Marquette volleyball has advanced to the NCAA tournament in seven straight seasons, including this very year. Each time, including Friday night, the Golden Eagles have not advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. This time around, it was Wisconsin bringing the campaign to a halt in the first round of the tournament in a 3-0 (27-25, 25-21, 25-11) sweep.
Marquette finishes the 2017 season with a record of 22-10.
It seems, in retrospect, that things went downhill for the Golden Eagles after the first set. While Marquette hit just .175 in the opening frame, it was a tightly contested experience. The biggest lead in either direction was just two points, with each team holding that margin at various points. The Badgers were the first team to hit 24, off a kill from Big Ten Freshman of the Year Dana Rettke. Marquette snagged the next two points, first a service error from Rettke, then an error by UW’s Madison Duello, to even the match out at 24 each. Marquette fended off another set point thanks to antoher error by Duello, but Wisconsin finally closed out the set at 27-25.
Marquette got into trouble early in the second set, falling behind 12-8. It wasn’t a big run by the Badgers that did it, they just slowly built up the four point margin. The Golden Eagles trimmed the lead to just two at 17-15 on a kill from junior Anna Haak, but Wisconsin took four of the next five points to push out to a 20-15 lead. From there, it was just a matter of outlasting Marquette, and UW got the 25-21 lead.
The wheels came off in the third as Wisconsin did pretty much whatever they wanted to do. The Badgers hit .583 as a team in what would become the final set of the season for Marquette as they jumped out to a 9-2 lead before extending it to 15-5 and never looking back.
Anna Haak led Marquette in kills in the match with 11. Big East Player of the Year Allie Barber was always going to be the focus of the Wisconsin defense, and the Badgers held her to just 10 kills and a hitting percentage of .158. You can see the difficulty of the Marquette offense to get fully engaged in the assists total of Lauren Speckman, who tallied just 27 helpers. She has been one of the most productive setters in the country this season, averaging well north of 11 per set, and just nine per frame is well off that pace.
We have to close with a big THANK YOU to Manon Geoffroy, Marquette’s lone senior on this roster. Geoffroy spent just two years in Milwaukee, but she played a major part in two NCAA tournament teams, playing as the primary defensive specialist behind liberos Lauren Houg last year and Martha Konovodoff this season. With a new libero, new setter, and new primary, secondary, and tertiary attackers this season, Marquette needed a stabilizing presence on defense from Geoffroy to return to the NCAA tournament for a seventh straight year, and that is absolutely what they got. While her time at Marquette was short following her transfer, her time and effort and hard work are greatly appreciated by Golden Eagles fans everywhere and we wish her the best in her post-collegiate life.