On Tuesday morning, Marquette volleyball put out a press release. I didn’t see it until I saw the Facebook post with it until late in the evening, right before the MU men’s basketball game started. We’re going to go through this press release in its entirety, because by the end of it, whooooo it is A LOT.
Marquette University volleyball head coach Ryan Theis announces the addition of All-American senior Taylor Wolf as a transfer from in-state foe Green Bay. Wolf, a right-side hitter and setter, will be available to play for the Golden Eagles for the spring 2021 season.
Okay. Given that there was no fall season because of the pandemic, it’s kind of wild that a senior is transferring for what is ostensibly her final semester of college just to be able to play volleyball one last time. Maybe there’s some kind of issue with Green Bay Phoenix not having a spring schedule for the postponed fall season, but we are miles away from knowing anything about that because Marquette doesn’t even have a schedule for this spring.
Hey, what kind of player is Taylor Wolf, anyway? Wait, did that opening just say “All-American?”
Wolf had a successful season for three years with the Phoenix and earned back-to-back Horizon League Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2018 and 2019. She was also selected first team all-league in all three seasons at Green Bay. Wolf led the Horizon League with 4.45 kills per set, which was 12th overall in the NCAA in 2019 and earned 5.04 points per set. The Waconia, Minnesota native earned AVCA Honorable Mention accolades in 2019, while being named to the AVCA All-Region North team. As a freshman Wolf was named Horizon League Freshman of the Year.
”Taylor can perform all six skills at a high level,” Theis said. ”She makes players around her better. Her versatility gives us several line up options for this spring and next Fall. She is not only a great player but also a terrific student. We are thrilled to welcome her to our family.”
HOLY CRAP, Marquette just brought in the two-time reigning Horizon League Player of the Year and a 2019 AVCA Honorable Mention All-American? Well, that certainly answers a lot of the “hey, what do they do without All-American and MU all-time kills leader Allie Barber?” question.
Hey, there’s more to this press release.
In other roster news for Marquette, seniors Martha Konovodoff and Sandy Mohr are graduating in December and will miss their senior season of competition [....]
Oh, that stinks. I mean, not the “graduating at semester” part, good job by them to finish up a semester year. The part that stinks is that Konovodoff and Mohr have had their senior season stolen from them by the COVID-19 pandemic. That sucks. Konovodoff finishes her three year career at Marquette ranked #4 all time in digs with 1,554. She is 13 away from #3, and had she played a normal length fourth season, Konovodoff very easily would have moved past Lauren Houg in second place with 1,757. Mohr was a part-time player at most in her three seasons at Marquette. After playing in 20 sets in 13 matches in 2017, Mohr got into eight matches for 15 total sets in 2019. As you can guess with that little amount of playing time, she did not have a major impact on either squad. It’s possible that Mohr could have gotten more of a run in a “normal” 2020 fall season, but it’s hard to say.
Oh, the press release is still going. Let’s pick it up in the middle of the previous sentence.
while due to professional development in the PT school, Gabbi Martinez will also forego her final season at Marquette.
I’m guessing that “professional development” is code for an internship or a clinical rotation or something in that neighborhood that Martinez 1) was able to acquire and 2) could not pass up either because of how great of an opportunity it was or because she actually needs the practical experience to wrap up her degree. As was the case for Konovodoff and Mohr, it really stinks that Martinez was forced to choose between volleyball and her education because of the pandemic. I would presume that the plan was to play in the fall of 2020 and take this professional opportunity in the spring, and that plan has gone totally out the window through no fault of her own. Martinez had her best season at Marquette as a junior in 2019, playing in 28 of MU’s 34 contests. She was never relied on to nail down a major role in the defensive structure, but she played her part and had to be ready every night when her number was called.
Oh, wait, there’s more to this press release. Okay, last sentence. Have fun experiencing it as I did.
This fall Sarah Rose was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, which will prevent her from participating in her senior year.
DID YOU JUST SAY “SARCOMA” IN THAT SENTENCE?
SARCOMA, AS IN, ACCORDING TO THE MAYO CLINIC, “THE GENERAL TERM FOR A BROAD GROUP OF CANCERS THAT BEGIN IN THE BONES AND IN THE SOFT TISSUES?”
DID YOU SERIOUSLY JUST DROP A “ONE HALF OF OUR 2019 SETTER PAIRING HAS CANCER, SO NO MORE VOLLEYBALL FOR HER” AND THEN END THE PRESS RELEASE? DID YOU START THIS PARAGRAPH BY SAYING “IN OTHER NEWS?”
HOW IN THE NAME OF THE OUTLAW JESSE JAMES DID THIS PRESS RELEASE GET APPROVED FOR DISTRIBUTION?
Okay. So that actually sucks, not in the “well, they can’t finish their collegiate volleyball careers as planned because of how their education is going” kind of way, but in the “getting immediate treatment for cancer in the middle of a pandemic sounds like the absolute worst thing you’d want to do” kind of way. I’m not trying to accuse anyone of anything here, but this definitely sounds like something that was diagnosed fairly recently. On November 10, 2020, the Marquette Wire published a profile piece on Rose, documenting her role on the team that goes beyond being one of the two setters that head coach Ryan Theis uses on the court. Here’s the final sentence of the piece, which is a quote from Theis:
“She has meant a lot to us throughout the years. COVID kind of robbed her senior season, but hopefully we can get a little bit of it back.”
Yeah. So. I’m going to presume that Theis and Rose and the volleyball staff did not know about Rose’s diagnosis by the time that Molly Gretzlock and the Wire editorial staff put that article to bed. I presume that because if you find that out with enough lead time, it probably makes a lot of sense to call up Gretzlock and say “hey, uh, I can’t let you run those quotes about getting Rose’s senior season back in the spring. In fact, I have a different story for you to write.”
In her freshman year, Rose was a part-time player for Marquette, appearing in 22 matches. After that, Theis and the coaching staff switched to a system that requires two setters to rotate in and out of the match, pairing Rose with starter Lauren Speckman. That led Rose to play a major role on the team, even if that’s not obvious from averaging just short of five assists per set in both 2018 and 2019. Speckman was out on the floor with All-American Allie Barber, who would rotate off the floor with Speckman. That meant it was Rose’s job to keep Marquette’s offense humming without the best attacker on the team out on the court. As you can tell from Marquette’s win-loss record over the past two seasons, that worked out pretty well.
Rose’s departure from the roster leaves a notable gap, since Marquette now loses her and Speckman from the 2019 roster that we last saw in action. That leaves Claire Mosher as the presumptive Setter 1 on the roster after appearing in 15 matches in 2019. It also leaves Mosher as the only pure setter on the roster, and that changes the potential impact of adding Taylor Wolf to the team. Wolf is listed in the press release as a right side hitter and setter, so we will have to wait until the theoretical spring campaign to see what kind of a system that Theis goes with based on the roster available to him.
We wish nothing but the best to Konovodoff, Martinez, and Mohr as they pursue whatever comes next for them in life, and say a gigantic THANK YOU to them as well. They were part of continuing the best run in Marquette volleyball history and helped keep the team as the best and most successful program in the entire athletic department during their tenure in blue and gold.
For Rose, we’re putting good thoughts and prayers out into the universe. Her treatment is probably going to be a whole big bag of not fun, and it might have already started to be that. We hope to hear that she’ll be either continuing her classes or back in classes soon and able to chase whatever bright future awaits her before too long.