Okay, y’know what? Watching Marquette women’s volleyball’s trip out east this past weekend was not, as a whole, outrageously fun to watch. What it was, however, was Marquette having a wee bit of trouble with Seton Hall on Friday night, much like they did in Milwaukee, before prevailing 3-1 (25-21, 23-25, 25-18, 25-22) and then flailing around against St. John’s on Saturday, less than 24 hours later, before finally wrapping up a five set extra points victory (25-23, 29-25, 26-28, 25-22, 18-16) over the Johnnies.
Not incredibly fun, but it was two wins. Marquette is now 21-4 overall and 12-2 in Big East action. They remain tied for first place with Creighton and a game up in the standings on third place Connecticut. MU also maintains their spot in the RPI top 15 following all action on Sunday, as the Golden Eagles slot in at #14 there, one spot behind Creighton.
Set #1 against Seton Hall was your standard issue volleyball set where Marquette got a little bit of a lead early and then just held the Pirates off the rest of the way. MU hit .333 in the opener against just .185 for Seton Hall, and that was that. The Golden Eagles opened up 6-2 in the second set before the wheels went flying off. The Pirates notched 12 of the next 15 points to open up a 14-9 lead, including a 5-0 run after Marquette broke a different run to tie the thing at nine each. Believe it or not, a late furious rally by the Golden Eagles brought them firing back allll the way up to 23-22 on a new MU record service ace from Hope Werch, and a kill from Hannah Vanden Berg fended off set point a second later. But Perri Lucas got a kill to fall and things were all tied up at one each.
Both teams hit it very well in the second frame, but Seton Hall had the advantage, .378 to .300. Marquette had absolutely enough of that and plastered the Pirates .412 to .074 in Set #3 and had you asked someone early on there, they wouldn’t have guessed that to be the case. It was tied at seven each and Marquette’s lead was just 10-9 at one point. But MU put points in a row together assisted by attacking errors from SHU, and before long, it was 21-14. Seton Hall kept pace, but there wasn’t much they could do before back-to-back kills from Taylor Wolf and Vanden Berg closed it out.
A 4-0 run with two kills from Wolf and another record setting ace from Werch put Marquette up 12-9 about midway through the fourth set, but Seton Hall wasn’t ready to pack it in. A swing by Wolf got jammed by Amanda Rachwal and Emilee Turner to pull Seton Hall within one at 18-17 and make things interesting. MU responded with three straight including, yes, again, an ace from Werch, to boost the lead back to four, and that was finally enough to hold off Seton Hall. The Pirates cut it to one again at 22-21, but the Golden Eagles won the set and the match by taking three of the final four points.
Wolf and Werch tied for the team lead in kills with 14, but Werch gets the team lead in total points thanks to her four aces on the night. Vanden Berg jumped into the double digit parade with 12 kills. Werch also had 13 digs to tie with Carly Skrabak to lead the Golden Eagles in that department.
Wanna watch some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and FloSports?
The story of Set #1 against St. John’s is this: Marquette needed an 8-0 run to take an 18-15 lead, a 3-0 run to take a 22-19 lead, and a 3-1 final burst to win 25-23. This wasn’t Marquette fending off a feisty St. John’s team, this was Marquette figuring out a way to beat the Johnnies when they were behind the eight ball. The Red Storm did not take kindly to that, and a 6-1 run right after Marquette scored three straight to tie Set #2 at 15 was not fun. That was all the space St. John’s needed to make the plays they needed to make to get the 25-19 win.
It looked like Marquette was setting up to take a 2-1 lead when a block by Ellie Koontz and Savannah Rennie capped a 7-2 MU run to take the lead from 15-14 to 22-16 Golden Eagles. Then St. John’s scored five of the next six... but a kill from Rennie moved MU to 24-21. Easy path to the win here, right? Yeah, no. Four straight for St. John’s. Suddenly they were holding on set point. The two teams traded points back and forth there before a kill from Giorgia Walther and an error by Taylor Wolf handed the match to the home team.
2-1 St. John’s. It’s not what you want.
Marquette needed a Set 4 win, and a 13-7 start definitely made it apparent that they knew it and they wanted it. But St. John’s knew they had Marquette in their sights and they played like it. Slowly but surely, the Johnnies pushed back, and a kill by team leader Rachele Rastelli knotted it up at 22. Just a big ol’ bag of yikes there. Hannah Vanden Berg came up big at the end though, sandwiching a partner block with Rennie with two kills on either side for the last three points of the set and force things along to the fifth.
Marquette did not get the start they wanted to in the decisive frame as an error by Rennie left St. John’s with a 7-4 lead at the midway point. Marquette showed signs of life, but the Johnnies did what they needed to. 10-7, 11-8, 13-10. MU’s window for victory was closing.... right up until the Golden Eagles booted it back open. A kill from Wolf was followed by blocks from Rennie and HVB, and a straight up miscue by SJU’s Eleonora Tosi moved the Golden Eagles to match point, 14-13. The two sides started trading points as St. John’s fended off match point three times before Hope Werch got back-to-back kills to hammer down the 18-16 lead in extra points.
Werch was the team leader in kills, putting down 17 here while hitting .256. She was joined in double-digit town by Wolf and Vanden Berg who both had 13 and another 10 from Rennie. Vanden Berg had a particularly great game, hitting .407 and committing just two errors on her 27 swings. The Golden Eagles averaged nearly three blocks a set with Rennie coming up responsible for exactly half of MU’s blocks with seven assisted stuffs on the day.
Wanna watch some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and FloSports? For the record, the PBP audio was that lousy during the actual broadcast, too.
Up Next: Marquette has a chance to clinch a Big East tournament berth coming up this weekend. As things stand right now, the Golden Eagles can still end up in a tie Butler and DePaul, who are currently tied for fourth place. Part of the reason why they haven’t clinched a top four spot yet is that MU won’t play their second match against the Bulldogs of the season until Sunday afternoon at 1pm in Indianapolis. It’s not going to have to come down to that one though, as MU just needs one more win to avoid the potential tie, and they can get that on Saturday afternoon in Cincinnati against Xavier. The Musketeers will be playing for something as well, as they are still in contention for that fourth and final Big East tournament berth at 6-8 so far in league play.