For the second time this season, Villanova forced Marquette volleyball to a decisive fifth set. On Saturday night, the Golden Eagles were luckier than they were earlier this season, and Ryan Theis’ team came away with the 3-2 (25-14, 25-27, 25-10, 20-25, 15-11) victory to close out the home slate in the regular season. With just one match remaining, Marquette now sits at 14-3 in Big East action and 20-8 overall.
It’s the eighth straight season with 20 or more wins for the Golden Eagles. MU now sits just one win away from clinching the #2 seed in the Big East tournament. However, they might not even need it. Butler currently sits in third place at 11-4, and the Bulldogs will play twice before MU closes the regular season on the road against DePaul. If Butler were to lose either match, Marquette couldn’t finish lower than second place in the league. Of course, if Butler were to win on Sunday against Creighton, well, that would actually open the door a crack to MU winning the regular season title.
Let’s call it “mixed emotions” for that match, eh?
Here’s what happened with Marquette on Saturday: If they imposed their will on the Wildcats, they won the set. If not, VU won the set. I know, it seems overly simple, but it’s the case. MU hit .434 in the three sets they won and just .215 in the two losses. Conversely, the Golden Eagles held VU to a hitting percentage of merely .107 in their three wins, but allowed the Wildcats to hit .267 in the other two.
Sometimes the game is just that simple, y’know?
The first set was governed by a 9-0 Marquette run that turned a 10-8 Villanova lead into a 17-10 Marquette advantage. Allie Barber posted four kills in the run, while Jenna Rosenthal was showing out in the first frame for the second night in a row, racking up three kills in the run. VU showed some life, but MU scored the final six points straight to put an end to that one.
Things started out well for MU in the second, as they got out to a 5-2 lead early and expanded the lead to four at 16-12 on a kill by Madeline Mosher. VU just clawed their way back in from there, eventually tying the match at 20-all on a service ace by Emma Decker. The two teams jousted back and forth, with MU staving off set point twice before a block on Barber by Decker and Allie Olsonoski gave the Wildcats the extra points win.
That may have lit a fire for MU, as they exploded out to a 17-3 lead in the third and coasted to the easy win to push Nova to the brink. Villanova got themselves a three point lead early in the fourth set, but MU stayed within shouting distance. The Golden Eagles couldn’t quite tie it, though, and when VU turned a 19-18 match into 23-18, the book was pretty much closed on Marquette.
That sent things to a fifth set, and MU put their best foot forward to end all discussion early. Marquette jumped out to a 4-0 lead before pushing things out to 9-2 on a solo block by Rosenthal. You’d think that might have been enough to break the Wildcats’ spirit, but they made this interesting. Two straight errors by Barber pulled nova within four at 10-6, and an error by Rosenthal made the score 13-10. Nova would catch a break on MU’s first try at match point as Mosher committed a service error, but Rosenthal put a bow on the match on the next point.
Allie Barber and Anna Haak were riding high all match long, tying for a match high in kills with 25 each. Haak had the more impressive night, hitting .444 and picking up a team high 23 digs as well. The kills total is a new career best for the Swedish hitter, while the digs number matches her previous career best. It was the fifth double-double of the season for Haak, while Lauren Speckman posted her team high seventh double-double on 57 assists and 14 digs.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and Marquette Wire?
Up Next: It’s an easy finish to the regular season for the Golden Eagles. Most of the Big East will play again on Sunday before playing two more matches next weekend. Meanwhile, Marquette drew a final weekend against DePaul, their travel partner. The Blue Demons are just 8-20 overall and 2-14 in Big East action. They’ve lost eight straight matches and have won just one set in their last six contests.