On Thursday, the Big East officially kicked off the 2021-22 athletic season by announcing the women’s volleyball preseason awards. We’re here for Marquette-related reasons, so we should just skip to the fun part, huh?
The Golden Eagles snagged three first place in the voting this year, which put them in second place heading into the 2021 fall season. MU picked up 93 total points in the polling, putting them just four points behind preseason favorite Creighton. The Bluejays picked up eight first place votes as MU head coach Ryan Theis and CU head coach Kirsten Berthal Booth obviously traded first place votes since coaches can’t vote for their own teams or players.
Unsurprisingly, St. John’s landed in third place in the polling with 83 points, and then that’s where things started tumbling down pretty quickly from there. Fourth place went to Xavier with 68 points, fifth is Villanova at 56, and Connecticut and DePaul knotted up at 48 each for sixth place. Providence (44), Butler (31), Seton Hall (27), and Georgetown (10, last place on every single ballot) round out the 11 team league.
St. John’s has the pick as the best player in the league heading into the season in outside hitter Efrosini Alexakou. It’s the second straight preseason honor for the native of Greece, with this one following along on the heels of her postseason version of this award. Preseason Player of the Year is the only individual honor in the Big East, so we turn our attention to the all-conference team and MU’s involvement therein.
The Golden Eagles have two representatives on the all-conference team. Both women were brand new transfers on the MU roster back in the spring, and they’ve both returned to MU for another season thanks to the COVID relief that the NCAA granted to all fall sports athletes. Setter/right side hitter Taylor Wolf is the first we’ll talk about here. Here’s how the official GoMarquette.com press release on the preseason awards explains why the league’s coaches liked her enough to make Wolf a unanimous choice for the all-Big East team:
Wolf, a three-time AVCA All-Region selection, paced the Marquette offense in the spring as both a right-side hitter and setter. The All-BIG EAST Team selection led the squad with 2.82 kills per set while hitting .254 and sat second on the team with 5.02 assists and 3.06 digs per set. She posted six triple-doubles and earned two BIG EAST weekly honors during the regular season. The Waconia, Minnesota native ranked ninth in the BIG EAST with 3.46 points per frame in addition to her role as a setter in MU’s 6-2 offensive system.
Savannah Rennie made an impact on the Golden Eagles right out of the gate in the spring as well. The 6’2” middle blocker from San Diego was named to the All-Big East team and the All-Big East Tournament team, and, well, I’ll just let the MU press release do the heavy lifting here……
Fellow graduate student Rennie, also a member of the All-BIG EAST Conference Team in the spring, made her impact felt in her first season in Milwaukee, hitting .325 with 2.12 kills and one block per set. Her .312 hitting percentage ranked sixth in the BIG EAST and she notched 16 service aces to tie with Wolf for eighth in the BIG EAST.
After a Blue & Gold scrimmage on August 21st, Marquette is set to officially open the season on Friday, August 27th, when they face Texas A&M in a non-conference event hosted by Hawaii. The Golden Eagles will tangle with the hosting Rainbow Wahine as well as Fairfield before returning to Milwaukee. Marquette will be looking to improve on their spring record of 10-4 overall and 4-2 in Big East play, which ended up not being enough to get into the NCAA tournament and thus snapped MU’s streak of nine consecutive national championship appearances.
You can check out the full list of preseason awards in the Big East’s press release right here.