Wednesday should have served as a wake up call for Marquette.
To that point of the season, Marquette had four losses: three in five sets and one to #22 Kansas. If you're unranked and you lose to a ranked team, you just throw that result out. Losing in five sets is frustrating as all hell, but there's so much instability in the act of getting to 15 points first as opposed to getting to 25 in the first four sets. You can't take too much away from those losses, either.
Getting swept by 4-6 Xavier, though? At home? In the conference opener? No bueno.
They hit just .147 as a team as Taylor Louis, one of the best attackers in the country coming in, had an atrocious night. Louis had just nine kills on 41 attacks and hit a woeful .073 on the night. Her 41 attacks constituted nearly 38% of the Marquette offense on the night, and while she only had six errors, that's two points per set to the Musketeers. If you're going to run that much of the offense through one person (Joy Miley was second on the team with 24 attacks, 22%), she's essentially not allowed to be that lousy, and she's definitely not allowed to commit six errors, either.
So, do we get a more diverse offense or does Louis just play better going forward? If you want to look at it from a risk management perspective, I'm voting for a more diverse offense. All I'm saying is that Meghan Niemann and Jenna Rosenthal had eight kills on 20 error free swings between them....
Big East Match #2: vs DePaul (11-2, 0-1 Big East)
So, I don't know what to make of the Blue Demons. I mean, I kind of do know, but it's really mean to say it out loud. They lost to Drake in their season opener, won their next 11 matches and lost just 10 sets along the way, and then they got popped by Butler in their Big East opener on Wednesday.
The key here is that Butler's not very good, and the Bulldogs beat DePaul 3-2. I find it hard to make any definitive statements from a five set loss, because losing that fifth set is basically a coin flip proposition. Just because one team got to 15 doesn't necessarily prove anything, y'know? The other side of that is that Butler won 15-9, which is pretty decisive for a concept that isn't actually that decisive in the first place.
So maybe DePaul is good, or maybe they're like they were in 2013 when they won 13 straight to start the season and then went 2-14 in conference play. I'm kind of leaning towards the latter, but we'll need to learn more to know for sure.
The good news for DePaul is that they're the best hitting team in the Big East, smacking kills to the floor at a rate of 26.4% as a team. They've got three players in the top 11 in the conference in hitting percentage, led by Caitlyn Coffey at a borderline supernatural .420. Coffey and Brittany Maxwell are DePaul's two best hitters by hitting percentage, and they're also the two best hitters by kills average. Coffey ranks 8th in the league at 2.98 per set, and Maxwell is right behind her at 2.94.
Colleen Smith is one of five Big East setters to average at least 10 assists per set, although in fairness to everyone else, Smith has the lowest average of the five. DePaul doesn't have a particularly dominant libero, with Taylor Graham ranking 8th in the Big East with 3.48 digs per set, but she does have a strong partner. Haley Bueser is the only Blue Demon to play in every set this season, and Bueser chips in just over two digs per set.