A re-jiggered on the fly schedule thanks to a weather related travel mishap didn’t put so much as a hitch in Marquette volleyball’s giddyup over the weekend, as they went out to the New York City area and came back with two straight sets wins. First it was 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-22) over Seton Hall on Saturday, then 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-22) over St. John’s on Sunday.
With the wins, Marquette is now 17-4 on the season and 8-1 in Big East action after finishing their first pass through the round robin schedule. Oh, and they’re still ranked #19 in the country, at least until a new poll comes out on Monday afternoon. #18 Washington lost at #2 Stanford on Saturday, #17 Purdue lost at home to #9 Penn State on Wednesday, and #14 Oregon lost to unranked Utah on Sunday. I’m not saying for sure that the Golden Eagles will set a new program record for best AVCA top 25 poll ranking ever, but it definitely seems like there’s possibility to move up.
Marquette let their defense do the talking in both matches over the weekend, in a bit of a turnaround from how things have gone this season. Usually it’s MU busting out the heavy artillery to overpower teams, as they were hitting .280 as a squad coming into the weekend. However, the Golden Eagles had a bit of a problem with the errors, averaging just over five per set. Across the six sets, MU hit just .256 out east this weekend. While that’s an off weekend for Marquette on the attack, their defending was more than up to the task of picking up the slack. St. John’s and Seton Hall combined to hit just .188, well down from Marquette’s season average allowed of .233 coming in to the road trip. That’s some high quality work by head coach Ryan Theis and his players to battle through a rough patch in terms of how they usually perform to still come away with two sweeps. Martha Konovodoff was her usual stellar self at libero, racking up 15 digs in each match to raise her season average to 4.94 per set, but it was the efforts of Hope Werch and Anna Haak that stand out. Both women posted double digit digs in both matches, with Werch getting 15 & 10 and Haak getting underneath 10 and 12 digs in the two matches.
I could dig into the play-by-play recaps of things, but if we’re being honest, all six sets were relatively tightly contested, so it’s not like there’s a lot of “wow, MU went on this huge run to win” to talk about. The muted hitting by both sides all weekend long kind of takes away from that, so I’m not going to bore you to death with all of that nonsense.
We will talk about Jenna Rosenthal’s 1,000th career kill, though! She finished Saturday’s match against Seton Hall with 999, so when she put the hammer down to make it 10-7 in favor of MU in the first set against St. John’s, Rosenthal added that career milestone to an already historic tenure as a Golden Eagle. She put up four assisted blocks against Seton Hall and five more against St. John’s to extend her career records in both assisted and total blocks. I don’t know if Rosenthal has enough time left in her career to move into the top 10 all time. Teammate Allie Barber currently holds the #10 spot with 1,077 career kills, and once Barber passes Meghan Devine about four or five matches from now, Devine’s 1,133 kills is going to be the 10th best mark in program history.
On a related note, Barber is now just 656 kills away from Theresa Coughlin’s career record of 1,733. She’s obviously not going to get there this year as Taylor Louis’ single season record is 611 and Barber is already on 312 for the 2018 campaign. Still, though, she’s presumably going to cut another 200 kills away from the margin between her and Coughlin between now and the end of this season. 1,277 would be good enough for fourth best all-time, and definitely leave Coughlin within striking distance for Barber’s senior year.
Up Next: It’s a bit of an oddity of a weekend ahead for Marquette. They begin their second trip around the league schedule when they host DePaul (5-15, 3-6 Big East) on Friday night. However, since the Blue Demons are MU’s travel partner, that’s the only match the Big East has for them this weekend. Theis decided to add a wrinkle to the festivities, and convinced Northern Iowa (14-6, 8-0 Missouri Valley) to host MU on Sunday afternoon. It’ll be an interesting test for the Golden Eagles, particularly if the Panthers edge their way one spot up in the AVCA poll and enter the rankings at #25. It will also hopefully provide a bit of a pick-me-up for the team heading into the following weekend when #10 Creighton is slated to come to Milwaukee.