Well, Marquette volleyball lost.
It’s been a long time — 13 straight matches — since we saw that happen for the Golden Eagles, so it’s a little weird to experience. If there’s good news to a loss, it’s the second most scheduled loss on the calendar this season, and one that’s always a rough go of things for MU: the road trip to Omaha to visit Creighton.
The loss, combined with a win over Xavier two days later, leaves the Golden Eagles at 16-2 on the season and 7-1 in Big East play. That’s one game behind the 8-0 Bluejays and one game in front of third place St. John’s. Because I know y’all can read real good, you’ve already figured out that this means the Golden Eagles can expand on their lead over the Johnnies this weekend.
Nothing has been clinched at all in the Big East yet, so Marquette has to approach the next nine contests with one thing in mind: Put themselves in position to force a tie for the Big East regular season title. The regular season finale is Marquette hosting Creighton, so the goal has to be to get to that match with a chance to force a tie for the title. Odds are that Creighton isn’t going to lose between now and then, so Marquette has to match them win for win between now and November 19th.
To a certain extent, that means that every match between now and then, including the two at the McGuire Center this weekend, have the Big East championship on the line.
Thrilling, huh? Maybe?
A fun addition note to the schedule: On Saturday, Marquette is hosting Trick Or Treat At The Al. MU hasn’t published any details of what exactly that means, but it feels like a safe bet that if you want to bring your kids to participate, you should prepare to get to the building long before the 4pm start time.
Big East Match #9: vs Seton Hall Pirates (13-7, 4-4 Big East)
Marquette is 21-5 all time against Seton Hall. The Golden Eagles’ winning streak in the series now sits at 12 straight, which is every match since SHU knocked MU out in the 2014 Big East tournament semifinals.
When last we convened to talk about Seton Hall, I opined at length about the likelihood that SHU head coach Shannon Thompson would be named Big East Coach of the Year. It would appears that I have, ever so slightly, jinxed the holy hell out of the Pirates. While they won their next match after I wrote that, a 3-2 hold on for dear life win over DePaul, their 3-0 loss to Marquette was the start of a three match skid for Seton Hall. They lost at St. John’s last Wednesday, and then went out to Butler on Friday and got beat as well, with both losses going in the books as 3-1. I would very much like to see their streak extended to four straight losses, and so I feel slightly bad about everything that’s going on here.
Not much has changed for the Pirates in the statistical department since there’s only been one week of play since these two teams collided. Jenna Walsh is Seton Hall’s leading attacker at 3.44 kills per set, and she’s way out in front of everyone in terms of carrying the load as the primary attacker as well. Bianca Bucciarelli and Perri Lucas provide the Pirates with a lot of pop as secondary options, although Lucas’ per set average has drifted southwards a little bit to just 2.41/set. Thompson has Seton Hall using a two setter rotation, and both Maddie Klungel and Taylor Jakubowski are averaging more than 4.7 assists per frame this season. They’re almost identical now, with just 0.06 assists separating the two. Even libero and noted Wisconsin product Anna Holland gets into the passing fray and she’s averaging just over an assist per set to go with her team high 4.24 digs.
Seton Hall is middle of the pack in the Big East at converting blocks to points, but whatever action they do create, it’s because of Asli Subasili. She averages a team high 1.09 blocks per set, just a little bit up from two weeks ago, and the 6’2” Turkish freshman is probably going to cause all sorts of problems for the league for a long while.
Big East Match #10: vs St. John’s Red Storm (15-6, 6-2 Big East)
Marquette is 22-6 all time against St. John’s. The Golden Eagles have won 11 of the last 12 meetings including the last four encounters since the Red Storm won the 2019 Big East championship at the McGuire Center.
St. John’s had won nine of their last 10 when Marquette was coming to Queens a couple of weeks ago, but the Golden Eagles handed them a 3-0 loss. The Red Storm bounced back right away with wins over DePaul, Seton Hall, and Butler. That has them rolling along at 6-2 right now and alone in third place after separating themselves from the Pirates. They’ve in a solid position to make a run to the postseason, at least into the six team Big East tournament, but they do have two contests with Creighton and a visit to local rival Seton Hall still looming in the distance after this trip to the Midwest. REMINDER: St. John’s will be visiting DePaul on Friday night before coming north to Milwaukee.
As is the case with Seton Hall, not much has changed for St. John’s from a statistical point of view since MU tangled with them on October 7th. Giorgia Walther continues to lead the attack with 3.78 kills/set, while Rachele Rastelli is right along behind her at 3.63. Both women aren’t bowling you over with their accuracy at .232 and .256 in the hitting percentage department respectively. Even with Walther missing two sets along the way this season, she still has 50 more swings on the season than Rastelli does.
Polish sophomore Wiktoria Kowalczyk keeps the international theme going amongst the Johnnies’ top line players as she averages 10.92 assists per set. She leads the league and is one of just three (CU’s Kendra Wait and MU’s Yadhira Anchante are the other two) who are north of 10 helpers a set overall on the year. St. John’s is last in the Big East in digs, so it’s probably not a surprise to see Bree Martin leading the team with just 3.17 and only one other player above two digs per frame. Magda Stambrowska is putting down 1.10 blocks per set for points, a shade up from two weeks ago, and Eleonora Tosi is just barely under 1.0 there as well. The Red Storm have some deep bench options who are averaging a full block or better as well, so it’s clearly not an accident that they’re #2 in the league in that department.