YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles wrapped up their final regularly scheduled business trip of 2018 with a pair of 3-0 sweeps against Butler (25-19, 25-15, 25-21) on Friday evening and then against Xavier (25-15, 25-17, 25-13) on Sunday afternoon. With the two wins, #18 Marquette is now 24-5 on the season overall and 14-2 in Big East play.
Creighton also won both of their matches over the weekend, moving them to a very respectable 16-0 in Big East action. That earns them at least a share of the Big East regular season title, but I’m not holding out hope that they will lose twice to Providence at home next weekend, so it pretty much means that they’ve won the title outright. Regardless of the results of those Bluejay/Friar matches, Creighton did lock in as the #1 seed in the Big East tournament. That means Marquette can’t finish any higher than second, and with St. John’s already at five losses, the Golden Eagles can’t finish any lower than second, either. In fact, we already know that Marquette will face the #3 seeded Red Storm in the Big East semifinals on November 23rd after hosting St. John’s to close out the regular season on November 17th. It’s amazing how fast these things pop into place sometimes.
As you can see from the set-by-set scores up in the top paragraph, there’s not a lot to talk about in terms of thrilling excitement in either of the weekend’s contests. Butler made the first set interesting when Bri Lilly trimmed what was once an eight point lead down to just two at 20-19, but the next three points were all earned on Butler attack errors, and a kill from Jenna Rosenthal wrapped things up. Set #2 saw Marquette jump out to an 8-2 lead in a run that included four kills from Allie Barber, and then build that lead to 12-4 (ace by Hope Werch) and then to 16-5. A few late points from the Bulldogs made the score respectable and then — surprise — Rosenthal wrapped it up. You can’t really say that the third set was competitive, not quite. The early part had Butler keeping it close, but an ace from Rosenthal made it 12-7, and that was mostly enough for Marquette to keep Butler at bay. An ace from Anna Haak made it 16-10, but Butler did nudge their way back in, using a kill from Brooke Gregory to eventually pull within two at 21-19. The two sides traded pairs of points in the final stages, with Werch and Barber going back to back with kills to give Marquette the win.
Barber had an outstanding match, connecting for 20 kills and hitting .394. With that kind of outing and just 44 kills as a team to pick up the win in three sets, no one else was particularly great on the night, merely solid and efficient. Haak was all over the court, putting up 22 digs to go with her seven kills and two aces. Lauren Speckman added 10 digs to her 22 assists for the team’s second double-double of the night.
A 7-1 run early in the first set against Xavier got the Golden Eagles off and running and an ace from Jenna Rosenthal pushed MU to a 13-7 lead. XU would put together a late 4-0 run to get within shouting distance at 21-15, but two kills from Rosenthal and an error by Xavier’s Norah Painter put Marquette in position to lock up the frame on a block by Rosenthal and freshman Ellie Koontz.
The second set was all Marquette from the get-go. A timeout by the Musketeers was the only thing breaking up an 8-0 run to start the stanza, and that eventually turned into a 12-1 run. At that point, it was really just a matter of avoiding a run in return, and even that didn’t quite matter. Xavier got a 6-1 section late to pull within five at 19-14, but it was really too little too late at that point. MU stemmed the tide and wrapped things up with back to back kills from Anna Haak and Elizabeth Orf.
The third set started out scary, as play had to be stopped to tend to Xavier’s McKena Estes. The senior from Indianapolis appeared to take a shin strike to the head from a teammate while going for a dig on the very first point of the set. Play was immediately halted when the referees realized that Estes was staying down and would be delayed by 20 minutes until Estes was properly cared for, stabilized, and eventually stretchered off the court. We here at Anonymous Eagle wish all of the best for Estes as she recovers from whatever her specific injury is.
Officially, the referees blew the point dead in the middle, so the whole thing was wiped off the board and restarted with Nadia Dieudonne taking Estes’ place in the lineup and delivering the first serve of the set. Even with a warm up after the long delay, it wasn’t quite the most solid start to the third for Marquette, and I’m sure watching someone receive medical attention on the court didn’t help either side be ready to finish out the match. MU eventually took over with an 11-1 run, turning a 6-5 Xavier lead into a 16-7 Marquette advantage. That was all that the Golden Eagles really needed, and some back-and-forth action down the stretch ended up with Anna Haak closing things out with a kill.
Allie Barber was the top scorer for either side, putting up 16 kills while hitting .429. Jenna Rosenthal added 10 kills, an ace, and three blocks, while Anna Haak continued her solid play from Friday, trading in a few digs for kills. The Swede had 14 kills while hitting .571 and added seven digs on the back end.
Up Next: Marquette returns home to the McGuire Center this coming weekend to close out the regular season with not much on the line other than polishing their NCAA tournament resume and honoring seniors Anna Haak, Abby Julian, and Jenna Rosenthal. It’ll be Seton Hall Pirates (9-20, 4-12 Big East) on Friday night, followed by St. John’s (22-9, 11-5 Big East) for Senior Night on Saturday.