After Saturday night in Chicago, the Big East schedule will be half completed.
Eight matches in the books with Marquette holding a 6-2 record. DePaul represents MU’s last new league opponent for 2016, and from there on out, it’s nothing but return bouts for the Golden Eagles. Marquette has a chance, even with two losses, to raise their odds of making the four team Big East tournament exponentially with a win against the Blue Demons.
Creighton is 6-0 and appears to be the class of the league yet again this season. Marquette is in second, trailed by DePaul at 5-3, then Villanova and Xavier both at 4-3. A win on Saturday gives Marquette a two game lead on the Blue Demons. Either Villanova or Xavier are guaranteed to take a loss when they play each other on Saturday, and they both have a match on Friday night that could end up in a loss as well. The guaranteed loss, though, will send that team to four losses for sure on the season, and that gives MU two games on them in the loss column.
Sure, lots of things could happen between now and Thanksgiving when Butler hosts the league tournament. But to be sitting six weeks out with a two game lead on two of the three teams chasing you? That’s a tantalizing opportunity that Ryan Theis and his players can not take lightly.
This would normally be the spot where we talk about stat milestones. However, Lauren Houg has reached the #2 spot on the all-time digs list and has no chance of catching the all time record, and Sara Blasier needs somewhere between three and five matches worth of assists to reach the #7 all-time spot. There’s a few more things we’ll end up talking about later in the season, but we’re still too far away to bother with those right now.
Big East Match #9: at DePaul (11-9, 5-3 Big East)
Marquette has a 27-29 all time record against DePaul. The Golden Eagles have won each of the last 10 contests, though, dating back to the 2009 season. In addition to that, Marquette has won each of the last five matches in 3-0 sweeps on their way to a 16 set winning streak against the Blue Demons.
This season is already 50% successful for DePaul. With five wins in their first eight league matches, they’ve surpassed the number of league wins they’ve recorded in each of the past three seasons and tied their Big East win total from the year before that, too. They’re still working on last year’s overall win total of 16, but if their second trip through the league schedule is as successful as their first, then they’ll be in pretty good shape to match it.
The rejuvenation of DePaul’s volleyball team coincides with the arrival of Brittany Maxwell on campus. The now-sophomore led the team in kills last year, and now she’s improved on last year’s mark to lead them again at 3.54/set. That’s good enough for fifth best in the Big East. The native of Macomb, Michigan, is also hitting an absurd .320 on the season while leading DePaul in attacks with more than 160 more than the next hitter.
Colleen Smith handles the setting duties for the Blue Demons, and while she’s a senior who’s been there for the last three seasons, I’m suddenly wondering how she’s still there. Go check out her official bio which has her enrolling at Indiana in 2011, playing six sets in four matches for the Hoosiers, then being a “student assistant coach” for a year, then transferring to DePaul and being classified as a “freshman” in 2013, her first year in Lincoln Park. That’s weird, right?
It’s possible that Marquette might have a field day against DePaul. They don’t block well as a team, although Jasmine King provides more than a block of their 1.85 per set average. They’re also the worst digging team in the Big East, averaging just 11.31 per set. For comparison, Marquette has the best dig average in the league at 16.66 and more than half the Big East averages at least 14.