Look, Marquette just needs to play better than they did on Wednesday.
Sure, Marquette won, beating DePaul 3-2, and thus staying alone in first place in the Big East. That’s the good news. But it took a reverse sweep after falling down 2-0 in relatively ugly fashion AND Marquette needed to fend off match point THREE TIMES in order to finally take the fifth set 16-14.
It was not good under any circumstances, and the Golden Eagles were lucky to get the win.
To put it in perspective: The rally helped Marquette avoid their first loss to an unranked team this season.
Marquette is going to need to play better than that on Saturday.
On Saturday, Marquette is facing one of the two teams that currently sit in a tie for second place in the Big East standings at 6-2. They’re facing a team that’s coming off a victory against the other team that is sitting at 6-2. They’re facing a team that’s probably not very happy about their second loss of Big East play, and their first one was on the road against MU earlier this year.
They’re going to be some combination of looking for revenge from last time against MU, angry about a different loss that’s currently keeping them out of a tie for first place, and fired up about pulling off a massive victory, arguably the biggest in program history.
Whatever Wednesday was for Marquette, hopefully it’s out of their system. They’re going to need to play much better volleyball than “barely pulled it together at the last second to beat a team that’s now 12-9” in order to keep their lead in the conference standings.
Oh, and one final note on why it’s imperative for Marquette to play better: This is MU’s last match before Creighton comes to Milwaukee next weekend. At this point, that match may determine who wins the Big East regular season title, and man, it sure would be nice if the Golden Eagles weren’t standing around trying to figure out what went wrong for a second straight match with the Bluejays up next.
Big East Match #10: at Connecticut Huskies (14-6, 6-2 Big East)
Marquette is 7-3 all time against Connecticut. MU has won the last four meetings in the series, all by the score of 3-1, which includes a contest in Milwaukee earlier this season. This is MU’s first trip to Storrs since October 1, 2011.
Connecticut has played five matches since they met with Marquette in Milwaukee a few weeks back. They followed that loss to the Golden Eagles up with a win at DePaul the very next day and then a win at Villanova the next week. And then they lost at Georgetown. To now 5-14 Georgetown. To a Hoyas team that has not beaten any other teams in the Big East in eight tries.
So, of course, what did UConn do exactly one week later? Why, they beat then-#19 Creighton for the first win over a ranked team in program history. NO BIG DEAL.
When these two teams met earlier this season, it was Kennadie Jake-Turner leading the way for UConn in a losing effort. she had 10 kills on 18 swings for a .444 average, and she had three assisted blocks, too. Three more Huskies all had eight kills, which does kind of line up with UConn’s stats for the season. They have five women all averaging between 2.33 and 3.77 kills per set, so it makes all the sense in the world that they have a certain amount of a “you’re having the best luck today, you lead the way” kind of thing going on. Officially, though, Caylee Parker is the primary attacker on the team, as she has nearly 130 more swings than anyone else.
McKayla Wuensch was UConn’s primary setter in Milwaukee earlier this season, racking up 30 assists in four sets. That’s actually below her average of 8.95 per set this season, so we’ll see if MU can keep the Huskies off balance again. Karly Berkland was tops in digs in the first meeting, leading a trio of women in double digits. She is UConn’s leader in that department at 4.34 per set, so expect to see a lot of her again. Jake-Turner averages 1.19 blocks per set, and MU stayed away from her enough last time out to limit her to just three stuffs in four sets. The Huskies usually average 2.52 blocks for points per set, but Marquette cut that number down to just over one per set in Milwaukee. Artfully dodging the block is always the key to a successful offensive performance, so hopefully the Golden Eagles can do that again.