I like to deal in facts around here, and this is a fact: #16 ranked Marquette volleyball swept #11 Creighton — 25-119, 25-19, 25-21 — on Saturday night to secure the program’s second straight Big East regular season title.
Here’s another fact: This is the first time in program history that Marquette has won back-to-back regular season titles.
Also a fact: Because both teams are 17-1 after Saturday night’s regular season finale, officially Marquette and Creighton are co-champs for the second consecutive season.
A slightly better fact: Because the season series is tied at one win each, the tiebreaker for the #1 seed in the conference tournament goes to set wins. After the 3-2 Creighton win in Omaha, Marquette takes the season series there 5-3 over the Bluejays, so they will be the top seed in Omaha next week.
I don’t want to dig too deep into the details of what happened at the McGuire Center, because the fact of the matter is that it was a very excellent volleyball contest. It was closely contested, both teams made big plays over and over, and Marquette’s margin of victory was not that large. All three sets could easily have slid in the other direction. Take the first frame, where Marquette broke up a 9-9 tie with a 7-3 burst and then rattled off another 7-1 run to take a 23-16 lead. Looks like MU is in firm control and ready to go up 1-0, right? WRONG, Creighton took the next three, just as easy as anything, just to remind you that they were there. Hattie Bray and an error by Ava Martin were just what the doctor ordered, and that’s how it went to 1-0 MU.
7-4 Marquette early in the second became 10-all as quick as anything, and we were back to a fight. A ballhandling error by Carsen Murray let Creighton even the match at 16, and it sure looked like it was going to be a brawl to decide who was going to get to 25 first. Marquette didn’t let it get there turning a 3-0 burst into 5-1 into 7-2 into 9-3 and ta-da, that’s a 25-19 victory. It’s not a blow away run, not really, it doesn’t feel like it.... or maybe that’s just the knowledge that it’s a tough Creighton squad and you can’t just presume they’re going to roll over on you at some point?
After all, it was 2-0 Marquette in Omaha earlier this year, and the Jays got right up off the canvas (teraflex?) and won that match in five sets.
The early portion of the third set was a little bit in the Bluejays’ direction. Not heavily, never more than two points, and even that was only once at 2-0. But they were pulling it in their direction up through a 10-9 lead on a kill from Norah Sis. A kill by Ella Foti got the Golden Eagles rolling to take five of the next six points and go up 14-11.... and then, after a kill by Kiana Schmitt for CU, Marquette popped off five of the next seven, with only service errors giving Creighton their points. 19-14, and the Bluejay offense was stuck in neutral.
Sis tried to keep Creighton in it, but when MU started grabbing two points at a time against Sis’ one, it wasn’t going to work long term. A kill by Hattie Bray made it 23-16 and oh my god they’re going to do it, I thought to myself.
HERE COME THE BLUEJAYS WITH FOUR STRAIGHT OH MY GOD THEY’RE UNKILLABLE.
Attack error by Martin. Match point, Marquette. Championship point, Marquette.
Martin made up for her boo-boo with a staving point, but then Jenna Reitsma, Marquette’s leading returning attacker from last season, got to wrap up the league title with a kill.
Reitsma’s championship winning point gave her a team high 11 kills on the evening, although it took her 32 swings to get there. Carsen Murray didn’t even take a swing until the second set, but she finished with five strikes on just seven attacks. Yadhira Anchante was her usual wonderful self, putting up a double-double on 34 assists and 12 digs. Anchante was matched in digs by Carly Skrabak, but it was Reitsma who had the team lead with 13. Reitsma also led MU in aces in the match as they put up nine as a team. Getting to 75 points faster than the other team gets a lot easier when you get nine of them without the ball even coming back over the net.
Up Next: We don’t know. I mean, we know it will be the Big East tournament semifinals as the #1 seed gets to skip the quarterfinal round. But that also means that Marquette has to wait for the 4/5 quarterfinal match to play out before we know the opponent. Even the seeding won’t be decided until Sunday, as there’s still two more league contests to be played on Sunday. GoMarquette.com says that MU’s semifinal match will be at 4pm Central time on Friday, November 25th, but we should probably wait for the official bracket from the league before we say that for certain.