Big East Women’s Volleyball Tournament Semifinals
#2 Marquette Golden Eagles (21-8, 15-3) vs #3 Butler Bulldogs (23-7, 13-5)
Date: Friday November 24, 2017
Time: 2:30 PM CT, or following the end of Creighton/Villanova
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go
Live Stats: GameTracker
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB
Season Series: Split 1-1, with each team winning on the road
Here it is folks. After writing numerous regular season previews from the last week of August to the third week of November it is finally post season time. Marquette finished the regular season at 21-8 overall and 15-3 in the conference. 15-3 in the Big East was good enough for second seed in the conference tournament. The Golden Eagles will now face Butler in the semifinals at the Al McGuire Center on Friday. Marquette split the season series against the Bulldogs with Marquette sweeping Butler in Indianapolis and Butler taking Marquette down in five in Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles will now look for revenge this Friday.
The last time Marquette played Butler at the Al, it did not go to well. Bri Lilly and Whitney Beck played out of their minds and Makayla Ferguson got her hands on everything. It took Butler five sets to beat Marquette even though they played so well that day. You could say Marquette was affected by the lack of student fans and even a band due to the game being over midterm break, but on the flip side, Butler had kicked things into high gear. That match was in the middle of a run for the Bulldogs where they won 11 of their final 13 matches of the season, with just losses to Creighton marring their record.
Like I said before, Bri Lilly and Whitney Beck were the leaders in kills last match and that is who Marquette will have to keep an eye out for in this match. Along with Lilly and Beck, Anna Logan and Natalie Ravenell both played well as well. Butler has five players averaging over 2 kills per set, meaning setter Makayla Ferguson can spread the ball around, and is happy to do so as well. Beck is the leader on the team with 349 kills (3.09 k/s). Look for Elizabeth Orf, Jenna Rosenthal and Anna Haak to have their blocking shoes this weekend.
Makayla Ferguson is still setting for the Bulldogs and she has been pretty great all season. She finished third in the conference behind two outstanding setters this season, averaging 10.63 assists per set. She had 54 assists in the upset over Marquette. Something also to take note of: Bri Lilly is first in the conference in blocks with 1.24 blocks per set.
The matchup carries a lot of weight for both squads. Through November 19th, Marquette has an RPI of just 32. That has them dangerously close to the cut line for the NCAA tournament, and they can not afford another home loss to Butler, who sits at #54 in the RPI. Even if they would jump into the top 50 with the win, that’s probably not particularly helpful for the Golden Eagles’ at-large chances. In Butler’s case, as good as they have been down the stretch, it’s not going to be enough to earn them an at-large bid. They need to hoist the Big East trophy on Saturday night in order to make the 64 team national championship, and their path to that trophy starts with a win over the Golden Eagles.
I like this matchup a lot. Butler poses a bit of threat to the Golden Eagles, but I know this team loves a challenge. I say Marquette takes this one in four sets. This team has been playing outstanding volleyball all season, they started out the Big East schedule on absolute fire and once they came back to Earth they continued to play good volleyball. Marquette in four, book it!