Thanks to a ridiculous weekend from redshirt sophomore Taylor Louis, Marquette volleyball went 3-0 in the Marquette Invitational, which was, yes, hosted by the Golden Eagles. The trio of victories moves MU to 10-2 on the season as they head to Big East play next weekend.
Marquette’s three wins came against Iowa State on Friday night, followed up by a matinee victory against UW-Milwaukee and a nightcap of relative excitement against Missouri State on Saturday. MU dropped just one set in the three matches, falling 25-21 in the first frame to MSU.
The first and last victory are the most notable ones as far as the big picture goes. Both Iowa State and Missouri State were, like Marquette, receiving votes in the most recent AVCA poll before the weekend started. The Cyclones were sitting five spots outside the top 25, while the Bears were only two spots short after picking up two wins over top 15 teams earlier in the season. I’m not saying that Marquette can make the jump from 13 places outside the top 25 into the rankings when the new poll comes out on Monday afternoon, but when you personally hand losses to two of the teams that are in front of you, it tends to help your case a bit.
Louis was named MVP of the tournament that Marquette was participating in for the second straight weekend and, perhaps thanks to sleeping in her own bed on Thursday and Friday night, she was better than the week before, at least in terms of kills average. Louis averaged 5.7 kills in 10 sets while hitting .277. It must be pointed out that Louis got to this mark by taking it easy against UWM with just 10 kills on 30 error free swings. Considering that she more than doubled her number of attacks against Missouri State in the night session, it’s clear that was a coaching move to keep Louis fresh for the match against the much more capable Bears. Louis also averaged 1.6 digs and 0.6 blocks, which are both perfectly respectable numbers for someone who is absolutely murdering the ball on the attack.
Louis was joined on the all-tournament team by Meghan Niemann and Lauren Houg, both of whom were all-tourney picks a week ago as well. Niemann averaged 2.1 kills on the weekend and committed just two errors on 42 swings on her way to hitting .452. She also chipped in 1.2 blocks per set, which is high quality regardless of how you want to break that down. Houg was better than her usual Libero of the Year candidate performances, averaging 5.8 digs in Marquette’s 10 sets.
Sara Blasier missed out on the all-tourney team after making it in last week, but that was by choice from the MU coaching staff in a manner of speaking. Much like Louis’ attacking burden was lessened against UWM, Blasier came off the bench and shared time with freshman Lauren Speckman. She finished that match with just 19 assists, and thus finished the weekend averaging only 9.3 assists per set. Blasier also averaged 1.4 kills, 2.0 digs, 0.9 blocks, and hit .667, so it’s not like she was slacking the rest of the time.
Let’s wrap up with some highlight videos, courtesy of GoMarquette.com:
Up Next: It’s time for the start of the Big East schedule, and Marquette gets thrown directly into their biggest test of the league schedule. They’ll open up conference play with the road trip to Omaha when they play Creighton on Friday night. The Bluejays are 6-6 on the season, but don’t be confused: Five of the losses are to ranked teams and the sixth is to the Wichita State squad that beat Marquette. MU will get Providence on Sunday as they start the season out with the worst road trip in the Big East (Friday night in Nebraska, Sunday afternoon in Rhode Island) out of the way in the very first weekend of league play.