Let’s hit the big picture, shall we? It does not — or at the very least should not — truly matter that #14 ranked Marquette volleyball lost in five sets to #15 ranked Creighton in the Bluejays’ building in the Big East conference tournament championship match on Saturday evening. It is still a wildly successful season for the Golden Eagles at 27-3 on the year heading into Selection Sunday, particularly since they secured the program’s first ever back-to-back regular season title a week ago with a home win over these self-same Bluejays.
It also sucks big time that Marquette lost in five sets (16-25, 25-20, 25-18, 31-33, 15-12) to Creighton in the Big East title match.
I’m not going to get into the point-by-point of it all. It’s MU’s second match in as many days and we’re going to be talking NCAA tournament — and hopefully about Marquette hosting in said tournament — tomorrow, so I’m not going to bog down in details.
But it sucks big time.
Marquette won the first set in resounding fashion over the Bluejays. Almost bordering on one-sided, and given that it was two top 20 programs, 25-16 is actually pretty one-sided. Things turned on MU in the second and third sets as Creighton settled in with their home crowd behind them, and the Bluejays took a 2-1 set lead.
Then the fourth set happened, which Marquette needed to win just to keep the best-of-five match alive. It did not start well, with Creighton taking a 6-2 lead and extending that to 10-5 in the early going. MU shouldered their way back into the thing pretty quickly, and the two sides just dueled to the finish.... and that finish was too close to arrive at in a normal fashion. It’s a win-by-two sport, after all. Marquette, insanely, got to set point first, 24-23, but the Bluejays fended it off. Creighton would fend off set point seven times before scoring back-to-back points to take a 31-30 lead and get themselves to a match point circumstance. MU fended that off with a kill from Jenna Reitsma and back-to-back errors by Big East Player of the Year Norah Sis finally let Marquette get the 33-31 win and send it to a decisive fifth set.
As always, I have objections to playing to only 15 in the fifth set after four sets to 25. This fifth set is a good example of this. Creighton took a 5-2 lead early, but Marquette evened it at seven each before going up 9-8. Jays take a 10-9 lead, MU ties it at 10. Are you really telling me that it’s a fair measure of volleyball that the first team to score five points at this juncture wins? C’mon.
That’s what happened. Creighton got four of the next five points for a 14-11 lead, and the Golden Eagles just could not stem the tide. Jays win, Jays win the tournament title, Jays win the season series, 2-1, with two wins in Nebraska, Jays win even though MU wins the sets 7-6 across the three meetings.
Aubrey Hamilton had a match and career best 25 kills in this match, hitting 235 and adding 15 digs for a double-double. Carsen Murray added 15 kills while hitting an absolutely silly .636, Hattie Bray had 12 kills, and Ella Foti rounds out the double-digit crew with 11. Yadhira Anchante wrangled together 57 of Marquette’s 71 assists on 74 kills and added a match high 25 digs even while playing setter for the Golden Eagles.
Up Next: Tomo.....wait, no, it’s after midnight as I type this after the men’s basketball game. Today is now Selection Sunday. At 6:30pm on ESPNU, the NCAA will announce the pairings and seedings for the 2022 NCAA tournament. I expect to find out that Marquette is hosting for the first two rounds.... but we’ll have to wait and see.