There's really no reason why Marquette isn't 6-0 on the season right now.
I mean, I know they lost to Oral Roberts last weekend. I know that they couldn't land kills to save their lives in the first two sets, which ultimately ended up dooming them when ORU took a tiny advantage and won the largely ridiculous and unfair fifth set. But, coming off of an upset of at the time #21 Iowa State, it's kind of an inexcusable loss.
Then again, ORU promptly followed up their win over Marquette with a win over Miami the next day, and the Hurricanes were getting AVCA votes just like MU was last week, so maybe it's not that bad of a deal.
Taylor Louis is the best killer in the Big East. She's averaging exactly six kills per set this season, and while that's insanely impressive on its own (it would have been best in the country a year ago), it's thrown into further relief by the rest of the Big East. No other attacker is averaging more than four kills per set, with Karin Palgutova from St. John's carrying the second best average at 3.92/set. Unsurprisingly, Sara Blasier's also the best passer in the Big East, although she doesn't have as big of a margin as Louis. Blasier averages 11.62 assists/set, while Villanova's Emma Pettit is at 11.23. Let's not overlook Jenna Rosenthal, either, as the 6'5" redshirt freshman is leading the Big East in blocks at 1.17/set.
Match #7: at Wyoming (5-1)
When: Friday, September 11, 2015, at 1pm Central
Where: UniWyo Sports Complex in Laramie, WY
Audio/Visual: Looks like there's free streaming video for this one, and live stats are definitely happening.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB
An argument could be made that the hosting Cowgirls are the worst team that Marquette will play this weekend. After all, they're the one out of the three that didn't make the NCAA tournament in 2014. Of course, making that argument means ignoring their season opening win against a #14 ranked Ohio State team, so we probably don't have much to stand on there.
According to Wyoming head coach Chad Callihan, last week was a challenging week for the Cowgirls, which probably explains their 3-1 loss to Gonzaga to ruin their run at a perfect season. Challenges are probably necessary for this squad, as they went 26-8 last year but didn't make the NCAA tournament. Wyoming finished third in the Mountain West in 2014, and they're picked to finish fourth this year. They did pick up one of the 11 first place votes in the polling of the league's coaches, though, so it might be a bit of a mixup at the top of their standings.
While the Cowgirls have had success so far this season, they're doing it without a dominant player. Three regulars are averaging over two kills per set, and another is just short of that barrier. However, Kayla Slofkiss leads the team with 2.67 kills/set, so they're able to mix things up on a regular basis. Courtney Chacon is their primary setter, but she's only averaging 5.27 assists, and there's two other part-timers averaging more than four assists a set.
Match #8: vs Northern Colorado (2-4)
Yes, Northern Colorado's record is not good so far this season. But they return all but three players from a team that went 22-11 in 2014 and made the NCAA tournament. They have losses to UCF (a team that gave Marquette trouble last year), as well as #14 Colorado State and #15 Arizona State, so you can't really fault them on those outcomes. The loss to Southern Illinois? Well, maybe that's not good.
The Bears were picked to finish fourth in the Big Sky this season, but that's not indicative of what's going on in that league. UNC got two first place votes in the polling, and finished just seven points shy of league favorite Idaho State. Senior Kendra Cunningham leads the offense with nearly four kills per frame, while fellow senior Meagan Garcia anchors the defense with 4.82 digs on average. Ashley Guthrie, a junior from Saugus, CA, handles the passing to the tune of just over 10 assists per set.
Match #9: vs #22 Kansas (6-0)
This, of course, will be the big test for Marquette this weekend. With that AVCA ranking in front of their name, the Jayhawks provide MU with a chance to boost themselves back towards the top 25 after taking a step backwards with the loss to Oral Roberts. Kansas has been blowing through people this season, having dropped just one set to Arkansas on their way to an unblemished record through six contests. I don't just mean they're sweeping teams, either. They're winning their first sets by an average of over 8 points, the second by seven even, and then just putting people in the ground in the third, winning 25-15 on average. AVERAGE.
My prediction for this match? PAYNE, as in Kelsie. The 6'3" sophomore leads KU in kills at 4.11 per frame, and she's got backup, as four regulars average at least a kill and a half. Sophomore Ainise Havili runs the show on offense with just short of 12 assists in each set, and she finds some spare time for over three digs, too. That's still second best on the team to junior Cassie Wait's 5.21 digs, though.
The Jayhawks were picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 this season, but that shouldn't be that imposing to Marquette. After all, they've already knocked off Iowa State, the team picked to finish second in that league.