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Marquette Volleyball Preview: vs Butler

The Golden Eagles have one more home match before they head out on the road this weekend for the first time in conference action.

Live mascot > costume mascot
Live mascot > costume mascot
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Here's some good news for how Marquette started Big East play: Joy Miley was named to the conference's Weekly Honor Roll.

I'm trying to find a silver lining, because the Golden Eagles went 1-1 last week and looked flat out terrible in their straight set loss to Xavier.  Miley was the only Golden Eagle to crack double digits in kills in both matches, so perhaps she can continue to develop as a consistent alternative to Taylor Louis.  Speaking of Louis, she continues to dominate at the net, ranking third in the country (yes, as is out of everyone in the nation) in kills with 5.15/set.  She's not the only Golden Eagle getting national attention, as Lauren Houg's dig average of 5.28/set is 16th best in the country.  We've come a long way from me figuring that Houg was the clear #3 option at libero to start the season a year ago, huh?

This will be Marquette's last match in a six match homestand dating back to the start of the Marquette Invitational.  They'll be out on the road for the next two weekends and won't return to the confines of the McGuire Center until October 16th.  At that point, they'll be coming off a match against Creighton, so we'll definitely know where the team is as far as NCAA possibilities.

Big East Match #3: vs Butler (5-10, 2-1 Big East)

When: Wednesday, September 30, 2015, at 7pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: Home matches have FREE video streaming, plus live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

The Bulldogs came into conference play with a 3-9 record.  They've adjusted to 5-10 after winning two of their first three league matches, but I don't know if that actually tells us anything about Butler.  They beat DePaul and Providence for their two wins, and those two squads are a combined 0-4 in league play so far.  If anything, Butler's better than their crummy non-conference record, while the Blue Demons and Friars are much, much worse than their relatively gaudy non-conference outcomes.

A year ago, Makayla Ferguson was one of the better setters in the Big East.  This year, she's struggling to get to eight kills per set.  Part of this can be attributed to Meghan Cotant, a freshman setter from Birmingham, Michigan.  She's played in all but one of Butler's matches this season, and she's averaging 2.4 assists per set.  That doesn't completely explain why Ferguson is down from the 10.5 assists she averaged a year ago, of course.  The other main reason is the composition of Butler's attackers.  Of the six Bulldogs averaging more than a kill per set this season (and it's worth mentioning that Ferguson is one of them), only one is not a freshman or sophomore.  That lone veteran hitter is Mary Striedl, and she's second on the team in kills with 2.72/set.  The top mark on the team goes to freshman Anna Logan, who tops out at 2.87, which is 10th best in the Big East right now.

In one of the weirder set of circumstances you'll ever see, Logan is tied for the team lead in digs per set and is running away with the team lead in total digs.  They've got four players averaging at least two digs per set, so maybe that's not that all bad, but generally speaking you've got a problem if your best attacker is also your best defensive player.

One thing MU needs to watch out for in this match is Butler's blocks.  They've got two players - Briana Lilly and Makaila Jarema - who are both averaging over a block per set.  This puts both women in the top five in the Big East right now, and they compose a full third of the players in the league who can boast that high of an average.