The trek through the 2017 Big East schedule started off with a positive note for Marquette on Wednesday night when they beat Butler in the first conference play match for both squads. The Golden Eagles got the straight sets win by scores of 25-21, 25-21, and 25-20.
Marquette had to overcome an off night by lead attacker Allie Barber, who finished with just seven kills on 24 swings with a hitting percentage of just .083. Jenna Rosenthal was a machine, smacking down 12 kills and hitting .550, while Anna Haak celebrated her first full day as a 21 year old by draining a half-courter at Hinkle Fieldhouse and then recording a match high 13 kills. Lauren Speckman was unconscious with 40 assists in just three sets, while both Manon Geoffroy (10) and Martha Konovodoff (15) had double digit digs.
Both teams were on the struggle bus in the first set, as neither squad managed to hit even .150. Things were not looking super for Marquette midway through the frame when a block by Natalie Ravenell and Bri Lilly put Butler up 16-10. Marquette snagged the next five points, though, to jumpstart a 10-2 run to put the Golden Eagles up 20-18 on a kill by Rosenthal. MU had the mojo going from there to close out with five of the final seven points to go up 1-0.
Marquette had their best hitting performance of the night in the second set, finishing the frame with a mark of .419. It didn’t start well, though, as Butler opened up a 4-0 lead to start and led 11-7 as well. A kill from Hope Werch started turning the tide, as MU popped off the next four to pull even. Neither team scored more than two in a row for a while until three straight from Marquette evened the match at 18. After a kill from Lilly briefly put Butler back out in front, MU threw cold water on the Bulldogs in the form of a 5-0 run featuring two kills from Haak and a combo block from Haak and Rosenthal. That had MU up 23-19, and Haak closed it out with a kill.
Butler had the early advantage again in the third set, building up to a 12-7 lead on a block by Rachel Klitzing and Anna Logan. Marquette would not draw even until in the middle of a 5-0 run that left the Golden Eagles leading 19-16 on an ace by Geoffroy, one of five unreturned starters by MU on the evening. Speckman sent the offense through Haak to wrap up the win, with the junior transfer from Miami recording kills for four of Marquette’s final six points of the match.
Thanks to a team-up with Lauren Speckman in the third set, Jenna Rosenthal finished the night with three assisted blocks. That gives her 307 for her career and moves her into sixth place all-time, surpassing Chris Curtin’s 305 from 1996-1999. Next up is Meghan Devine with 314, and with two matches at the McGuire Center coming up this weekend, Rosenthal could be in fifth place by the time Monday morning rolls around.
Up Next: With Marquette and Xavier tied for first place in the league at 1-0 after Wednesday night, the entire league gets up and running over the weekend. MU will host St. John’s (8-7) and Seton Hall (6-7) on Friday and Saturday with first serves scheduled for 7pm and 6pm respectively.