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Marquette Volleyball Stuns #20 Hawaii In 2017 Season Opener

It took five sets & the Rainbow Wahine never stopped fighting, but the Golden Eagles got the 3-2 win at the end.

Marquette women’s volleyball
Allie Barber came off the bench to smash a game high 22 kills against Hawaii.

Behind a 22 kill outing by sophomore Allie Barber, Marquette fended off constant rallies from Hawaii and persevered through a fifth and final set to snag a 3-2 win over the #20 ranked Rainbow Wahine. Marquette is 1-0 to start the 2017 season with two more ranked foes awaiting them on Saturday night and Sunday night.

The match was just one long protracted instance of Hawaii realizing “hey, we’re ranked #20 in the country, why are we trailing in this set?” Over and over and over again, they bounced back to wipe out Marquette leads. In the first set, Marquette had taken a 22-17 lead, which is usually pretty solid since it’s first to 25. Hawaii scored the next six points to take a 23-22 lead, and nine of the next 11 to swipe set point away from the Golden Eagles and get a 26-24 victory.

The second set ended in a 25-21 Marquette win, but it shouldn’t have been that close. The Golden Eagles were up 20-14 before Hawaii smashed out a 7-0 run to briefly take a 21-20 lead on a block by Kendra Koelsch and Skyler Williams. MU bounced back from that to take the final five points of the set and even things at one at the intermission.

The third set did not feature a dramatic rally by Hawaii, not like the first two. However, Williams capped off a 4-1 push from the Rainbow Wahine that turned a 15-10 set into a 16-14 score. Marquette answered with a 4-1 burst of their own, featuring a kill and a service ace from setter Lauren Speckman. Knowing that Hawaii could rapidly turn into Zombie Hawaii again, Marquette made a big push and closed out the third set with a 4-1 run and captured the third set, 25-18 off a Williams attack error.

With Marquette leading 2-1, Hawaii exploded out of the gate in the fourth set, jumping out to an 11-5 lead early and thus making up for their lack of a rally in the third. They kept the heat on the Golden Eagles, never letting the lead dip back lower than four points and evened the match at two sets each with a 25-18 win.

I’m not going to derail this recap with my usual tirade against the absurdity of how the fifth set is scored, but things were looking really great for Marquette in the decisive frame when Abby Julian fired off one of MU’s 10 aces on the night to stake the Golden Eagles to a 6-0 lead in a 15 point set. That should normally be a death sentence for an opponent, but this is ZOMBIE HAWAII, and they scored six of the next eight points to jump back in. A Hawaii ace from Norene Iosia knotted the whole show at 12 apiece and hoooooooboy were things not looking great for Ryan Theis’ team. Then, BOOM, kill from Jenna Rosenthal. BOOM, kill from Barber. BOOM, Barber and Rosenthal team up to reject an attack from McKenna Granato and that was that, 15-12 Marquette, match point!

Here’s the video of the final point.

The constant rallying from Hawaii masks the fact that this was not a particularly stylish game to watch. Hawaii never hit better than .241 in any set, and that came in the third, which they lost, and ended up hitting .130 on the night. Marquette was actually worse overall, recording a .128 hitting percentage. The Golden Eagles had two - TWO! - sets where they hit .000, and one of them was the second set that they won!

Barber’s 22 kills were a match high, as Hawaii was led by 14 strikes from Emily Maglio. Marquette also got double digit kills from Rosenthal (10) and freshman Hope Werch, who had 12 in her collegiate debut. Lauren Speckman recorded 50 assists to average a nice round 10 per set in her first match as Marquette’s primary setter, and freshman Martha Konovodoff had a match high 18 digs while playing as libero in her first ever college match.

Jenna Rosenthal’s march on Meghan Niemann’s blocks records began in earnest on Friday night, as the redshirt junior from Fond Du Lac had nine assisted blocks, including the game winner with Barber. That gives her 267 assisted stuffs for her career, and moves her into 10th place all time in program history. Rosenthal still has a long ways to go, as Niemann wrapped up her career last season with 412 assisted blocks, but Rosenthal is only a junior and has a lot of time to rack up a mere 145 assisted blocks and 153 total blocks.

Up Next: No rest for the Golden Eagles, as they’ll be back in action again on Saturday. The competition actually gets a little harder, as they’ll be tangling with preseason #13 UCLA. The Bruins kicked off 2017 on Friday with a relatively easy 3-0 (25-16, 25-12, 25-22) win over #22 San Diego who, by the way, will be MU’s Sunday opponent in the Rainbow Wahine Invitational.