Taylor Louis’ team high 18 kills were not enough for Marquette on Thursday evening as they lost 3-1 (21-25, 25-22, 19-25, 20-25) to Washington State in the first round of the 2016 NCAA tournament. With the loss, Marquette’s season is over with a record of 23-9.
You got the sense that things were not going to go the Golden Eagles’ way in the match when the usually reliable Marquette defense allowed the Cougars to hit .577 in the first set. MU hit .324 in the frame, and after falling behind early, Marquette rallied to keep the match even through the middle portion before WSU seized control late. The second set was tightly contested as well before the Golden Eagles scored four of the last five points to break a 21-all tie and even things at the break.
While Marquette had a hitting advantage in the second frame, things flipped around on the Golden Eagles in the third. Washington State jumped out to an 8-2 lead early and hit .343 against just .103 for Marquette on their way to the 25-19 win. MU had clawed back to a three point deficit midway through the set, but that’s the closest they would come. Washington State took control of the fourth frame with a 6-0 run early capped off by a kill from McKenna Woodford. That gave them an 8-2 lead, and the Cougars pretty much just traded points with Marquette the rest of the way. Kills by Louis and Jenna Rosenthal pulled Marquette back within three at 23-20, but the next two points went to the Cougars, and that was that.
We have to say THANK YOU to Marquette’s seniors: Nicki Barnes, Sara Blasier, Ellen Hays, Lauren Houg, Joy Miley, Meghan Niemann, and Teal Schnurr. These seven women have been a part of building Marquette volleyball into a perennial NCAA tournament team and the most regularly successful program on the Marquette campus. This is a remarkable achievement that can not go unnoticed. This was MU’s sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance and just the sixth tournament appearance in program history. This is literally the high point of volleyball at Marquette, and these seven women have contributed to that apex. While they’ve all had contributions in one way or another, we have to shine a spotlight on Meghan Niemann, Marquette’s all time leader in total blocks and assisted blocks. As a redshirt senior, she has been on the roster for five of Marquette’s six NCAA tournament teams. She wasn’t here for the beginnings of Marquette’s rise under Bond Shymansky, but with four straight All-Big East First Team honors, Niemann has been the cornerstone of Marquette’s continued and ongoing success.
Even with the season coming to an end, there is a reason to be excited to look to the future of Marquette volleyball. With her 18 kills against Washington State, Taylor Louis finishes 2016 with 537 kills. After recording a single season program record 611 kills as a freshman, Louis now has 1,148 career kills.
Taylor Louis enters her junior season needing just 586 kills to break Marquette’s all time career record.