After a strong first set, Marquette dropped the next three to Xavier on their way to a 3-1 (25-16, 20-25, 15-25, 19-25) loss in the Big East semifinals on Friday afternoon.
Marquette is now 23-8 on the season. They’ve lost three of their last four matches, though, with all three losses coming against teams that have almost no shot at an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. As a result, it seems that Marquette’s own chances at a sixth consecutive NCAA bid may be in doubt now.
The Golden Eagles exploded out of the gate, smashing kills at a .458 rate and running away with the first set. There was a note of potential doom in the air, as Marquette’s usually successful hitting defense allowed the Musketeers to hit .320 in the opening frame.
That note turned into a full blown problem in the next two sets as Xavier hit .412 and .343 on their way to take a 2-1 lead and push the Golden Eagles onto the edge of elimination. Things got out of control in the third set as Marquette committed eight errors and couldn’t even manage to break .100 in their hitting percentage. The errors kept coming in the fourth set as MU committed another eight on their way to the match clinching loss.
These errors weren’t a result of the Musketeers shutting down the Marquette offense at the net, either. Xavier recorded just seven team blocks on the day, which means that only seven of Marquette’s 25 errors came on those blocks. Meanwhile, going the other way, Marquette couldn’t get their own block game going to any noticeable degree, recording just two team blocks. Meghan Niemann, Marquette’s all time leader in both total blocks and assisted blocks, and Jenna Rosenthal, who is already on pace to smash Niemann’s records even as a sophomore, both recorded just one assisted block each in the match.
Taylor Louis contributed a match high 16 kills to Marquette’s effort, with Niemann adding 13 and freshman Allie Barber chipping in 12. Xavier was led by 14 kills by Sofia Peterson, who hit a ridiculous .542 in the match, which may or may not have been a personal vendetta against me for not understanding why she was named to the All-Big East First Team.
Up Next: Marquette will have to wait until Sunday, November 27th, to see if they’re in the NCAA tournament. The selection show will air at 8pm Central on ESPNU.