Well, here we are, just like we expected, with Marquette volleyball sitting at 3-0 with a win over a ranked team and peering at the edge of the AVCA top 25.
Ok, so maybe it is a surprise.
While we might have been able to expect Sara Blasier to step right in as a competent setter, I don't think anyone really expected redshirt freshmen Taylor Louis to average just short of six kills per set. Meghan Niemann being named Player of the Week? Not a surprise, although I think her 3.20 kills/set are a little unexpected. Her Big East leading hitting percentage of .538? Definitely not a surprise for the career .332 hitter.
Now they head to Missouri for their next three-pack of games. At this point, I think we have to upgrade the season from "show up and let's see what happens" to "if the Iowa State win was an indicator of what this team can do, they should be able to come home with three wins against these teams."
Match #4: vs Oral Roberts (2-1)
The Golden Eagles are the "worst" team that Marquette will face this weekend, at least in terms of their record so far this season. After a season opening three set loss to Nevada, they bounced back to snag 3-1 wins in their next two against South Alabama and Pepperdine in a tournament that Pepperdine was hosting. I get to call them the "worst" team because they're the only team involved in Missouri State's tournament that is lugging around a loss after the first weekend. Other than that, they're fine. ORU is picked to finish fourth in the Summit League this season, and there's a clear drop off in that conference after the top two teams.
Sophomore Laura Milos is the key component in the ORU offense, at least through three matches. She's averaging a robust 5.60 kills per set, and she's crazy accurate with a .358 hitting percentage. They've got two other attackers averaging more than two kills per set, and sophomore setter Lucija Bojanjac is averaging just short of 11 assists per set. Four different Golden Eagles are averaging at least two digs per set for a well balanced dense, led by 3.90 digs/set from freshman Tori Roe.
Match #5: vs Miami (FL) (3-0)
The Hurricanes join Marquette as the only teams involved in this tournament earning votes in the AVCA top 25. While the Golden Eagles sit at an unofficial 28th place with 64 points, Miami is down at #34 with 22 points in the balloting. I don't think that the winner of this match is going to find themselves automatically in the top 25 next week, but it definitely won't hurt.
After being picked to finish fourth in the ACC this season, The U opened up the season with three wins in their own Hurricane Invitational. They swung through Illinois State and Florida A&M in straight sets, with the closest set coming in their first go-round of the season in the first frame against ISU. Miami got pushed a little bit in their third and final match, eventually coming away with a 3-2 win against Kansas State. They had taken a 2-1 lead, but the Wildcats forced a fifth set that Miami won 15-10.
Miami had two players make the ACC's 18 player preseason all-conference team, and both women are exactly where you'd expect them right now: atop the stat sheet in their category. Olga Strantzali leads the team in kills with 3.40/set, while setter Haley Templeton is tops with 9.70 assists per set. Templeton hasn't played every set the team has played this season, but she played all five against K-State and recorded 55 assists in that match, so I'm guessing her average is a bit down due to substitutions in the other matches. As far as defense goes, Miami has five regulars averaging at least two digs per set, led by Kalysta White at 3.55.
Match #6: at Missouri State (3-0)
When: Saturday, September 5, 2015, at 7:30pm Central
Where: Hammons Student Center in Springfield, MO
Audio/Visual: We're LIVE on The Valley On ESPN3! Neat! Also, live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB
The Bears opened their season at UWM last weekend, and WOOF, it was not a great field. MSU swept Furman and Milwaukee, then got pushed to five sets by Western Michigan. Still, a win is a win for the team that was picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley Conference this season.
Lily Johnson was Missouri State's lone rep on the preseason all-MVC team, and she lived up to the hype on opening weekend. The sophomore outside hitter crushed her way to 5.18 kills per set at the Panther Invitational, although she only hit .208 to get there. Ashley Ophoven, an outside hitter/middle blocker combo player from Ozark, MO, was named the MVC's Freshman of the Week after the opening weekend of the season. She collected 29 kills in MSU's three matches and hit a pretty good .317 along the way. Kinsey Batten knows how to place her passes to her hitters, as she averages exactly 13 assists per set. Emily Butters is holding things down on the back line with 4.36 digs/set, which is impressive for a freshman.