Question #1 - Can Taylor Louis do it again?
If we’re just basing this on probability, you would have to say it’s unlikely that the same player would break the single season scoring record in consecutive seasons. Last year, Louis became the first player in Marquette history to record 600 kills in a single season. Odds are that she’s not going to do that again this year, particularly when she only finished 11 kills past that milestone.
That doesn’t mean she can’t have an all-time great season, though. Louis is one of just four Golden Eagles to ever eclipse the 500 kill plateau, and if head coach Ryan Theis is going to run his offense through Louis again this year, you’d have to figure that she’s going to be one of the most prolific hitters in the country again this year and easily coast to a top five kills season in program history.
Louis had more than twice as many attacks and kills as any other player on the roster last season, and Marquette brings back essentially the exact same team. Louis will almost assuredly be MU’s leader in those categories again this season, so the only thing really stopping her from being incredibly dominant in 2016 is whether or not senior Joy Miley, redshirt freshman Amanda Green, and freshman Madeline Mosher are successful on their strikes. After all, if they hit for a high percentage, that’s more points for Marquette and fewer swings for Louis.
The crazy thing is that Louis could have a “sophomore slump,” and still win Big East Player of the Year because her team is much better than they were last year. Crazy, huh?
Question #2 - Can Marquette compete for the Big East title this season?
Well, Creighton head coach Kirsten Bernal Booth seems to think so. While her Bluejays got all nine first place votes from the other Big East coaches, she couldn’t vote for her own team. Instead, her vote went to the Golden Eagles.
The rest of the league’s coaches aren’t completely on board with MU as the #2 team, but it would appear that most of them are. Marquette picked up 70 points in the preseason poll, or 61 non-Creighton points. All eight of the other coaches putting Marquette in second would have meant 64 points, which sounds an awful lot like we have three non-believers in the crowd.
Coaches on a national level think Marquette’s the second best team in the league, too. Creighton is starting the season ranked #18 in the country, while Marquette is the only other Big East team getting votes in the AVCA top 25.
We’ll get our first real answer on this question on September 23rd, when Marquette heads down to Omaha to face Creighton for the first of two meetings between the clubs this season. The return bout in Milwaukee is set for October 22nd. Remember, though: Marquette has not beaten Creighton in either of the past two seasons, including a match in the Big East semifinals last year. MU’s last win over the Jays? The 2013 Big East championship match on Creighton’s home court.
Question #3 - Is Marquette Volleyball the most successful sports program on campus?
Both basketball teams have missed the postseason in each of the past two seasons, as have both soccer teams. Women’s lacrosse seems to be building momentum, and men’s lacrosse is making a strong case with a Big East tournament title and the first NCAA tournament appearance in program history in 2016.
You’ve got women’s track and field which will defend their indoor and outdoor Big East titles in 2017, but that didn’t translate into national level success. The same can also be said for the men’s outdoor track team, both in terms of being the defending champs and lack of success at the NCAA meet. Golf, tennis, and cross country are doing fine, but nothing overwhelming.
Meanwhile, Ryan Theis took over a team with three straight NCAA tournament appearances and took them to two more in his first two seasons. MU won a Big East regular season title in 2013 and matched that in the conference tournament, too, and while that came under former coach Bond Shymansky, it’s still part of the run that the volleyball team is currently on.
So, yeah. They are. They’re a contender for this year’s Big East title as well as for a sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance. It’s the most successful team on campus, and all the signs point towards them keeping that title in 2016.