A classic Allie Barber performance was exactly what Marquette needed on Friday afternoon, and that’s what they got. The 6’5” senior smashed down 17 kills and hit .378 to propel Marquette to a 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-22) victory over Dayton in the first round of the 2019 NCAA tournament down in West Lafayette, Indiana. With the win, Marquette has now won an NCAA tournament game in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history, and advances to Saturday’s second round game against #16 Purdue.
The first set was a close one. Both teams were executing well and hit over. 350. However, the Golden Eagles were able to send kills to the floor at a .441 clip, and that gave them a slight edge. Neither side had more than a two point lead the entire set up until three straight for MU capped by a Barber kill (of course) gave the Golden Eagles a 20-17 lead. That was just enough of an advantage for MU to hold the Flyers off, even as Dayton fended off set point twice.
Things looked a little bad for Marquette off the top of the second set as Dayton took a 6-1 lead. However, MU notched the next five in a row on two Hope Werch kills and three UD hitting errors to tie things back up at six each. Slowly but surely, the Golden Eagles built a lead from there. 10-8, then 15-12, then 17-13. The lead didn’t last, of course, as the Atlantic 10 tournament champion showed what they were made of and trimmed the lead to just one at 18-17. It was still just one point when Olivia Dubay made it 20-19, and it looked like we were in store for a duel to 25........ and then it did not happen. MU got kills from four different women, starting with freshman Hannah Vanden Berg playing in her first ever NCAA tournament match, and ending with Elizabeth Orf who, thanks to a Dayton attack error in there, landed the kill to put Marquette up 2-0.
The third set started with Marquette holding the early advantage and Dayton wiping it away. The Flyers took a 9-7 lead on a kill by Amelia Moore, but that was answered with four straight from MU capped by an error by Jamie Peterson, UD’s lead attacker. Still, as you could expect, that two point lead didn’t matter all that much, and the Flyers still led at 19-17, and tied the match up at 20-all and 21-all. But coffee is for closers, and that means Allie Barber gets coffee. She put MU up 22-21 and two UD errors pushed the Golden Eagles to match point. After one final stave from Dayton, it was Barber again sending the Golden Eagles on to Saturday’s second round match.
While Barber was the star of the day, Werch wasn’t that far behind her. Barber had 11 kills through two matches, but Werch had 10 to drive the MU offense forward. She finished with “only” 11 on the day, and added an ace and nine digs to the cause. Vanden Berg showed why she was included on the Big East’s all-freshman team, chipping in 11 digs and 8 kills .
Up Next: As mentioned, it’s #16 Purdue in the second round. The Boilermakers swept Wright State with ease on Friday evening, only allowing the Raiders to total 43 points in their three sets. First serve is set for 6pm Central, and it will be streamed on BTN+, just like Friday’s match.