After two days of action at the McGuire Center, YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles volleyball team is the 2019 Hyatt Regency Marquette Invitational champion!
Yes, it’s a very prestigious title. Don’t ask questions.
#8 Marquette won all three of their matches on Friday and Saturday. They beat Green Bay 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-18) on Friday night, then woke up and beat Saint Louis 3-0 (25-13, 25-23, 25-19) on Saturday morning. Things got wacky in the evening portion of Saturday, as it took four sets to down Northern Iowa. I swear to you that this is the accurate set scores for the UNI match: 20-25, 25-22, 28-26, 25-6.
To review: Marquette lost the first, got an attack error to stem a late UNI rally in the second, fought off set point three times in the third before winning it themselves, and then only allowed six total points in the fourth. I swear to you this actually happened. Marquette had scoring runs of 9-0, 4-0, 3-0, and 5-0, and that 9-0 run opened up the set. Only three of the nine were on errors by Northern Iowa!
Now, because I (perhaps foolishly) opted for soccer in the Valley on Friday night and other familial concerns occupied me on Saturday morning, I did not see the Green Bay or Saint Louis matches. Here’s what I can determine to be the highlights:
- MU popped off a 7-0 run in set 1, assisted by four straight attack errors, against Green Bay to rally and win.
- MU and Green Bay were tied at 22 in the second before KJ Lines drilled back-to-back kills to give the Golden Eagles space to win the second set.
- A 5-0 run in the third set against the Phoenix was the difference maker, capped by an ace by Sarah Rose.
- Marquette never let Saint Louis hit better than .171 in any of three sets.
- MU had three runs of 4-0 in the opening set against the Billikens.
- Saint Louis led 9-5 early in the second before a 4-0 run pushed MU up 13-12.
- Marquette had set point at 24-20 in the second before SLU fended it off three times and then lost the set on a service error.
- After Saint Louis led 8-4 early in the third, Marquette would allow the Billikens to score two points in a row just one more time — going from 15-12 Marquette to 15-13 Marquette — on their way to closing out the sweep.
As for the UNI match on Saturday night, I have to say it’s one of the uglier performances that I’ve seen from Marquette during their NCAA tournament runs this decade. This isn’t a knock on the Panthers or being dismissive of them in any way. That’s a quality program coming off their fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance, and they’re the pick to win the Missouri Valley Conference this season.
But Marquette looked out of sorts and discombobulated for three straight sets against the Panthers on Saturday night. MU opened up hitting a very uncharacteristic .136 in the first set, and thanks to the fancy new video board in the McGuire Center that has live hitting percentage updates, I know that the Golden Eagles were getting outhit for the match even while they were taking sets #2 and #3. They probably shouldn’t have won set #3, either. UNI pushed to set point at 24-22 on a kill by Karlie Taylor, one of 13 on the night by the senior from Eddyville, Iowa.
It was at that point that Marquette seemed to turn the entire match around. The Golden Eagles started sending the entire offense through Allie Barber, who had not been playing particularly great up til then. Back-to-back kills from the preseason Big East Player of the Year knotted the match at 24, and then two more from Barber pushed off from set point for UNI at 25-24 and gave the advantage to the Golden Eagles. Kate Busswitz evened UNI back out before Barber and Gwyn Jones closed it out for Marquette. The official box score is interesting, as the credit for the 28th point goes to Jones, but as you can see, it was called a double contact by UNI in the building. It was also the end of a tremendous rally back and forth as UNI attempted to fend off set point and prolong the match.
As it turns out, the Panthers were fending off their destruction, as Barber’s fire down the stretch to keep Marquette in the third turned out to light the rocket into the fourth. With the final two points of the third, MU would end up scoring 11 straight on UNI and 13 of the next 14 points as well. The fourth set was over when Northern Iowa burned both of their timeouts by the time Marquette went up 8-0 and then KJ Lines knocked down the next kill after that, too.
Barber was named MVP of the tournament, as she averaged 5.00 kills per set in two days. Setter Lauren Speckman and libero Martha Konovodoff were both named to the all-tournament team as well. That’s a pretty impressive accomplishment for Speckman, as she split time with Sarah Rose against Green Bay and UNI and played Rose’s backup role to Claire Mosher in the SLU contest.
For right now, the only match that Marquette put up highlights for is the Saint Louis match, so enjoy those, won’t you?
Up Next: With the program’s best start since 1997 in their back pocket at the end of non-conference play, it’s time to dive into Big East action! Marquette opens things up on Wednesday morning when Butler (3-9) comes to the McGuire Center. Why morning? Because it’s Kid’s Day, which I presume that local school kids will be in the building. MU will have their first three Big East contests at home, with Seton Hall (5-9) and St. John’s (8-5) coming to Milwaukee next weekend.