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Marquette Volleyball Preview: vs Xavier

Hey, who likes daytime volleyball?

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Xavier vs DePaul David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

If, and this is a reluctant if, if Villanova is an NCAA tournament team again in 2016, then losing at home to the Wildcats on Saturday evening is not that big of a deal. The Wildcats occupy the #49 slot in the NCAA’s freshly released RPI (Marquette is #44, Creighton is #29), so at least for now, their postseason future remains cloudy.

If Villanova is not an NCAA tournament team, then Marquette wasted a prime opportunity to stay as close to Creighton as possible in the league standings. The Jays are riding high on the league table at 4-0, and if the Big East tournament started today, Marquette would be left out in the cold, as they’re currently in a three way tie for fifth place.

The good news is that between now and the return bout with Creighton, Marquette will be facing off against each of the teams that are between them and the Jays or locked into that 2-2 tie in league play. That starts on Wednesday afternoon, when Xavier comes to town. Why Wednesday afternoon? I have no idea, other than it’s Kids’ Day, and “multiple local schools will be in attendance to watch the Golden Eagles and enjoy great concession deals.” It is Homecoming Week, and maybe they didn’t want to have two events (men’s soccer hosts Wisconsin on Wednesday night) going on at the same time.

Lauren Houg Update: With Meghan Niemann grabbing the Marquette career assisted block record, we only have Lauren Houg’s run at second place in digs to keep an eye on right now. With 301 on the season, she’s up to 1,510 for her career, which has her 57 short of Jamie Mueller in second place all time.

Big East Match #5: vs Xavier (8-9, 2-2 Big East)

When: Wednesday, October 4, 2016, at 12pm CT
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: GoMarquette.com has a free video stream & there’s live stats.
Special Promotion: MU employees get in for free (during their workday) & there’s $2 hot dogs & $1 sodas.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB & @xaviervball

Marquette holds a 9-7 all time series lead over Xavier, with a 7-5 margin since the Golden Eagles moved to Division 1 in 1986.

Hey, remember when Xavier’s Abbey Bessler won Big East Player of the Year last year on a team that finished 18-12 overall? That was fun, and by “fun,” I mean “a horrifying miscarriage of justice.”

You know what’s not fun, at least for the Musketeers? Opening up 8-9 this year while returning their top three attackers and five of their top six, both halves of their two-headed setter, and their libero. Whatcha doin, Xavier? Well, the actual answer is “exactly what they did last year.” The Musketeers were 4-6 entering league play a year ago, then they went 14-4 against Big East foes. This year? 6-7. The problem here is that this kind of non-conference slate has essentially handcuffed Xavier’s chances of making the NCAA tournament, and if it hasn’t pretty much been eliminated, opening up 2-2 in league play is definitely not helping.

Bessler is still the Xavier leader in kills this season, basically doing what she did last year at 3.70 kills/set while hitting .240. Sofia Peterson and Kristen Massa, both averaging 2.59 kills, are more than helpful sidekicks. Mackenzi Humm and McKena Estes share time at setter, with both averaging under six assists per set, but they’ve both played in every single set this season. The Musketeers kind of play a team defense setup, because Meredith Klare only averages 3.92 digs, and Bessler, for all her offensive prowess, is second on the team with 2.49 digs/set.