Allie Barber knocked down a match high 18 kills on Friday night as Marquette defeated Xavier in straight sets, 25-19, 25-19, 25-23. With the win, the Golden Eagles move to 9-1 in Big East play and maintain a half-game advantage over 8-1 Creighton.
The win did not come easy for Marquette, even though the Musketeers continue to play without star hitter Kristin Massa. MU hit just .230 in the match and outside of a couple of flareups that were the difference, Xavier played Marquette tight through all three sets.
For example, in the first set, Marquette was up by just one after the first 19 points had been scored. Two kills from Barber and two errors from Xavier later, and MU had themselves a five point lead at 14-9. From there, the score in the opening frame was 11-10, but since the Golden Eagles had that slight burst in the middle, it looks like a relatively comfortable victory.
The second set was even closer, with XU’s Laura Grossman knotting the thing up at 13 each. That’s when Xavier lost control of the thing, allowing Marquette to rattle off the next eight straight. Marquette forced the Musketeers into miscues for points in that run, including two errors, two service aces, and a block by Madeline Mosher. Again, though, the Musketeers stiffened up and scored six of the next 10 points. The only problem was that MU was already up to 21 and those four points closed things out in the frame.
Things continued towards a neck-and-neck race in the third with the Golden Eagles needed a kill from Elizabeth Orf to even the stanza at 10 each. Things turned in Xavier’s favor for the first time all evening, as the Musketeers eventually found themselves with an 18-13 lead on a kill by Maya Krause. Unlike Marquette in the first set, though, Xavier was unable to hold onto that lead. An 8-3 push by the Golden Eagles evened the set at 21-all, and the teams traded points up to 23. If you were expecting an “We have Allie Barber and you don’t” here, sorry to disappoint. It was Anna Haak and Jenna Rosenthal who provided the dramatic final two points of the comeback and brought an end to Friday night’s action at the minimum requirement.
No one else had a particularly great day on offense for Marquette outside of Barber thanks to Xavier handing MU 29 points on errors of various kinds. However, Hope Werch found other ways to contribute, adding 18 digs and an ace to her eight kills. Jenna Rosenthal had a bananas four solo blocks, plus one partnered stuff and a dig. Lauren Speckman continued to build on her chase for the best assist average in the country (entering the weekend, she was 3rd at 12.28/set, trailing Florida Atlantic’s Ivone Martinez at 13.00) by throwing up 44 helpers even though Marquette only recorded 49 kills in the match.
How about some highlights, courtesy of the Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go?
Up Next: It’s a very quick turnaround for the Golden Eagles, as they’ll be back out on the Al McGuire Court at 6pm on Saturday. Butler will be the opponent, with the Bulldogs (16-6, 6-4 Big East) coming off of a 3-0 win over DePaul on Friday night. For those of you tracking the league standings, Creighton tangles with Seton Hall in Omaha at 1pm on Sunday.