The Marquette volleyball team heads into conference play with a record of 9-3. They have beat everyone they were supposed to and even upset then-#10 USC. Their three losses have come to now-#1 BYU, now-#6 Wisconsin and now-#19 Baylor, with the first two coming at home and the third on the road. They come into Big East play ranked #21 in the AVCA top 25 poll and have to take on a long road trip to open up play. The team had to do this last year as they went across country to Providence and then had to go to Omaha right after.
Big East Match #1: @ Providence Friars (6-5, 0-0)
The Friars have opened up the season with a 6-5 record and have not looked very impressive. They have lost matches to not very good teams and have won matches against not very good teams. The team has not played a match since September 11th due to their tournament in North Carolina getting cancelled due to Hurricane Florence.
Allison Impellizeri leads the team in kills per set with 3.36. She recorded 51 kills in the Friars’ last tournament in Kansas City. The senior actually attended my high school’s rival school, so I’ve seen her play and she can really hit the ball. On the other side of Impellizeri is Addison Root who is averaging a calm 2.51 kills per set. I’d like to see MU head coach Ryan Theis focus the scheme around these two.
Setting for the Friars is Allison Barber. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat, hold the front door. Isn’t Allie Barber Marquette’s reigning, defending, conquering Big East Player of the Year outside hitter? Yea she is, but Providence’s Allie Barber sets and she sets pretty well, averaging 10 assists per set. She likes to distribute the ball throughout the court having three hitters averaging over 2 kills per set.
If I was a betting man (and only the Wisconsin State Assembly is stopping me from being one at this point), I would say the Golden Eagles take this one in three. They are gonna come into Providence and take what is theirs before getting on a plane to take on the juggernaut that is Creighton.
Big East Match #2: @ #10 Creighton Bluejays (8-4, 0-0)
Ahhhhhh, the Creighton Freakin Bluejays. Now I am not a fan of Creighton due to my rivalry with @mjdemarinis, that’s right I just called him out in the blog. BOOM, ROASTED. Now over the past year or so, Mr. DeMarinis and I have been going at it ever since I called Jaali Winters a defensive liability when she was when Marquette absolutely embarrassed Creighton at the Al McGuire Center last year. [Editor’s Note: Winters was bad in that match. She is, however, usually very good.] Now, while Creighton stands at 8-4 this is a reaaaaaal good 8-4. Their best win comes against then ranked #5 Kentucky who is now ranked #20. Three of the four losses have come to top #10 teams while the other is to Northern Iowa who is receiving votes and briefly flickered into the top 25 thanks to their win over Creighton to some degree.
Creighton is stacked with hitters. Taryn Kloth is averaging 4.24 kills per set while Jaali Winters is averaging 3.76. Both hitters can totally smash the ball which is scary for opposing defenses. Coach Theis is going to have to come up with something huge if he wants his team stop this lethal duo.
Setting for the Bluejays is junior Madelyn Cole who is averaging 10.78 assists per set. Cole is a transfer from Marshall who started all 30 matches last season. Cole is one of the luckiest setters in the country as she gets to distribute the ball to Kloth and Winters.
This is gonna be long road trip for the Golden Eagles travel wise. Creighton is a very good team so I do think they are gonna take this match in 4 sets. While Marquette is a fantastic team, Creighton is just too good for now. Think of it this way: Marquette dropping this contest just sets up a big rematch in Milwaukee later this season.