Hello and welcome back to your 2021 Marquette volleyball season preview!
We’ve already spent a bit of time talking about the women that return from the spring season roster, which, by the way, is nearly everybody. There’s a lot of things to discuss in that article, so if you haven’t read it, you need to go do it now.
Here we’ll be talking about the five newcomers on head coach Ryan Theis’ fall roster. Officially, all five of them have four years of eligibility remaining, although thanks to the goofiness that goes along with the NCAA granting extra seasons of eligibility due to COVID, one of the five is a transfer with a bit of Division 1 experience already.
Enough jibber-jabber, let’s get right into it, shall we?
We’re starting with this category for two reasons. First, it’s one of the two positions that has two women in it here. Second, it’s the category that has Anastasija Svetnik, aka MU’s new transfer. In her lone season at Oregon State before transferring to MU, Svetnik appeared in every single set for the Beavers. She averaged 1.23 kills per set, which isn’t too bad for a middle, and she hit .305, which is great. The 6’3” native of Belarus did decently well in the blocking department, racking up five solo stuffs and 45 assisted blocks to average 0.65 per set. It’s clearly a benefit to Marquette to have another experienced middle on the roster, but I don’t know how much Svetnik is going to play immediately. Given that Savannah Rennie and Claire Nuessmeier are already familiar with all of Ryan Theis’ system plans, they have a huge leg up on Svetnik at being able to play at an NCAA tournament caliber level for the Golden Eagles. At worst, this is a learning season for Svetnik and perhaps she can jump right in next year and play a big role after Rennie’s eligibility is up.
That last part goes for Hattie Bray as well, I suppose, just without the extra 18 matches of experience in the spring. She comes in as a top 150 prospect... I think. It’s hard to discern exactly what “Ranked No. 149 on Prep Volleyball’s top players of 2021” in her official MU bio means, because that sounds like it might include players that weren’t seniors this past school year. In any case, she is a 6’2” native of Hancock, Wisconsin, where she attended Wautoma High School. Bray left Wautoma as the team’s all-time leader in kills (977 in four seasons) and blocks (234), which is pretty great. Does that immediately lead to notable playing time this fall? Maybe, maybe not.
Much like Svetnik and Bray, I don’t know if either of MU’s two new defensive specialists have a big chance at playing time this fall. Katie Schoessow is the incumbent libero, and Carly Skrabak was a dutiful secondary defender behind her in the spring. That 1-2 combo is how Ryan Theis generally runs things, and so I don’t know if the two freshmen can break past either returning woman.
With that said, both Jadyn Garrison and Samantha Naber have extensive and impressive prep credentials to their name. Garrison, a 5’8” native of Minnesota, was named as one of the top 25 underclassmen in the country in 2020 and picked up a spot on Under Armour’s All-American watch list as well. That all seems pretty good.... but the best Garrison can muster is a two-time all-conference honorable mention. That doesn’t seem to match up with “one of the best players in the country,” but this also might be weird anti-DS bias in the voting, too.
Naber is a bit more of a local prospect for the Golden Eagles after earning four letters at Burlington High School down in western Racine County and propelling herself to #113 on Prep Volleyball’s 2021 rankings. She was conference Libero of the Year three times for the Demons as well as county Libero of the Year three times and county Player of the Year in 2019. Burlington played in the state tournament final four in each of Naber’s four seasons on the back line, winning state titles in 2017 and 2018. Somehow, Naber was only First Team all-state in 2018 and 2019 even though she was clearly tearing it up for years.
Remember a minute ago when we pointed out that Hattie Bray had 977 kills in her prep career at middle blocker? Okay, so Jenna Reitsma obviously had a much better chance of getting kills because she’s a hitter, not a middle. And yet, somehow, the 5’11” Michigan native dropped in 873 kills in 2019 alone, setting a new Lowell High School team record in the process. I suppose that you can start to see why she was a Miss Volleyball candidate as a senior and a Max Preps All-American and an Under Armour Third Team All-American and came in at #67 in Prep Volleyball’s 2021 rankings. Now, Marquette has a number of outside hitters ready, willing, and able to take swings at the net this fall, so I don’t automatically see how Reitsma fits into the picture. With that said, if you’re a top 75 prospect, you should probably get at least a chance to show what you can do right out of the gate.