Entering his fourth season as head coach, Ryan Theis returns six women from last year’s roster as he looks to bring the Golden Eagles back the NCAA Tournament for the seventh year in a row. Here is what to look for/expect from those six women.
Marquette returns one middle hitter this year, but Jenna Rosenthal proved last year that she is all Ryan Theis will need this season. The 6-6 middle hitter from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin enters her redshirt junior year as she looks to have another monster season after playing in all 121 sets last year. In those 121 sets, she averaged 2.3 kills and 1.22 blocks per set. Rosenthal has been a star since she stepped on campus; in her redshirt freshman season she recorded 2 kills and 1.19 blocks per set while being named to the First Team All-Big East and the AVCA All-East Coast Region Team. Look for Rosenthal to take a bigger role in the offense with the transfer of Taylor Louis and Meghan Niemann’s eligibility ending. She’s already been named to the Preseason All Big East Team and spent this summer with U. S. Women’s Collegiate National Team Europe Tour.
The Golden Eagles return two outsides in Allie Barber and Madeline Mosher. Barber is coming off a very solid freshman campaign while playing in 110 sets. The 6-5 outside from Cedarburg, Wisconsin registered 1.99 kills and .51 blocks last season during her Big East Co-Freshman of the year inaugural season. Barber will likely be the player to benefit the most from Taylor Louis transferring to Iowa, as Louis’ team leading total of attacks have to go to someone. Barber joined Rosenthal on the Preseason All Big East Team.
Madeline Mosher will likely play opposite of Barber this season. She played in 119 sets while averaging .92 kills and .51 blocks per set in a perfectly acceptable rookie campaign. Marquette will have a strong core in Rosenthal, Barber and Mosher to build out from to provide most of the offense in this upcoming season.
Marquette only has one player named as a defensive specialist: Manon Geoffroy. The 5-5 rising senior hails from France and played in 118 sets for the Golden Eagles in 2016, her first season on the team. Geoffroy averaged 2.05 digs per set and also had 22 serving aces. Geoffroy will be a leader in the back row this year as she is the oldest player on the roster and could be Theis’ choice to replace Lauren Houg at libero.
Ryan Theis will go with three setters on the roster, but Lauren Speckman will be first in line to get a crack at the starting spot. Speckman has some big shoes to fill as she replaces Sara Blaiser who averaged 10.01 assists per set last year. The 5-9 rising sophomore from San Jose, California appeared in 32 sets last season and averaged 1.84 assists per set in her freshman year, and she could thrive thanks to her familiarity at setting up Barber, Mosher, and Rosenthal for attacks. Speckman had a career high 15 assists in last years game against crosstown rival UW-Milwaukee.
Finally, we get to Abby Julian. The 5-7 redshirt sophomore from Lewis Center, Ohio is listed as a setter and defensive specialist so she could see time at both positions this year. Julian only appeared in five sets last year, but with Speckman’s limited experience and Marquette’s lack of experienced defensive specialists, the chance will be there for her to get on the floor one way or another.
Marquette opens the season with three games in Hawaii against three top 25 teams, including the season opener against the #20 ranked Rainbow Wahine. It might be a tall test for this team, but last year’s squad took down #7 USC in their opening game.