Marquette Volleyball went 2-1 on their weekend trip to Kansas for the Shocker Volleyball Classic. They defeated IUPUI (25-16, 25-14, 25-15) fairly simply, got past Cincinnati (25-21, 19-25, 25-20, 25-21) with relative ease, and then went out in straight sets (25-14, 25-22, 25-20) to host Wichita State.
MU is now 4-2 on the season, and that’s not entirely a surprising result at this point of the season. With USC, Santa Clara, and Wichita State all coming off of NCAA tournament appearances a year ago, it was probably going to be hard to come away with wins against all three of those squads. Marquette got maybe the highest value win, defeating at the time #7 USC in the season opener. We’ll see what happens to the Trojans as the season goes on (they started 0-3), but they did just knock off a ranked Creighton team over the weekend. The Golden Eagles dropped the the other two, which, generally speaking, is fine. It’s hard to beat teams that are going to be in the NCAA tournament.
However, if Marquette wants to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history, they’re going to need to be able to beat these teams on a regular basis. In fact, they need to be able to beat top 16 teams to get there, as the NCAA sends the first two rounds to the top 16 teams in the field.
But that’s an issue for down the road.
Marquette shredded IUPUI in their first match of the weekend, holding IUPUI below .170 in all three frames while never hitting lower than .229 themselves. Even when the Golden Eagles dipped that low in the second set, they still played outstanding defense, pushing IUPUI into a negative hitting percentage. Taylor Louis crushed it with 18 kills in just three sets while hitting a fantastic .444, but the stars of the show might have actually been Jenna Rosenthal and Amanda Green, who combined for an error free .700 hitting performance on their way to 14 combined kills. IUPUI never had more than 16 points in any of the three sets and none of their hitters got to nine kills, much less the double digit plateau, so I don’t know if there’s much else to say here.
The Golden Eagles didn’t have the hitting advantage in every set against Cincinnati on Saturday, but they still won the overall battle, .246 to .200. Meghan Niemann was the star of this one, recording 15 kills on just 29 attacks. Louis was right behind her with 14, and Rosenthal tacked on another 11. MU got the 3-1 win over the Bearcats, but the favorites to win the American Athletic Conference provided a more competitive match than IUPUI. Cincy pushed Marquette in each frame, getting to at least 20 points in each of their three losses.
I don’t think it’s fair to say that Marquette unraveled against Wichita State in the tournament’s finale, but they did stick themselves in a hole with a 25-14 loss in the first frame. The next two sets were closer, and Marquette even jumped out to leads of 7-2 and 13-9 in the second frame before eventually falling. The Golden Eagles were right there with the Shockers in the third set until the end, when four MU errors in the closing points tipped things in favor of the home team. Louis was the only Golden Eagle to get to double digits in kills, recording 13 against WSU but hitting just .125 to get there.
Louis and Rosenthal were named to the all-tournament team. Louis averaged 4.5 kills and 2.8 digs per set while hitting .232, and Rosenthal didn’t commit an error at all in the first two matches before finishing with 2.8 kills per set and a hitting percentage of .455. Rosenthal also contributed 0.8 blocks per set in the tournament.
Up Next: Nothing ever gets easy in the non-conference section of the schedule for the Golden Eagles, who are looking to qualify for their sixth straight NCAA tournament this season. They’ll be in the Bluegrass State next weekend for a tournament hosted by Kentucky. MU will open with Saint Louis (1-6) on Friday morning, then play the Wildcats (3-3) that night before finishing with Virginia (3-3) on Saturday afternoon. Kentucky was ranked #23 in the country this past week, but they had losses to unranked but now 3-3 USC and unranked Northern Iowa pinned around a win over #22 Creighton this weekend. I’d guess they’ll be unranked in the new poll, but who knows.