Make it nine straight.
#14 ranked Marquette volleyball made it very clear why they are the top seed in the Big East tournament on Friday evening, sweeping #5 seed Connecticut, 3-0. The Golden Eagles never let the Huskies touch the 20 point barrier, dispatching them in set scores of 25-16, 25-19, and 25-16. With the win, MU advances to Saturday’s Big East championship match.
The Golden Eagles tilted control of the first set early on, going on a 5-0 run capped by a kill from Ella Foti to take an 8-2 lead. That margin did not stand up for very long as the Huskies pushed back to within three at 11-8 off a termination from Jasmine Davis. MU answered that with a 6-1 burst for a 17-9 lead, and that was pretty much that here. The two sides effectively just traded the next 10 points back and forth before Marquette posted up the final three in a row to take a 1-0 lead off an ace by Jenna Reitsma.
Set #2 was the most interesting of the three in Omaha. UConn held the early advantage, and the standard issue back-and-forth just kept on back-and-forthing up to the Huskies pulling even at 12 points each on a kill by Madi Whitmire. Brenna Wyman’s ensuing serve went awry, and that kicked off a 9-5 stretch by the Golden Eagles that left them up 21-17 and within sight of the finish line. Never truly running away with it at any point, clearly, but firmly in control at that juncture. UConn stayed in the neighborhood, keeping it within three at 22-19, but once again: Three straight points for Marquette closed it out, this time with Connecticut miscues chipping in the final two.
I don’t know what the intermission speech from Ryan Theis was, but based on the scoring and the hitting in the third set, it certainly seemed to be something in the ballpark of “hey, if we win, we play for the title tomorrow, so let’s play as little volleyball as possible right now to stay fresh.” MU hit .355 in the final set of the day while holding UConn to just .147 in order to get out the door as fast as possible here. 6-2 out of the gate for Marquette quickly became 9-3, which turned into 14-6 in rapid fashion. UConn made a run in the middle of the frame, closing it to 17-14 to make the point clear to the Golden Eagles, and Theis did call for a timeout at point to stabilize the ship. MU went bang-bang out of the break on kills from Aubrey Hamilton and Yadhira Anchante to jumpstart an 8-2 run to close the match out. This time it was four straight to end the set not to mention six of the final seven, and it was Foti getting each of the final two points on kills to send the Golden Eagles on to Saturday’s title contest at D.J. Sokol Arena.
Aubrey Hamilton had a great afternoon to lead MU to victory, getting to a match high 17.5 points on 13 kills while hitting .333 along with a service ace, two solo blocks, and three assisted blocks. Yadhira Anchante put up 31 assists on MU’s 44 kills, so that’s nice and in the ballpark of her average, but I do want to highlight Carly Skrabak’s work here, too. Yes, she’s the libero, but Theis’ emphasis on everyone being able to pass the ball came through for MU here as Skrabak had eight assists to go with her team high 12 digs. Carsen Murray was quietly impactful, getting six kills on nine error free swings and added five assisted blocks to the proceedings.
Up Next: All we know for sure is that Marquette will be back in action at 5pm Central time on Saturday, and that the match will be on FS2. The opponent is still up in the air though, as we’re still just under an hour away from first serve between #2 Creighton and #3 Xavier in Friday’s second semifinal match. With the Bluejays sharing the regular season title at 17-1, same record as Marquette, they are favored particularly at home like this, and they did sweep the Musketeers 3-0 in Omaha in the only regular season meeting.