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Marquette Volleyball Preview: The Marquette Invitational

The Golden Eagles finally come home to play Loyola-Chicago and Kentucky at the McGuire Center.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-Kentucky vs Arkansas Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The time has finally come. The Marquette Golden Eagles are coming home to Milwaukee to take on Loyola-Chicago and Kentucky at the Al McGuire Center. The Golden Eagles went 2-1 on their road trip last weekend as they beat Miami (OH) and IUPUI, but blew a 2-0 lead over Wichita St (the Falcons blew a 25 point lead in the Super Bowl). Fans, players, and coaches alike would love to get the Wichita State match back as that win would have likely put the Golden Eagles in the top 25. Look no further than the Shockers currently sitting in the #23 spot in the newest AVCA rankings for proof. As painful as that loss is, it’s mostly fine, it’s still kinda early in the season, and as long as Hawaii recovers from their early season funk, Marquette still has that win in their back pocket. As I sit here blasting Homecoming by Kanye and Coming Home by Diddy, I can’t imagine how excited the women are to finally use their own locker room and play on their home court.

Match #7: vs Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (1-5)

Date: Friday, September 8, 2017
Time: 7 pm CT
Location: Al McGuire Center
Streaming: GoMarquette.com
Live Stats: GameTracker
Special Promotions: FIRST 200 STUDENTS IN ATTENDANCE GET FREE PIZZA.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

Believe it or not, Marquette is only 10-14 all time against Loyola. The last meeting between the two teams was in 2013, with the Golden Eagles scoring the straight sets sweep. MU might not have the long term advantage, but they have won the last three meetings.

Loyola is off to a real rough start this season as they stand at 1-5 right now. Dropping the first five matches of the season, the Ramblers added a win against Samford in their latest contest. Loyola has not had much going for them so far, the one thing they do have is Gabi Maciagowski. The 6-1 outside hitter from Toronto has been pretty good for the Ramblers so far, averaging 3.22 kills per set and recording a season high 15 kills in a four set loss to Cal. Look for Maciagowski to be double blocked by Marquette’s tandem of Jenna Rosenthal and Allie Barber.

The Ramblers have been running a dual setter lineup with Maddy Moser and Delilah Wolf. Loyola is led by Wolf with 96 assists, but Moser is right behind her with 92. Wolf is listed as the primary setter on the roster while Moser is listed as a defensive specialist/libero. Both Wolf (20 assists) and Moser (22 assists) had their best match of the year against Samford. Combined, they’re averaging a little less than nine assists per set, but Loyola’s getting to over 10.5/set through a little bit of passing from everyone.

I think the Golden Eagles are gonna come out firing on their home debut. The Al is hopefully gonna be rocking with free pizza fueled students and fans. I think Marquette makes quick work of the Ramblers 3-0 and will have to quickly turn their heads to Kentucky a much harder opponent on Sunday.

Match #8: vs #13 Kentucky Wildcats (5-2)

Date: Sunday, September 10, 2017
Time: 1 pm CT
Location: Al McGuire Center
Streaming: GoMarquette.com
Live Stats: GameTracker
Special Promotions: Kids 12 & under are FREE. There’s also a pre-match family festival with stuff like face painting and balloon animals. PLUS: Summer camp attendees get in for FREE.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

MU is 2-1 all time against Kentucky. The most recent meeting was last season, when the Golden Eagles went into Lexington and came away with a 3-1 win. Before that, you have to go back to 1999 and 2000 to find the previous encounters.

The Wildcats are good. Just how good though? Kentucky stands at 5-2 with losses to Creighton (ugh) and Kansas. Both Creighton (#9) and Kansas (#7) are ranked ahead of the Wildcats, so Kentucky has beat everyone they should have. The Wildcats are led by Leah Edmond, a 6-2 outside from Lexington. Edmond ranks #30 in the country with 4.38 kills/set, which includes a 22 kill outing against then #23 Utah and 21 kills each against USC and Northern Iowa. Hopefully Jenna Rosenthal and Elizabeth Orf have planned a block party on Saturday because Marquette will need all the blocks they can get to beat Kentucky.

Setting all those balls to Edmond is star freshman Madison Lilley. The 5-11 star from Overland Park, Kansas has been on an absolute tear ever since she stepped on campus. She has recorded 289 assists this season and had a crazy 65 assists in a five set thriller against Northern Iowa. Lilley’s 11.12 per set average is in the top 35 in the country, but she’s going to have to be on her toes to outduel Marquette’s Lauren Speckman. MU’s setter currently ranks #17 in the nation in assists at 11.67 per frame.

The Golden Eagles are in for a tough one on Sunday. They will need outstanding performances from everyone in order to beat Kentucky, and they’ve already gotten one from whomever scheduled the Marquette Invitational. See, the Wildcats are going to play Loyola-Chicago on Saturday while the Golden Eagles take the day off to rest. Still, I say Kentucky takes this one in four sets. I do believe Marquette is good enough to steal a game from the Wildcats, but it will be a total team effort to take them down.