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#16 Marquette Volleyball Preview: BYU Nike Invitational

The Golden Eagles open up the season ranked 16th in the nation and open up their season out in Provo

San Diego v Brigham Young Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Guess who’s back? Back again, Broadway’s back, back again.

What’s good everybody? We are BACK for my third year at Marquette and I could not be more excited. I gotta house off campus, cooking for yourself stinks (underclassmen out there: cherish and take advantage of that meal plan) and I got new clothes because wearing exclusively baggy sweatpants and sweatshirts two sizes too big on you is not “presentable.” Shouts to my brother Brian for taking me shopping and helping me look fresh.

Anyways, let’s talk some volleyball. Your Marquette volleyball team comes into 2019 ranked 16th in the country, favored to win the Big East, and returning five of their seven starters. They bring back superstar outside hitter Allie Barber, who averaged 4.56 kills per set, which is still ridiculous. Lauren Speckman returns at setter, although last year head coach Ryan Theis ran with two setters: Speckman and Sarah Rose who was also spectacular last year. Libero Martha Konovodoff returns and honestly, I do not talk about her enough. She gets to seemingly every single ball and she is creeping up on the all time digs leader chart. Hope Werch and Elizabeth Orf return up front and I expect them to fill in for Jenna Rosenthal’s departed offense. Now the team opens up at a solid tournament down in Provo, Utah.

Let’s get previewing.

Match #1: vs Utah Valley Wolverines (0-0)

Date: Friday, August 30, 2019
Time: 11 AM Central
Location: Smith Fieldhouse, Provo, UT
Streaming: WCC Network
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter: @MarquetteVB

The Golden Eagles open up against Utah Valley University who finished 20-14 in the 2018 season. They return a good amount of starters from last year and seem to be hungry for this season.

Sophomore Kazna Tarawhiti returns for the Wolverines as she looks to stay hot from last season. As a freshman, she averaged four kills per set, which led the team. She was the WAC Freshman of the Year while starting every match for the Wolverines. Look for her to come out strong and keep her stellar college career going.

Setting for the Wolverines is Madi Wardle. The senior averaged almost 6 assists per game last season and honestly she does really impress me. She seems to exclusively go to Tarawhiti and that’s it. If Tarawhiti is off this whole team seems off.

I expect this to be an easy sweep for the Golden Eagles, if they can shut down Tarawhiti up front, they will be more than fine.

Match #2: vs Boise State Broncos (0-0)

Date: Friday, August 30, 2019
Time: 6:30 PM Central
Location: Smith Fieldhouse, Provo, UT
Stream: WCC Network
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter: @MarquetteVB

After what should be an easy match against Utah State in the morning, the Golden Eagles take on the Broncos of Boise State in the evening. The Broncos finished 18-11 last year, while going 10-8 in the Mountain West Conference.

The Broncos lost a bulk of their starting lineup from last year, so I don’t see this season being much different from last year. They lost their two best hitters from last year and their top returning hitter is now senior Janell Walley. She averaged 2.18 kills per set last season, which isn’t terrible considering there was two hitters significantly better than her on the team last year. She is now the new number one on the outside and I expect her to put up some big numbers this year.

The Broncos run a two setter look with senior Cassedi Simon and Danielle Boss (sick last name). Both averaged above seven assists per game last year, so it seems like whoever gets to the two ball first will have to set it to Walley.

Again, this should be an easy sweep for Marquette if the Golden Eagles are playing like the #16 team in the country.

Match #3: at #9 BYU Cougars (0-0)

Date: Saturday, August 31, 2019
Time: 8 PM
Location: Smith Fieldhouse, Provo, UT
Stream: BYUTV, although you might have to use a cable login or a smart TV app to get it.
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter: @MarquetteVB

Well, this BYU team is good, very good. They finished 31-2 last season, losing to Stanford in the Final Four. So yeah, this team is no slouch.

The Cougars did lose All American Roni Jones-Perry to graduation. After watching her when they came to Milwaukee last year and beat Marquette 3-1, I am very happy she is gone. Leading the offense this year is most likely senior McKenna Miller. She averaged 3.25 kills per set and I expect that number to skyrocket this year.

To be honest I have no idea who will set for BYU this year. They lost Lyndie Haddock-Eppich to graduation and she was an absolute force to be reckoned with averaging over 11 assists per set. Knowing BYU I am sure they recruited some sick setter with another long last name because apparently you need to have a long last name to be a star there.

Anyway, I can see Marquette putting up a fight in this one, but ultimately losing in four sets yet again When the two met last year, Marquette stole the first set and then lost the next three in progressively dominating fashion by the Cougars. I can definitely see something like that happening again.