The best attacker in the Big East made a statement for Player of the Year on Thursday night.
Sophomore outside hitter Allie Barber went for TWENTY-ONE kills in just three sets as Marquette shredded their way through #12 ranked Creighton for the 3-0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-21) victory. Marquette is now clear and away in first place in the Big East by themselves at 6-0, while Creighton falls to 4-1 in league play and snaps a 28 match winning streak in league play.
It’s the first win over Creighton for Marquette since the 2013 Big East championship match, and, as that came under the guide of Bond Shymansky, it’s the first win over Creighton for current head coach Ryan Theis. It’s also the first time in program history that Marquette has defeated two ranked teams in a single season. MU knocked off then #20 Hawaii to open this year’s campaign.
Barber was a MACHINE. The 6’5” sophomore from Cedarburg made a statement immediately, recording four kills out of Marquette’s first nine points of the match. She closed the first set with nine kills, putting her well ahead of her usual pace of 4.75 per set coming in that ranks her in the top 10 in the country. It wasn’t that the Marquette offense was running through her, although she had 37 of the team’s 106 total attacks. It was that Barber was ruthlessly efficient. Her effortless power smashed kills to the floor as she hit .541 in the match, committing just one error along the way. Barber was dominant and Creighton had no answer for her, not even when she made the easiest flip over the net in the world that went for a point.
That kind of domination set the tone for the match. Marquette hit no lower than .273 in any of the three sets while keeping Creighton at .100 in the first and -.062 in the second. After a back and forth first 30 points or so, the Golden Eagles uncorked a 10-3 run to close out the first set and that took Creighton completely out of their element. Things went completely out of control for the Jays after that. Marquette exploded out to a 7-2 lead in the second on a kill from (surprise) Barber, and that lead ballooned to 15-5 on a kill from freshman Hope Werch.
For a moment, it seemed like Creighton was dead in the water, but they took the next seven points, and the old standard about boxing came to mind: Sometimes you need to see your own blood before you realize you’re in a fight. All of a sudden it was 15-12 and we had a ball game on our hands..... except Creighton didn’t even trade points with MU. The Golden Eagles took points two at a time, and outdistanced CU before capping off the second set win with a service ace by Manon Geoffroy, one of four in the match for Marquette.
With Creighton on the ropes, Marquette went to work in the third to put them into the ground. BOOM, 3-0 run to start the frame. BOOM, 4-0 run to go up 7-2. The Bluejays pushed back in, but Marquette kept shoving them back out. 3-0 burst to go up 11-6. It got close again in the late stages, with a kill from Jaali Winters pulling Creighton within two at 20-18, but the Jays were their own enemy at this point. Two attack errors put Marquette back up by four. Barber and Werch smashed kills to make it 24-19. Two more points from the Bluejays as they hissed “WE STILL FUNCTION” before Barber ended their night, just like Starscream ended Megatron’s reign as leader of the Decepticons.
Marquette ran roughshod on the Jays, holding them to just .093 hitting in the match, and limiting 2016 Big East Player of the Year Lydia Dimke to just 19 assists on the night. Winters had just eight kills to top the stat sheet for Creighton. On the other side of the net, four Golden Eagles had double digit digs, led by a career high 19 from Anna Haak. Lauren Speckman returned to action with a sleeve on her right calf, and tossed out 39 assists to be her usual one-of-the-best-in-the-country self. She also had four (!) assisted blocks on the night, although Elizabeth Orf had five to lead the team.
Watch the highlights! They come to us courtesy of GoMarquette.com and Spectrum Sports. Four minutes of unadulterated asskicking:
Up Next: Marquette has a less than 24 hour turnaround before Providence shows up at the McGuire Center. The Friars opened up Big East action with a record of 2-2, but they had rattled off 11 straight wins to start the season before that. They may be much improved over the past few seasons, and Ryan Theis will want to impart on his team the importance of avoiding a letdown after maybe the biggest win of his Marquette tenure.