Marquette spent most of Friday afternoon eliminating doubt.
The #2 seeded Golden Eagles turned in a VINTAGE~! Marquette performance in the Big East tournament semifinals, downing #3 Connecticut 3-0 on set scores of 25-14, 25-18, and 25-13. MU crushed the Huskies in the hitting department, recording a .248 hitting percentage on the offensive end and holding UConn to just .034 on their side of things.
MU took control of the first set on a 5-0 run featuring a pair of kills from Ellie Koontz that left the Golden Eagles up 13-8. The Huskies hung around and managed to get it as close as three points repeatedly…. And then Marquette uncorked a 9-1 run to end the frame. Just bang bang bang bang over and over again. Just one attacking error by UConn in the stretch, and Jenna Reitsma wrapped it up with a kill.
The second set stayed close early, right up until Marquette pushed a 9-2 run across both a media timeout midway through the set and a timeout from UConn to try and stop the bleeding. Carson Murray had the last kill on the run to make it 19-12, and even though Connecticut scored the next three points and even fended off set point twice, it was pretty much academic the rest of the way.
If we call the end of the second “academic,” then what Marquette did to establish how the third set was going to go was absolutely surgical. 4-0, 9-1, 13-2, 15-3. Only four of those 15 points were off UConn attack errors. I guess we could say that Connecticut wandered back in Marquette’s general direction, cutting it to eight on a few occasions, but that’s the best that they could do. Marquette wrapped up the match on four straight points, including a solo block from Taylor Wolf, an ace from Katie Schoessow, and back-to-back miscues from the Huskies.
That’s it. No drama. Just Marquette volleyball the way we’re used to seeing it played. This is, of course, made all the more impressive by the fact that this is the Big East semifinals and by definition MU is playing one of the four best teams in the conference and 2) the fact that Marquette is something of a walking and jumping M*A*S*H unit right now. Kaitlyn Lines has (essentially) not played all season, Hannah Vanden Berg was clearly lost for the year three weeks ago, and Hope Werch, one of MU’s two unanimous choices for the all-Big East team, spent this match on the Marquette bench in a hip to ankle brace after an injury last weekend.
And none of that mattered in this one. Marquette dialed everything up and never looked like they were having a problem, not even in the “MU is having their usual bad set” kind of way that we’ve seen from the Golden Eagles over and over this season.
Six different Golden Eagles recorded at least five kills in the match and no one had more than the eight laid down by both Taylor Wolf and Jenna Reitsma. MU’s offensive diversity was the only thing slowing Wolf down from a triple-double as she had 15 assists and 11 digs. Claire Mosher beat Wolf out for the team lead in assists with 17, while Reitsma, Carly Skrabak, and Katie Schoessow all matched Wolf in digs.
With the win, Marquette advances to Saturday’s Big East championship match. We know it’ll be tomorrow at 1pm Central, and we know that FS2 will be broadcasting it. As I type this, there’s exactly 27 minutes and 54 seconds left to go before #1 seeded Creighton and #4 seeded DePaul get started to see who will take the other half of the title matchup.