After two defeats at the hands of Creighton earlier this season, it was clear that Marquette was going to need to play their best match of the season in order to top the Bluejays on Saturday and win the Big East tournament. Officially, the two teams tied for the Big East title at 16-2, but the Bluejays had lost to UConn and St. John’s while MU had shown that they couldn’t get over the Creighton-shaped bump on their path.
That didn’t change on Saturday.
By way of set scores of 25-20, 25-22, and 25-20, #1 seeded Creighton swept #2 seeded Marquette to secure the Big East tournament title and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Bluejays move to 30-3 on the season, while Marquette drops to 26-5 with nary a loss to an unranked opponent all year.
If you’re looking at the set scores, then you might be thinking “ah, well, Marquette was pretty close here, huh?” Yeah. They were. They were closer than it looks. Late in the first, the Golden Eagles snapped off four straight points, capped by a block from Jenna Reitsma and Anastasija Svetnik to pull within two, 20-18. The Golden Eagles had fallen behind by six, but suddenly they were right back in it and nipping at Creighton’s heels.
And then they had just two more points the rest of the set as the Bluejays went up 1-0.
Set #2! Marquette built up a lead early, going up 11-5 on an ace by Svetnik, and later back-to-back kills from Reitsma made it 16-9! Doing pretty well, huh? Yeah. So. Creighton went on a 14-3 run. 23-19 Bluejays. Marquette bounced back thanks to a pair of kills by Savannah Rennie to make it look like the Golden Eagles were on the verge of tying up the match at one each, but Creighton got a kill from Jaela Zimmerman and a service ace from Abby Bottomley to wrap it up at 25-23.
Down 2-0, Marquette was in need of some magic. It started to look like they might find it as a miscue from Naomi Hickman led to a kill for Rennie and Marquette took a 10-5 lead. And yet, somehow, Creighton found themselves up 13-11. Two errors by Marquette, two blocks by Creighton, and both a CU service ace and a Marquette service error is the “somehow.” Still wasn’t over, though. Marquette shook that off and took advantage of a pair of Creighton attack errors — one of which that required a challenge from head coach Ryan Theis to prove — and the Golden Eagles were up 17-15.
Marquette would score just three more points on the afternoon.
Three straight from Creighton, service error. Three straight from Creighton. 21-18 and clearly skittering away. Kills by Svetnik and Rennie. 21-20. Four straight for the Bluejays on a block and three kills, one each from Zimmerman, Keeley Davis, and Big East Freshman of the Year Norah Sis.
There’s your ball game.
No one from either team had a clearly good day, as both squads failed to hit even .150 through three sets. Sis would be your hitting MVP with the best day with 13 kills on a hitting percentage of .278, although setter Kendra Wait is probably the actual Player Of The Game with four kills (yes, the setter) on just nine tries plus a match high 24 assists, a whopping seven assisted blocks, and 12 digs, too. Marquette was led by 12 kills from Savannah Rennie, but she hit just .147 to get there. Taylor Wolf and Claire Mosher partnered up for 18 and 12 assists respectively, while Carly Skrabak had a match high 17 digs.
Highlights? Coming at you courtesy of Fox Sports and GoMarquette.com:
Up Next: Mystery! Well, not for long. With a record of 26-0 against unranked teams but 0-5 against ranked foes, Marquette was, somehow, still #16 in the ol’ NCAA RPI as of November 21st. This weekend, they beat #82 and lost to #12 in that same ratings set, so it’s safe to say that the Golden Eagles are still as safe as safe can be when it comes to an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
We’ll get confirmation on that on Sunday night. The selection show will be on ESPNU, as it always is, and it is scheduled to start at 7:30pm Central. Tune in to see where the Golden Eagles will be headed this coming weekend and follow along on Twitter to watch me grouse about the Miami/Alabama game at Disney World going way too long.