If you were in the McGuire Center on Saturday night, you got to see quite the variety of volleyball as Marquette defeated DePaul, 3-0 (25-19, 25-9, 30-28). Marquette is now 11-5 on the season and 5-0 in Big East play, with just one set lost in their last six matches.
The first thing that the Marquette faithful in attendance got to see was a rally. DePaul jumped out to a 7-2 lead on the Golden Eagles in what would mildly be called a shock to the system. The Blue Demons came into the match with a record of 7-9 and 1-3 in Big East action, so it was a bit surprising to see them explode out of the gate like that. But, like I said, there was a rally to be had. After MU trimmed the lead to just two at 10-8 and Myah Reed put DePaul back up three, the Golden Eagles seized control of the set with a 10-0 run. Most of the run was merely Allie Barber doing her best wrecking ball impression, as she recorded five kills in the streak. DePaul also couldn’t get out of their own way while trying to snap the streak, as they committed three attacking errors for Marquette points. From there, it was mostly academic as MU closed out the set.
The second set was that rarest of rare events: a volleyball shutout. Ok, look, with the scoring system being what it is, it is next to impossible to actually shut out a team, 25-0. However, it’s still extremely hard to keep a team under 10 points, so holding a foe to nine or fewer in a set should be treated like a shutout. That’s what Marquette did in the second, and by the way: DePaul led 4-3 at one point. MU scored the next nine points, though, and then they closed out with another 6-0 run for the 25-9 decimation. The 9-0 run was powered by Jenna Rosenthal, who had two kills and two assisted blocks, while the 6-0 closeout was a team effort, including two kills from Barber and a service ace from freshman setter Sarah Rose as the clinching point.
DePaul apparently had enough of these blowout runs after that, and thus, the third set was a tight one. Marquette’s biggest advantage came midway through the frame when a Manon Geoffroy ace capped off a 4-0 run to put the Golden Eagles up 16-12. The Blue Demons scored the next three, though, and while it was close, it looked like MU might be able to sneak their way to the finish line. A kill from Barber had Marquette up 23-21 late, so they just needed to score two points before DePaul could get three. That didn’t happen, as a kill from Caitlyn Coffey knotted the match at 24, and thus, the fans were treated to EXTRA POINTS! The two teams traded situations at set point, first DePaul, then Marquette. Back and forth they went with no one able to get to the mandatory two-point margin needed for victory. Brittany Maxwell had DePaul on the brink of forcing a fourth set with a kill to go up 28-27, but Marquette has Allie Barber and DePaul does not. The sophomore from Cedarburg put down her 18th, 19th, and 20th kills of the night to wrap up the MU win at 30-28.
As you can probably guess, Barber led all attackers on the night with her 20 kills, and her .594 hitting percentage on the night was pretty darn great, too. Rosenthal was not to be outdone, though, as the redshirt junior from Fond Du Lac had nine kills on 14 swings to hit .643. As dominant as those two were, this was still an incredible team performance, as the installation of Rose into the starting lineup did not affect the Golden Eagles in the slightest. Lauren Speckman, who ranks fourth in the country in assists per set, was not dressed to play on Saturday night, but the MU offense clicked along anyway. Marquette hit .365 as a team and the hitters put down Rose’s passes with ease, handing the freshman from Elmhurst, Illinois, 41 assists in her first career start. That’s quite the performance from someone who had played in just 11 of Marquette’s previous 54 sets.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and the Marquette Wire?
Up Next: It’s moment of truth time for the Golden Eagles. On Thursday, they will be asked to defend the Al McGuire Center against Creighton. The Bluejays are currently ranked #14 in the country, 11-4 overall, 4-0 in Big East action, and winners of their last four matches. I don’t want to get out of control with my statements here, but since there will be only one undefeated team in the Big East after this match, I think we can safely say that the regular season title is riding on the outcome.