Marquette volleyball had a glimmer of a view of a statement victory on Thursday night, but they couldn’t bring it into focus. After winning the first set, 25-19, against the #5 ranked Wisconsin Badgers, MU lost the next three sets, 25-13, 25-21, and 26-24 as UW got the 3-1 victory at the Field House in Madison. Marquette falls to .500 on the season at 5-5 with the loss while the Badgers remain undefeated at 8-0.
MU did something that no one else has done so far this season: win a set against Wisconsin. The Badgers had won 21 straight sets to start the season as they swept their first seven opponents, including #11 North Carolina in the second match of 2017. However, Marquette went out and bopped them right in the nose off the bat, hitting .324 and getting the first set victory.
Unfortunately, that was the high water mark for the Golden Eagles on this night. They hit under .100 in the next two sets as the Badgers asserted a 2-1 lead in relatively easy fashion. With their backs against the wall, Marquette needed to win the fourth to force a decisive fifth set against the Badgers, and they came verrrry close to pulling it off. After trailing 19-17 late in the frame, Marquette both made some plays and got some breaks to bring things to a 24-all tie. I mean, who could have predicted that the #5 team in the country would commit a rotation error while holding a 23-22 lead, thus allowing MU to tie the game at 23-all??
Sadly, Wisconsin got the next two points on kills from Kelli Bates and Lauryn Gillis, and that was that for the evening. Head coach Ryan Theis probably won’t want to say it, but it was a quality performance from a very young Golden Eagles team in a hostile environment in front of a packed Field House crowd of over 6,000 fans. They pushed a team with national title hopes and dreams harder than anyone else has so far this season, and that’s something to be proud of, at least for a little while.
Allie Barber was a monster for Marquette, recording a match high 21 kills and hitting .340. Anna Haak was MU’s only other double digit scorer, knocking down 11 kills. Perhaps the most telling sign of where MU fell short comes in the blocks column on the scoresheet. It’s not that Wisconsin recorded more blocks than Marquette, it’s that redshirt junior Jenna Rosenthal didn’t get a single block in the game. Elizabeth Orf had eight assisted stops and one solo stuff, and Barber chipped in six assisted stops of her own, but Rosenthal, who ranks fourth in the Big East in blocks per set, was unable to jam one back to the Badgers’ side for a score.
Up Next: It’s a very quick turnaround for Marquette, as they’ll be back in action less than 24 hours after the conclusion of the Wisconsin match. Southern Miss (9-4) will be the opposition, but since it’s part of the Badger Classic, MU won’t have to travel for this Golden Eagle vs Golden Eagle battle.