Volleyball is a weird sport sometimes.
Sometimes you go out and impose your will against the #12 team in the country and beat them in a fairly impressive fashion, much like Marquette did against Creighton on Thursday night. Sometimes you have a back and forth match with a team that you should probably beat, but you end up getting the straight sets victory at the end after a bit of work.
Option B there is what happened to Marquette on Friday night, as they beat Providence, 3-0 (25-13, 25-23, 25-21). MU has now won eight straight matches overall, and they sit alone in first place in the Big East at 7-0. Marquette is one up in the loss column on 5-1 Creighton and two up on 4-2 Seton Hall and 3-2 Villanova. In that winning streak, the Golden Eagles have dropped a grand total of one set. Xavier, you’re off the Christmas card list.
Like I said, this was a way different performance than the night before against the ranked Bluejays team. In that one, Marquette had Creighton looking out of sorts the entire night and won each set by an average margin of 7.7 points. Friday evening had Providence hitting over 100 points better than Creighton did, and the average margin of victory was just six points. This, even with MU beating Providence in the first set by a wider margin than any of the three sets against Creighton.
It’s a weird sport sometimes. Or Marquette was on the second day of a back to back, while Providence was only on the front end of a back to back. Maybe it was just that.
The first set was pretty much all Marquette. The Golden Eagles jumped out to an 8-0 lead with star outside hitter Allie Barber sitting on the bench for the first seven points. Six of Marquette’s points came off of Providence errors. While volleyball can be a fickle mistress from time to time, the Golden Eagles maintained their advantage throughout the set. Yes, PC went on a run of their own to cut it to 9-6, but the margin never got closer than three and a 4-0 burst including two kills from Anna Haak midway through the frame pretty much slammed the door on the Friars.
The second set is where Marquette started having problems with Providence. After a back and forth first 10 points left things knotted at five, the Friars used that final point as a jump off spot for a 7-0 run. Providence had to work for their run, with MU only handing them two attack errors for points. The two teams traded points from there, although maybe that’s not totally accurate. Marquette was getting two points against just one at a time for the Friars. It was a slow drift of a comeback before the Golden Eagles snatched the final four points of the set to rally from down 23-21 and win 25-23. All four points were on kills, with two coming from Barber.
With a clean start time for Marquette Madness riding on a Golden Eagles sweep, Providence showed no interest in assisting in the schedule. Marquette took an 8-5 lead early, but that soon turned into an 11-9 lead for PC. MU would tie it back up at 12 before kicking off a 9-3 run to seize control. Still the Friars would not go quietly, as they pushed within three at 21-18 on a block by Cayla Veverka and Lindsey Schaible. An attack error by Haak let Providence pull within three again at 24-21, but Haak made good on her miscue with the match winning kill on the next point.
After a Norse god level performance on Thursday against Creighton, Allie Barber.... well, she didn’t really return to Earth. 15 kills on the night is still a five per set average, and that’s still better than her already top 10 in the country average. Imagine being worse at your job than you were the day before, but still being better than nearly anyone else in the country at your job. That was Allie Barber, who hit .393 in the match and found time for a dig and a block.
Anna Haak and Jenna Rosenthal carried a strong load for the Golden Eagles with 14 and 13 kills respectively. They also combined for 11 digs in the match along with five assisted blocks. Lauren Speckman was on fire, dishing out 43 assists, knocking down both of her attacks for kills, corralling seven digs and even chipped in a block. That’s a strong night for one of the most prolific passers in the country.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and the Marquette Wire. You’ll have to excuse the seemingly empty building, as they were enforcing the wristbands for Madness for the volleyball match.
Up Next: Marquette will be off until next Saturday when they’ll be back out on the road. Villanova (10-6, 3-2 Big East) waits on Saturday, while Georgetown (7-10, 1-4 Big East) will be hosting the Golden Eagles on Sunday. Those two teams will each play two matches in between now and then: first a contest against each other this weekend, then a mid-week contest against Seton Hall and St. John’s respectively.