clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Marquette Volleyball Weekend Preview: The Shocker Volleyball Classic

The Golden Eagles are in Wichita for another two day, three match tournament.

Vanderbilt v Wichita State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Marquette volleyball is 2-1 in 2016 after they got caught in a little bit of a timing game out west last weekend. They got started on a high note, defeating at the time #7 USC on Friday night. They were back in action 14 hours later, and slightly delayed, against UC-Irvine. The Golden Eagles survived the Anteaters in five sets, and because of the slightly delayed start, MU had just two hours off before coming back to face a Santa Clara team that 1) made the NCAA tournament and 2) knocked off USC in the match before Marquette-UCI.

We can’t be terribly surprised that Marquette ended up scuffling a bit when playing two matches in a 6 hour window, all less than 24 hours since starting a match against a preseason top 10 team. It happens. 2-1 was a good result for the weekend going in, and that’s where they ended up. The hope, of course, is that USC figures their deal out at some point this season, since the Trojans lost all three matches last weekend to match their loss total from all of the 2015 season and are now unranked.

Even if Marquette’s matches all go to five sets this weekend, they’ll still end up with 15 hours between matches 1 and 2, then another 7-plus hours between matches 2 and 3. That should allow for a much fresher Golden Eagles squad for each contest. Considering that the team that’s getting votes in the newest AVCA poll is the third and final opponent of the weekend, that will be quite a boon for Marquette.

As the weekend went on, Marquette’s offense got more and more diverse. Taylor Louis finished the 2015 season averaging just barely short of 13 attacks per set. So far this season, through 13 sets, Louis is averaging just 9.6. The question is whether that is an intentional coaching tactic by head coach Ryan Theis or something brought about by fatigue with three matches in less than 24 hours. For what it’s worth, even in the first match against USC, Louis averaged just slightly more than 10 attacks in those four sets.

13 of Marquette’s 16 players saw action last week, with 10 of them playing in at least 10 of the tournament’s 13 sets. It’s not entirely surprising that Nicki Barnes didn’t get on the court, but I was surprised to not see both Teal Schnurr and Abby Julian. Schnurr may be getting squeezed off the court as Jenna Rosenthal requires more playing time in the middle, but she did earn a significant amount of playing time during conference action last year. Julian is a redshirt freshman, and as a setter/defensive specialist combo, there may just not be any space on the court for her with three seniors occupying the rotation space.

Match #4: vs IUPUI (2-2)

When: Friday, September 2, 2016, at 4:30pm CT
Where: Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, KS
Audio/Visual: Just live stats. I respect USC’s usage of their TV money slightly more now.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB & @IUPUIJaguars

This is the third all-time meeting between the Golden Eagles and the Jaguars. Marquette won both of the first two meetings by a final of 3-1, with the most recent one coming last season in the McGuire Center.

What’s worse: going 1-2 in your opening weekend tournament against not particularly impressive opponents or going 1-2 in the opening weekend tournament that you’re hosting against not particularly impressive opponents? Gonna have to go with B, and that’s what the Jaguars did last weekend. A pair of 3-1 losses to Duquesne and Southern Illinois brackets around a sweep of Central Michigan was how they started out the season, and they tacked on a random one-off road trip to Ball State to get back to .500 right now.

This is really not a great start for an IUPUI team that went 21-10 a year ago. Their 12-4 mark in the Summit League was good enough for second place, and they’re picked to finish third this season. The SL doesn’t have a preseason all-conference team, but they do have a preseason watch list. IUPUI is repped on that list by junior Kori Waelbroeck, who averaged 2.37 kills/set a year ago (2nd best on the team) and hit .317.

Waelbroeck is one of two Jaguars to eclipse the 100 attack mark already this season, and she’s averaging 4.00 kills per frame. She’s only hitting .238, though, so perhaps Marquette will be able to force her into a few errors here and there. Senior setter Alexis Mapes is on fire for IUPUI, averaging better than 11 helpers a frame, and four players are averaging at least two digs per set, led by Jessica Helms at 3.33.

Match #5: vs Cincinnati (2-1)

When: Saturday, September 3, 2016, at 10am CT
Where: Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, KS
Audio/Visual: Just live stats. I respect USC’s usage of their TV money slightly more now.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB & @GoBearcatsVB

Marquette has won just seven of their 36 encounters with the Bearcats. The two teams haven’t seen each other since The Reformation with MU sweeping UC in their final meeting to snap a six match losing streak.

I suppose there’s nothing wrong with going to Tennessee for a tournament and coming away with only a loss to the hosting Volunteers. I mean, Tennessee is picked to finish ninth in the 13 team SEC, so it’s not great, but hey road game, etc. Then again, the Bearcats are the preseason favorite to win the AAC regular season title, so maybe it’s not so great.

Cincy picked up seven of the 11 first place votes in the preseason polling, but the really fun part was sophomore outside hitter Jordan Thompson being named preseason AAC Player of the Year. Thompson was on the all-AAC preseason team, of course, and she was joined by fellow sophomore OH Carly Nolan.

As you might expect, Thompson and Nolan are 1-2 on the team in kills after three sets, with Thompson averaging 4.64 per frame. As a team, Cincinnati is not a strong bunch of hitters, as they’re hitting .220 and Thompson’s .259 is the only notable attacker over .200 right now. Elly Ogle is leading the team in assists at 8.4 per set, but she’s been sharing time with Jade Tinglehoff.

Match #6: at Wichita State (1-1)

When: Saturday, September 3, 2016, at 7:30pm CT
Where: Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, KS
Audio/Visual: ESPN3/WatchESPN will have the video streaming, plus there’s live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB & @GoShockersVB

Marquette has never defeated the Shockers in three attempts. WSU took six of the first seven sets between the two squads back in 1988 and 1992, but it took them five sets to defeat Marquette last season.

Yes, the Shockers are just 1-1 to start the season. They’re also sitting two points back of Marquette in the Receiving Votes department of the latest AVCA poll, largely because of their thrilling five set win over formerly #18 Creighton last weekend. So, yeah, might be hard for Marquette to get their first ever win over Wichita State if they’re capable of beating a team that MU has lost five straight matches to at this point.

WSU actually rallied from a 0-2 hole in that match which is more important and impressive than it even seems at first glance. They had been swept by Iowa State the day before and it’s bad news for a team coming off an NCAA tournament appearance to open with a six set losing streak, regardless of the quality of the opponents.

A year ago, Wichita State won the Missouri Valley regular season and tournament titles, and with five starters returning, they’re the favorites to do that again in 2016. The Shox put two players on the preseason all-MVC team - junior middle blocker Abbie Lehman and junior setter Emily Hiebert - but it’s senior hitter Jody Larson that’s leading the team in kills right now at three per frame. Lehman is averaging 2.38 kills and 1.25 blocks, while Hiebert’s 7.00 assists average is surprisingly low.