Marquette already announced the home dates for the two soccer teams and the volleyball team over a month ago, but on Thursday, the athletic department provided us with the road end of the volleyball schedule.
Much like the road side of the women’s soccer schedule that we already have, the volleyball slate tells us that head coach Ryan Theis is expecting a lot from his team this year. He’s right to do that, by the way. Marquette had just one senior last year, defensive specialist Manon Geoffroy. That means the entire offense is back in 2018 plus libero Martha Konovodoff, so big things should be expected following last year’s 22-10 campaign.
Let’s dive into the schedule, shall we? First the full rundown, then some reactions.
2018 Marquette Volleyball Schedule
|Fri., Aug. 24||vs Texas State (at Baylor)||4:00 PM|
|Sat., Aug. 25||vs LSU (at Baylor)||1:00 PM|
|Sat., Aug. 25||at Baylor||7:00 PM|
|Fri., Aug. 31||vs Kansas State (at Saint Louis)||3:30 PM|
|Sat., Sept. 1||vs Western Kentucky (at Saint Louis)||10:00 AM|
|Sat., Sept. 1||at Saint Louis||7:00 PM|
|Fri., Sept. 7||USC||7:00 PM|
|Sat., Sept. 8||BYU||6:00 PM|
|Sun., Sept. 9||Syracuse||noon|
|Fri., Sept. 14||Wisconsin||7:00 PM|
|Sat., Sept. 15||Tulsa||1:00 PM|
|Sat., Sept. 15||Illinois State||7:00 PM|
|Fri., Sept. 21||at Providence||5:00 PM|
|Sun., Sept. 23||at Creighton||1:00 PM|
|Fri., Sept. 28||Georgetown||7:00 PM|
|Sat., Sept. 29||Villanova||6:00 PM|
|Wed., Oct. 3||Xavier||11:30 AM|
|Sat., Oct. 6||at DePaul||12:00 PM|
|Wed., Oct. 10||Butler||6:00 PM|
|Fri., Oct. 12||at St. John's||6:00 PM|
|Sat., Oct. 13||at Seton Hall||6:00 PM|
|Fri., Oct. 19||DePaul||7:00 PM|
|Fri., Oct. 26||Creighton||7:00 PM|
|Sat., Oct. 27||Providence||6:00 PM|
|Fri., Nov. 2||at Villanova||6:00 PM|
|Sat., Nov. 3||at Georgetown||4:00 PM|
|Fri., Nov. 9||at Butler||5:00 PM|
|Sun., Nov. 11||at Xavier||11:30 PM|
|Fri., Nov. 16||Seton Hall||7:00 PM|
|Sat., Nov. 17||St. John's||6:00 PM|
Our focus here is on what’s in the reveal of the road games. Specifically, we’re concerned with the non-conference section of the schedule, as the Big East plays a full round robin in volleyball, and well, Marquette went 15-3 in Big East play last year. You’ll have to forgive me if I don’t really worry about the construction of the league schedule all that much.
- The opening tournament of the season is going to be a strong test for Marquette. LSU and Baylor both made the NCAA tournament last season, with the Bears finishing the year ranked #21 in the country. LSU lost in the first round, while Baylor earned a #12 national seed, but was upset in straight sets by Colorado on their home floor in the second round. Texas State opens the campaign for MU, and they’re no pushover. The Bobcats went 25-10 overall and 14-2 in Sun Belt action, but lost in the conference tournament title game.
- Marquette should be able to come out of weekend #2 of the season with at least two wins. Saint Louis (13-15) and Kansas State (10-19) both finished last year under .500, although the Wildcats suffered from a 3-13 record in the always difficulty Big 12. The third opponent is Western Kentucky, and the Hilltoppers are coming off of their fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance, the longest streak in program history. They advanced to the second round last year and pushed #4 national seed Kentucky to five sets before finally falling.
- With Baylor, LSU, and Western Kentucky on the board alongside USC, BYU, and Wisconsin, that gives Marquette six non-conference opponents who were in the NCAA tournament last season. Three of them — USC, BYU, and Wisconsin — may be ranked in the top 10 in the country when the preseason AVCA poll comes out. Baylor will most likely be ranked, and Western Kentucky just barely missed being ranked in last year’s final poll, so they might be in the preseason poll, too. Marquette will get more than their fair share of shots at quality wins, and that’s without even discussing Creighton, which will also presumably earn a preseason ranking.
- It’s an incredibly minor thing, but I’m glad to see that Marquette plays at Creighton and at Providence in the first weekend of the Big East season. The Big East uses travel partners for volleyball, just as they do for women’s basketball, and the proximity of other teams to each other means that the two furthest apart schools in the league are travel partners. This means MU will wrap up their match in Rhode Island against the Friars at roughly 7pm Central time on Friday, but will be back on the court in Omaha for first serve against the Bluejays at 1pm Central on Sunday. That’s a travel and recovery nightmare, especially considering that the Jays will be the favorite to win the league yet again this season, but at least 1) it’s the first weekend of the league slate, so general season fatigue won’t impact MU all that much and 2) Marquette gains an hour of rest by heading west to Nebraska.
- Marquette’s four straight road games to kick off the month of November will likely be an important stretch for the Golden Eagles. They’ll face Butler and Villanova, two of the squads that they lost to in league play last year, so those two matches will presumably carry a little weight in terms of deciding the league title. In the meantime, Creighton will be on the road in the first weekend of November, but back at home on the second weekend. The Bluejays close the regular season with a pair of home dates against Providence, as this solves the logistics for those two teams so they don’t have to travel to only play one game. Given the usual disparity between Creighton and Providence, if Marquette wants to win the regular season title in 2018, they’re going to want to be in position to do it before that final weekend of the regular season.