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2017 Big East Volleyball Championship Preview: #1 Creighton Bluejays vs #2 Marquette Golden Eagles

One team hoists the trophy at the end of the day.

Lousiana-Lafayette v Creighton Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

2017 Big East Volleyball Championship

#1 Creighton Bluejays vs #2 Marquette Golden Eagles

Date: Saturday, November 25, 2017
Time: 1:30pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Television: FS2
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Live Stats: GameTracker
Season Series: 1-1, with each team winning at home
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

And now, the rubber match, to settle who really is the best team in the Big East this season.

Back on October 5th, Marquette held Creighton to just .093 hitting and only let the Bluejays score 17 or more points in one set as the Golden Eagles picked up the sweep and full control of the Big East standings at the time. Marquette headed out to Omaha almost exactly one month later, and things were quite different then. Not only did MU make the trip with two league losses on their backs, but the Jays were the dominant team in their home barn. In this case, it was Marquette failing to crack .100 in the hitting percentage department, and it was the Bluejays getting the 3-0 win.

Once more, with feeling, such as it is.

Marquette and Creighton will cross swords once more on Saturday afternoon, this time with the Big East championship at stake. While the Bluejays are looking to win their fourth straight Big East tournament title, Marquette is looking to acquire a little bit more than their second ever conference championship. Heading into Friday’s semifinal match with Butler, Marquette held the #32 spot in the RPI. According to Creighton sports information director Rob Anderson, the win over #54 Butler has elevated the Golden eagles to #31. Exciting! With 32 automatic bids to the NCAA tournament and 32 at-large spots available, an RPI right around 30 is probably good enough to get Marquette in, and the mere act of playing #10 Creighton is going to be helpful for MU’s overall picture.

Of course, if Marquette beats the Bluejays at the Al McGuire Center for the second time this season, well, they’ll be in automatically, and that would be pretty fun.

What we have here is a clash of two styles. Marquette runs their offense through sophomore outside hitter and Big East Player of the Year Allie Barber. The Cedarburg native leads the Big East in kills this season at 4.80/set and she’s been responsible for more than 30% of MU’s attacks on the year. You’ll see opportunities go to freshman Hope Werch and junior Anna Haak, but the powerful 6’5” Barber is the centerpiece.

On the Creighton side of the net, they’re more than happy to go with whatever is working for them on a particular day. If they need a kill, they’ll probably turn to Jaali Winters. The junior from Ankeny, Iowa, has racked up over 1,000 swings on the season and averages 3.46 kills/set to lead the team. However, Winters provides less than 28% of the offense, and Taryn Kloth (3.07/set) and Marysa Wilkinson (2.86/set) aren’t that far behind her in the kills department.

It’s the best hitting team in the league (Creighton, .281) against the second best team (Marquette, .274). It’s the 2nd best hitting defense (Creighton, .183) against the third best (Marquette, .194). It’s the best passing team in the Big East (Marquette, 13.58 assists/set) against the second best (Creighton, 13.31). Best in kills (Marquette, 14.38/set) vs 2nd best (Creighton, 14.37). Second best in digs (Creighton, 16.08/set) vs third best (Marquette, 15.69).

Something will have to give on Saturday afternoon. The team that doesn’t blink first is going to be holding that Big East trophy high in the air.