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2019 Big East Volleyball Championship Preview: #2 Marquette vs #4 St. John’s

This is not the matchup we were expecting, but it’s the matchup that we’ll see.

Big East Basketball Tournament - Second Round Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

2019 Big East Volleyball Championship

#2 Marquette Golden Eagles (27-4, 16-2 Big East) vs #4 St. John’s Red Storm (21-11, 12-6 Big East)

Date: Saturday, November 30, 2019
Time: 3:30pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, WI
Television: FS2
Streaming: Fox Sports Go, available in app form
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

All-Time Series: Marquette leads 17-5
Season Series: Marquette won, 2-0

There’s a Conference Championships banner hanging up in the McGuire Center for Marquette volleyball. It’s kind of a lonely banner, as there’s just a 2013 marker on it for the time that the Golden Eagles won the regular season and tournament titles in the Big East. With Marquette hosting the Big East tournament this season, there was always a chance that the tides could turn and home court advantage — even if the Big East was in charge of the event — could let the Golden Eagles inscribe another title up on that banner.

And then Friday rolled around, and Marquette took care of business in the first of the two semifinal matches, sweeping Villanova 3-0. The #2 seed beating the #3 seed, just what you thought you’d see. And then, in the other half of the doubleheader, #4 St. John’s swept #1 Creighton, 3-0, with set scores of 25-17, 25-23, and 26-24. It wasn’t easy, to say the least, especially with that final set going to extra points. The Johnnies took advantage of 25 Creighton hitting errors in the match along with nine service errors and held out and around long enough to be standing tall at the end, even after one final replay challenge by the Jays.

So, instead of the Bluejays team that beat Marquette twice this season on the other side of the net as we all kind of presumed and expected that we’d see, it will be the Red Storm team that Marquette beat twice already in the regular season. That’s quite the change in events and, without trying to be mean to the Johnnies, quite the change in possibility for that trophy at the end of the rainbow.

Efrosini Alexakou is the season leader in kills per set for the Red Storm. She knocks them down to the tune of 4.21 per set, and does it while hitting .245. However, it was Rachele Rastelli, the sophomore from Italy, that led St. John’s against Creighton with 13 kills on 27 swings. Rastelli is second on the team in kills in terms of average at 3.18/set, so it’s quite clear that she’s a dangerous option for the Johnnies.

Erica Di Maulo handles the setting duties for the most part, averaging 10.13 assists per set. That makes her one of just three women in the league to average at least 10 per frame this season. The defensive side of things is anchored by Amanda Sanabia, who is averaging 3.95 digs per set this season. Ariadni Kathariou and Maria Palacios create quite the blocking tandem for the Johnnies, as both are just below a block per set this season.

It’s quite clear after Friday night that the Johnnies aren’t going to be rattled by playing a top 15 ranked team like Marquette. If the #10 Bluejays didn’t shake them, #12 MU isn’t going to do it either. On top of that, the Red Storm will be playing with their season on the line, while Marquette is merely playing for NCAA tournament seeding.