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Marquette Volleyball Preview: vs Butler

From here on out, it’s nothing but weekend action for the Golden Eagles as they chase a sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance.

NCAA Basketball: Butler Bulldogs v Purdue Boilermakers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

As things stand right now, Marquette volleyball has a 15-4 record on the season and a 5-2 record in league play. They’re in a tie for second place in the Big East at the moment, although there are 10 more matches to play after tonight. We don’t know what will happen over the rest of the season, but what we do know is this: Marquette needs to stack up wins.

MU is in search of their sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance. They’re definitely on track for it right now, but here’s the situation: Creighton has an RPI of 23. Marquette is at 41, which might be trending towards the outside of the tournament. Villanova, who already beat Marquette, is at #56, DePaul is #67, and no one else in the Big East is in the top 100. Four teams are sub-150, two are sub-200. Marquette CAN. NOT. AFFORD. to take on losses.

One more match with Creighton, this time at home. A road trip to Villanova. Both bouts against DePaul. And then seven matches against teams that if you were to lose to them, would come gosh darn near scuttling your season. MU already played with fire by going to five sets with a not good St. John’s team. They can’t do it again. I know it’s a rough setup there, but until someone else in the Big East starts performing as a perennial tournament team, this is just how it’s going to have to be.

Sara Blasier Watch: The senior setter has moved into the #9 spot on the all-time assists chart. She’s sitting on 1,879 for her 1+ year Marquette career, and the #8 spot is clearly in view for Wednesday night. Kristen Kemmeter has 1,908 assists in her career, which is only 29 away.

Lauren Houg Watch: At an even five digs per set, Houg is set to pass Jamie Mueller for #2 all time in career digs. Houg is sitting on 1,554 in her career, and Mueller has 1,567. That’s just 13 away and a volleyball match has to go at least three sets, which would give Houg 15 digs if she hits her average.

Jenna Rosenthal Watch: I don’t have an actual stat to keep an eye on here, as Rosenthal isn’t closing on anything historical. However, after going bananas at the net last weekend with nearly three blocks per set, she deserves all of our collective attention.

Big East Match #8: vs Butler (13-9, 2-4 Big East)

When: Wednesday, October 12, 2016, at 7pm CT
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: GoMarquette.com has a free video stream & there’s live stats.
Special Promotion: Coffee, hot cider, & donuts for students, plus a chance to win FREE TEXTBOOKS next semester.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB & @ButlerVB

Marquette is 8-6 all time against Butler, but be advised: The Golden Eagles have won seven out of the last eight meetings.

After a non-conference schedule where they went 11-5 and a 2-1 start to conference play, Butler has dropped each of their last three Big East contests and now they’re 2-4. This doesn’t mean that the Bulldogs are struggling, though. The losses are to Creighton, DePaul, and Xavier, all of whom are in the top half of the standings right now, and the DePaul and Xavier contests went to five sets.

Their league record might look that way right now, and they’re a long ways away from one of the four Big East tournament spots, but Butler is by no means a bad team. They’re right in the middle of the pack in hitting percentage, opponents’ hitting percentage, and kills. In fact, they’re one of the better blocking teams in the league, averaging more than two per set. One thing I noticed when Marquette was playing Georgetown is that the Golden Eagles have a ridiculous amount of height on their roster. Their front line players are all over 6-feet tall, and when Jenna Rosenthal (6’6”) and Allie Barber (6’5”) are both in the game, the advantage is absurd. Butler’s three primary attackers are all 6-foot and up, but it’s the 5’11” Jessica Klingensmith that leads them in blocks per set at 0.95.

Anna Logan might be the most overlooked player in the Big East, as the hometown star for Butler is second only to MU’s Taylor Louis in kills. In fact, Logan and Louis are the only two attackers averaging more than 3.70 kills/set, and they’re both above 4.40. Makayla Ferguson can go assist-for-assist with Sara Blasier, with both women averaging 9.81 per frame. Taylor Takeda, a Hawaii native who transferred in this past offseason after Dowling College ceased operations, leads the team in digs at 3.95 per set. That’s only seventh best in the Big East, and it’s Logan who ranks second on the team.