindsay Gosh (senior) and Courtney Kintzel (redshirt junior, graduated) wouldn't be back. What wasn't expected was the transfers of Autumn Bailey (Michigan State), Nele Barber (Long Beach State), Gabby Benda (Georgia Tech), Jackie Kocken (Loyola-Chicago), as well as the apparent evaporation of Ellie Rauch.
Yeah, that's a lot.
So it's up to Ryan Theis to rebuild a heavy section of his roster essentially on the fly as the Golden Eagles look to extend the first ever NCAA tournament appearance streak in program history.
Off the top, the reconstruction starts with Joy Miley, who comes to Marquette after two seasons at Long Beach State. If you want, you can kind of look at it as Miley being the returning side of a trade with LBSU. A native of Downey, California, Miley had a bit of a rocky start to her collegiate career after being a top 50 recruit coming out of high school. She was just a reserve for Long Beach in her freshman campaign and her sophomore season was hacked short due to injury. She's never averaged more than two kills per set nor hit better than .220. Given the dearth of other proven outside hitters on the roster, Miley's going to get a chance to be a star for the Golden Eagles, so perhaps a combination of that and a change of scenery (Downey HS is just a 20 minute drive from LBSU) will work out for her.
Marquette's other inbound transfer also has a chance to make an immediate impact. Sara Blasier returns to Wisconsin after playing two years at Rice. The Slinger, WI, native led Conference USA in assists last season, plus she seems adept at the "Bisky Kill," as she averaged just over one kill per set, too. Blasier's got a much more impressive track record than Mary Nilles, Marquette's only returning setter, so it seems likely that she'll have an advantage at the spot in the starting lineup.
Ryan Theis' first recruiting class at Marquette isn't going to knock anyone's socks off. Amanda Green is the freshman that probably has the easiest chance at making an impact off the bat. She's an outside hitter from Skokie, IL, and actually used to be high school teammates with redshirt freshman Taylor Louis at Niles North. As I mentioned with Miley, Marquette doesn't have much on the roster in way of outside hitters at the moment. If Green can show any kind of reliability (she was a top 60 recruit according to PrepVolleyball.com), you have to figure that Theis is going to find a spot for her on the court.
MU's other two freshmen might struggle to get on the court. Both Riley Burchett and Abby Julian are listed as defensive specialists, and you have to figure that Lauren Houg and Ellen Hays are going to get the majority of the time in those spots. Burchett was a four year letterwinner at Nazareth Academy in Burr Ridge, IL, while playing libero. She was also the captain of her club team which managed a 5th place national finish as a U16 squad. Julian is actually listed as a setter and defensive specialist, but I don't think she'll have much of a chance at unseating Blasier or Nilles for playing time. She is battle tested, though, as her high school team made it to the Ohio state tournament semifinals three years in a row.