Okay, let’s just say the loud part loud: Marquette volleyball beat DePaul on Wednesday afternoon three sets to two to keep themselves alone in first place in the Big East. The Golden Eagles are now 17-3 overall and 8-1 in the conference at the halfway point of the league schedule.
That’s what’s going to matter at the end of the day.
HOWEVER, it is entirely possible that Marquette took the absolute worst possible path to a win in this match.
Marquette trailed 5-0 in the first set before falling behind 9-1 and 14-4 before making it look relatively competitive at 25-21 by the end.
After that disaster of a first set that looked like Marquette forgot to wake up on time for this noon start at the McGuire Center without MU’s signature taraflex flooring down, the Golden Eagles found a trap door in the bottom of the hole that they were in and made things worse. After a back-and-forth start and a kill from Hope Werch that put MU up 5-4, DePaul then scored the next SEVEN points of the match with SIX of them going in the scorebook as errors by the Golden Eagles. One service error, two DePaul blocks, and three straight up misfires by MU attackers, one each for Werch, Ellie Koontz, and Claire Nuessmeier. Donna Brown capped the run with a kill for the Blue Demons.... AND YET SOMEHOW MARQUETTE LED 21-20 AND 22-21 IN THIS SET before losing five of the final seven points to fall 25-23.
0-2. I’m sorry, 0-2 after winning each of the last 10 meetings with DePaul — including one earlier this season in Chicago — by way of a 3-0 sweep.
This was horrendous.
DePaul wasn’t even playing well, as the Blue Demons hit .125 and .156 in the first two sets. 21 hitting errors by the Golden Eagles were just handing the operation over to the visitors.
Set Three was weird. Marquette’s defense went bye-bye, allowing the Blue Demons to hit .324 and MU only managed to hit .278 in the frame. MU went up 19-12 in the middle, then gave up a 5-2 burst to let DePaul back in a little bit before Savannah Rennie — hey, I mentioned her up in the sub-headline — closed this one out.
Marquette continued to cling to life, ever so slightly, in the fourth set. Eventually, they pulled away from DePaul, going up 16-10 thanks to an attacking error by Bailey Nelson and three straight kills by MU a little later on made it 22-15. The Golden Eagles were able to glide that ship in for a landing and force a decisive fifth set.
I hate the fifth set rules. I always have, I always will. You played four sets to 25, now it’s first to 15. Not only is it not a determination of who won this match based on the rules from the first four sets, but now you’re artificially stepping on everyone’s per-set averages.
We hit the halfway point with things tied at seven each after two straight errors by DePaul pulled Marquette even. DePaul went up 9-7. That advantage started to coalesce around a win. Kill by Allison Dennemann, 13-11. Ball handling error by Savannah Rennie, 14-11. DePaul’s at match point and MU is down three. Marquette has to — HAS TO — score the next three points to keep the match going. It’s first to 15, win by two. If DePaul scores a point before MU gets to 14, it’s over.
Block by Taylor Wolf.
Attack error by Donna Brown.
Kill by Savannah Rennie.
They did it. I don’t know how but they did it.
Kill by Rennie.
Kill by Rennie.
These last three kills, they were all almost exactly identical, Rennie, right in the middle of the net, hammering the ball down, trying to break the wood floor of the McGuire Center arena. Bang, bang, bang, Marquette wins.
Rennie finished the day as the only Golden Eagle who could claim to have a good day. She had 19 kills and hit .366 while adding three blocks and seven digs. Hope Werch actually led the team in kills with 20, but she hit .256 because of nine hitting errors while leading the team in attacks with 43. Taylor Wolf ended with a triple-double on 11 kills, 36 assists, and 15 digs, but she hit .235, well off her season pace of .335. Marquette’s other attacking options couldn’t break .200 on the day including awful outings from Ellie Koontz and Hannah Vanden Berg, both of whom went well into the negatives thanks to a combined 11 attacking errors.
Okay, I’m being unfair to Carly Skrabak, who had 26 digs, the most of anybody in the match, and thus managed to out-wit the 15 point fifth set to average over five digs a set on the day.
Just a big bad bowl of YIKES all the way around until the very end, made even worse by the fact that every match Marquette plays in the Big East is one to keep themselves on track for a regular season conference title now that Creighton has dropped a second loss on the season.
Highlights, courtesy of FloSports and GoMarquette.com! It’s not a coincidence that this is just the final few points of the fifth set.
Up Next: The Golden Eagles will be out east this weekend for a Saturday afternoon clash with Connecticut. That’s MU’s only game of the weekend and their last outing before Creighton comes to town for the return bout in Milwaukee. The Huskies are 14-6 overall and 6-2 in Big East play, which has them just a game back of the Golden Eagles in the loss column at the moment. Kind of a big one for MU, and this will be UConn’s first match since beating Creighton for the first win over a ranked opponent in program history.