That’s right folks it’s actually happening. The Marquette Golden Eagles are hosting the first round of the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament for the first time in program history. The Golden Eagles come in ranked as the #14 seeded team in the tournament, their first ever national seed, and ranked #15 in the AVCA top 25 poll, which is the highest ranking they have ever been. This has been the best season in Marquette history and the Golden Eagles look to continue it against High Point.
2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND
#14 Marquette Golden Eagles (26-6) vs High Point Panthers (21-9)
Just under a week after a car crashed into the Al McGuire Center, athletics staff got the AL ready for the first round of the Tournament. Big, big props to the staff all across the university for putting the AL back together because this is a huge weekend for Marquette.
Coming out of the Big South Conference, High Point swept UNC Asheville and Radford in their conference tournament. The Big South Conference is not great, but neither is the Big East besides Creighton. Think of it this way: All of High Point’s conference games were in Quadrant 4 in terms of the NCAA selection system, while all of MU’s non-Creighton games were also in Q4. Their three wins over #103 Radford are roughly similar to MU’s three wins over #106 St. John’s.
Leading the offense for High Point is Molly Livingston, who is averaging 2.78 kills per set. Livingston has been firing on all cylinders this year, hitting a very impressive .374. High Point is stacked on offense as they have five women all averaging above two kills per set. Coach Theis is gonna have to figure out a solid blocking scheme to stop this High Point offense. I think the blockers are gonna be super excited to be playing in this game so I am gonna expect a lot of blocks from Jenna Rosenthal and Co.
Setting for the Panthers is Jenna Smith and Mackenzi Thornburg. Smith is averaging 5.96 assists per set while Thornburg is averaging 6.18 assists per set. Both setters have been pretty good this year and it helps to have five women averaging over two kills per set. This seems like another whoever gets to the two ball first situation.
LETS GET FREAKING LOUD MARQUETTE!!!!! The Golden Eagles are HOSTING the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Let’s get to the AL, let’s get loud and let’s kick High Point right out of the gym. I say the Golden Eagles win in four. This High Point team seems decent, but the Golden Eagles should be fine. The winner of this match will take on the winner of Cincinnati vs Illinois St. on Saturday in the second round. If you’ve got tickets to the Marquette game, then you’ve got tickets to UC/ISU as well, and that game starts at 4:30pm at the McGuire Center. If you’re not going to be able to make it down but are a massive volleyball geek, then you can stream the Bearcats and Redbirds right here.