Marquette volleyball went 1-1 on the first day of Wyoming's Pistol Pete's Shootout, falling 3-2 (20-25, 19-25, 25-23, 26-24, 12-15) to the hosting Cowgirls before bouncing back to top Northern Colorado 3-1 (25-20, 25-17, 23-25, 25-21) in the night cap.
If Marquette volleyball could avoid playing five set matches, that would be really okay with me. Five match sets mean I get annoyed about the absurd unfairness of ending a deciding set 10 points before the first four sets ended, which means I end up howling about it here to you people. I'm trying to look out for y'all when I ask for Marquette to avoid this in the future.
I especially would like to see MU avoid the "go down two, rally back two, lose in five" match. It's happened twice this season already, and we're only eight matches and not quite three weeks in. It's a level of effort thing. After being down 0-2, the squad essentially has to play flawless volleyball for the next three sets to have a chance at winning, and the nature of volleyball is entropy. Managing to be flawless for an hour or so straight is not a fun time, and it's usually not going to end well. You'll notice that Marquette lost both times that they tried to bounce back from 0-2, but when they were alternating wins against Miami, they came away with the win. Small Sample Size Theater? Maybe, but the logic is sound.
If you were a neutral party, you didn't like watching the Marquette-Wyoming match. Marquette hit .128 on the way to their loss, while the Cowgirls only managed .218 in the win. The two teams combined for 62 errors in the match, and that's bad, because there were only 20 total blocks. Wyoming ran away with the first set after jumping out to leads of 7-2 and 13-5, and then they ripped the second set away from Marquette. The Golden Eagles led 9-6 early, but a 7-1 by the Cowgirls turned it in their favor and they carried the action from there.
MU got another 7-2 lead in the third on a Riley Burchett ace, but another 7-1 run from Wyoming tightened the match up. It stayed nice and even from there until a kill from Meghan Niemann and a pair from Taylor Louis gave the Golden Eagles some breathing room before Louis closed it out. Marquette built another early lead in the fourth, going up 16-13 on a Jenna Rosenthal kill, but Wyoming came back, AGAIN. They led 22-20 after MU's Mary Nilles committed a service error, but Marquette didn't fold in the face of pressure, even when Wyoming got to match point on a Louis error. Erin Lehman fended off the end of the match, Wyoming's Emily Hines committed an error, and then Sara Blasier won it for Marquette in one of the weirdest service aces for set point you'll ever see. With Blasier serving for set point, and Wyoming with a chance to end this in four sets if they could rally, the Cowgirls just let her serve drop in the middle of the court. No deflection, no weird carom off the top of the net, nothing. Just landed for the winning point.
Niemann put MU up early in the fourth, but yet again, Wyoming bounced back, and this time it was for good. A simple 5-1 run can be destructive when you're only playing to 15, and that shot by the Cowgirls made it 11-8 in their favor, and they closed out the win with three straight points, including the last two on attack errors by Marquette.
Louis led the way for Marquette with 21 kills, well off her average of nearly six kills a set. She also committed 12 errors and only hit .148, which just goes to highlight my point about heavily focusing the offense through her. She had 61 attacks in this match, more than twice as many as any other player. Bridget Shanahan was tops for Wyoming with 18 kills, while their setting duo of Cori Aafedt (24 assists/10 digs) and Courtney Chacon (22 assists/11 digs) both posted double-doubles.
* * * * *
With a disappointing loss behind them, Marquette only had a few hours off before tangling with Northern Colorado. A good start was going to be necessary, and that's what they got. Jenna Rosenthal and Taylor Louis provided two kills each on a 4-0 run as MU took a 13-7 lead. Northern Colorado slowly worked their way back in, getting as close as 20-19 before MU cracked off four straight to put the first set away.
The second set was all Marquette as they went up 4-1 and didn't look back. The Golden Eagles hit a rousing .410 in the second frame en route to the relatively easy 25-17 win. The third set tightened things up after intermission. UNC had a lead in the early goings before the Golden Eagles came charging back to take an 18-14 lead on a kill from Louis. The Bears edged their way back into it, though, and they took four of the final five points of the set to force a fourth frame. The Golden Eagles took a lead in the fourth, but UNC wasn't going away, either. Ashley Guthrie cut the MU lead to just 21-20, but then she handed a point right back to Marquette with an error on the next point. Louis and Rosenthal tacked onto the lead and Meghan Niemann secured the win with a block.
Louis led Marquette with 25 kills, but the story was the 16 kills from Rosenthal. That's a new career high for the redshirt freshman, who hit a crazypants .538 with just 2 errors against the Bears. The 6'6" middle hitter from Fond Du Lac also chipped in six blocks for a total of 19 points in the match. Yeah, it was only second best on her team, but it was better than anyone on Northern Colorado's roster. Mary Nilles stepped in as setter to post career highs in assists (50) and digs (15). Presumably this was just about getting her some game action as well as giving Sara Blasier some rest given the quick turnaround, so we'll have to keep an eye on the lineup for.....
Up Next: .... Marquette's matchup with #22 Kansas (8-0) that starts at 11:30 am on Saturday. The Jayhawks had the same opponents as Marquette did yesterday, but the Jayhawks went 2-0 and only dropped one set along the way.