And that’s it for the year.
Marquette volleyball lost in the NCAA tournament on Thursday, falling in four sets (25-20, 25-21, 24-26, 25-23) to Dayton down in West Lafayette, Indiana. That wraps up the season for the Golden Eagles with their first loss to an unranked opponent all year.
It looked, pretty much from the jump, that Dayton was the better team on the day. The Flyers went up 7-3 out of the gate, with two of Marquette’s three points coming by way of Dayton flubbing their own service. The Golden Eagles would end up falling behind 15-8 and 18-10 along the way before making a big push in the back half of the set to pull within three, 23-20, before a handling error by MU and a kill from Jamie Peterson wrapped it up for UD.
The second set was much better for Marquette. The biggest lead before either team got to 20 points was just two, and that was Dayton leading 3-1. A kill from Savannah Rennie and a block from Carsen Murray and Taylor Wolf knotted the whole thing up at 19... but it slipped out of MU’s grip from there. From there on out, MU only scored on Dayton service errors — the Flyers would hand Marquette 18 points this way across the match — and yet again, a kill from Peterson closed out the set. This time, it put Marquette in a 2-0 hole and in need of a reverse sweep to keep their season alive.
It seemed like Marquette was well aware of that as the third set started. 6-2 off the bat, although Dayton helped with two more service errors. The Golden Eagles rolled up a lead of 9-3, and then 11-4, but as you can guess, Dayton wasn’t going to just roll over and hand Marquette a set. The Flyers chipped and chipped, and eventually a service ace by Anna Wuensch knotted the frame at 15 each. It was a battle from there. Marquette did go up two, 18-16 and then 19-17 and even 20-18, but Dayton kept coming. The Golden Eagles ended up having to rally in a set they led by seven, and a service error — yep, again — and an attack error by the Flyers evened the match at 23. MU did nothing to fend off match point, as Wuensch delivered yet another UD service error, but the Golden Eagles pounced with a kill by Wolf and inducing an error from Lexie Almodovar to win 26-24 and provoke a fourth set in this match.
What turned out to be the final set of the season may have been decided when Dayton ran off five points to turn 7-5 Marquette into 10-7 Flyers. Four kills from UD, and suddenly the Golden Eagles were the team chasing the match. Dayton went up four, 14-10, on an ace from Maura Collins, but MU popped off three straight of their own to make it tight again. Dayton rebuilt the lead, going up 19-15, and that was ultimately the end of it. Yes, Marquette fended off three straight match points, giving them four fends in the contest, but they couldn’t tie it up at 24 and Almodovar closed it out with a kill.
Is this match different with Hope Werch and Hannah Vanden Berg? Who can say? Is it different if Marquette doesn’t burn a timeout after just two points in the fourth because Savannah Rennie rolled her ankle a bit? Did Rennie’s ankle end up limiting her the rest of the way? She had two kills right after that and another later on, so probably not... but she also didn’t score after the set was 14-13 Dayton. Question marks abound for Marquette in this match, to be sure, but you have to fight with the army you have at the time.
Rennie finished with a team high 14 kills, with Jenna Reitsma (11) and Taylor Wolf (10) not far behind her. Wolf ended up with yet another triple-double, adding 20 assists to tie Claire Mosher for the team lead there and 15 digs to tie Carly Skrabak — NOT KATIE SCHOESSOW, MR. ANNOUNCER MAN — for the MU high total in that column as well. Carsen Murray had a nice match in the middle, getting four kills on an error free six swings while adding five assisted blocks and two digs as well.
Before we head into the offseason, we have to make sure we issue a very big Anonymous Eagle THANK YOU to the Marquette seniors: Ellie Koontz, Kaitlyn Lines, Claire Mosher, Savannah Rennie, Katie Schoessow, Hope Werch, and Taylor Wolf. Some of these women have been around for five MU seasons, some less than that. It doesn’t matter, they were all part of a squad that won a Big East title for the first time in eight years. They were all on the spring pandemic roster when they had to play without fans in the stands and with lord only knows what kind of protocols for practice which turned into the first missed NCAA tournament for the Golden Eagles in a decade. Some of them got to be a part of Marquette’s first ever Sweet 16 team and the first ever NCAA tournament matches at the McGuire Center. Three of them — Rennie, Werch, and Wolf — aren’t even supposed to be eligible any more, but they elected to take advantage of the NCAA giving them an extra season and fought and fought and fought to give us the season that we saw this fall.
All seven of them did the work, day in and day out, to keep Marquette volleyball where it has been for the past decade-plus: The Best Team On Campus. Whether they thought about it or not, I look at the team that way, and every single second of their effort to keep it that way has been greatly appreciated by Marquette fans everywhere. Thank you to all of you, and best wishes on whatever comes next for you.