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2017 NCAA Volleyball Tournament Preview: Marquette Golden Eagles vs Wisconsin Badgers

The Golden Eagles put their dancing shoes on to go to Iowa to take on the instate rival Badgers

NCAA Football: Purdue at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

2017 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament

Marquette Golden Eagles (22-9) vs Wisconsin Badgers (20-9)

Date: Friday, December 1, 2017
Time: 4 PM CT
Location: Hilton Coliseum, Ames, Iowa
Video Streaming: Cyclones.TV
Audio Streaming: 100.9 FM (NOTE: Badger broadcast)
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

A day after a heartbreaking five set loss in the Big East Championship game to Creighton, Ryan Theis and the squad packed into the Union Sports Annex and found out via the selection committee that they will be traveling to Ames and Iowa State to take on the #11 ranked but unseeded Wisconsin Badgers. WHAAAAAAAAT. What are the odds that the Golden Eagles play their instate rival, you ask? Well I am a communications major, so that math is waaaaaay above my head. All I can tell you is that the NCAA volleyball committee sure doesn’t care about regular season rematches in the first round like the men’s basketball committee says that they do.

When the Golden Eagles traveled up to Madison back on September 14th to take on Bucky and Co., they became the first team to take a set from the then-#5 ranked Badgers all season. Despite winning the first set, the Badgers came storming back to win the next three thanks to 17 kills from senior Kelli Bates and 39 assists from freshman Sydney Hilley.

The last time I wrote about the Badgers, I focused on 6-8 stud freshman middle blocker Dana Rettke. Well, after 21 more games, the Illinois native still seems to be the topic of conversation due to the fact she still leads the team in kills. Rettke is averaging 3.37 kills per set while Bates averages 2.59. Marquette held Rettke to only three kills in the first matchup this season, which opened the door for Kelli Bates to go off. Look for Jenna Rosenthal, Elizabeth Orf and Allie Barber to stay on top of these two throughout the match, and the Marquette blocking scheme is going to have to figure out a way to limit both of them if they want to win.

Setting for the Badgers is another stud freshman in Sydney Hilley. She has 1199 assists on the season, which averages out to 11.64 assists per set. Hilley has been sensational all season and finds a way to get her hands on everything.

We should probably address the fact that Wisconsin’s winning percentage on the season is worse than Marquette’s, yet the Badgers are one of the 15 best teams in the country in the eyes of the AVCA. Well, UW went 11-9 in Big Ten play, which accounts for each of their losses this season. How did they get into the tournament with that kind of league record? Well, eight of the teams in the Big Ten made the tournament this season, and six are ranked in the top 25. It’s a pretty strong conference in terms of volleyball.

Earlier in the season, I predicted the Badgers to sweep Marquette in three. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the Golden Eagles took a set from Wisconsin. Do I think the Golden Eagles have what it takes to take two more sets from the Badgers? I do not think so. As much as it hurts to say this, I do not think the Golden Eagles will beat Wisconsin. What I do think though is that this match will go beyond three sets and Marquette will not make this easy for the Badgers. I do not want this to be my last preview of this season, so #BeatBucky.

If Marquette does upset Wisconsin, they play the winner of #14 seed and host Iowa State vs Princeton on Saturday night! Hopefully another preview will be written! Fingers crossed....