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#17 Marquette Volleyball Preview: vs Georgetown & vs Villanova

The Golden Eagles return to the McGuire Center for their only meetings of the year with the Hoyas and the Wildcats.

Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament - 1st Round - Georgetown v Seton Hall
The Georgetown mascot is not a crook.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Thanks to a teensy bit of help from Xavier last weekend, YOUR Marquette women’s volleyball team has already clinched a top six finish in the Big East. With 12 matches played and six more to go, Marquette sits at 11-1 in the standings and can end up with no more than seven losses. Five squads already have eight defeats in league play — yes, in just 12 matches — so the Golden Eagles are in the top six for sure.

That’s notable, or at least much more notable than it has been in years past, as the league has expanded the conference tournament to six teams from four in the past. This of course prompts the question of “what’s next to clinch?” Glad you asked! If Marquette runs their record to 13-1 this weekend with two home dates at the McGuire Center, they will guarantee themselves a top four finish in the league. St. John’s lost to Seton Hall on Wednesday night to drop them to six losses and Butler was already there. One loss with four to play means MU couldn’t go lower than where UConn sits in fourth place with five losses.

Of course, the other teams are in action. If the Golden Eagles win their matches and get help from Xavier or Creighton against Connecticut, that would sent the Huskies to six or seven losses. Ta-da, that’s a top three finish locked up. Xavier is in third place, and they’ll be hosting both UConn and Providence, although the results there can’t propel Marquette to clinch a bye to the semifinals. Not yet anyway.

I have to say, the middle of the league pounding on each other while the back end of the league being awful is really speeding things along here.

In terms of keeping an eye on Creighton for the regular season title, they will be hosting Providence and UConn, just like Xavier is. I’m not sure how everything shook out where Creighton and Xavier are travel partners this year, but there you go.

Real Quick RPI Watch Update: Marquette enters the weekend at #12 in the RPI, at least through Sunday’s competition. Georgetown is the worst RPI team in the Big East alllllllll the way down at #262, while Villanova is at #176. Needless to say, two wins here are crucial to Marquette’s chances at hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. A loss in either match, particularly against the Hoyas, would probably put an end to the discussion of a top 16 seed.

Big East Match #13: vs Georgetown Hoyas (4-19, 2-10 Big East)

Date: Friday, November 4, 2022
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: FloSports with Scott Sudikoff on the call with Katie Schoessow & Meghan Keck stopping by
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

Marquette is 20-4 all time against Georgetown. The Golden Eagles have not lost to the Hoyas since 2010, winning each of the last 17 encounters and losing just three sets in that time. MU has dropped just one set to GU in the last eight matches.

So, Georgetown’s bad, huh? Their current seven match losing streak isn’t helping, as they were 4-12 overall and 2-3 in league play before that happened. Four of their seven losses have come against Providence and UConn, two each, which is really not how you want to go about your business in general. With all of that said, the Hoyas ended up in a tie for ninth in the Big East preseason poll, and that’s also technically a tie for 10th, and sitting in 11th place after 12 matches isn’t that far off that projection.

The Hoyas are probably in for a very bad time on North 12th Street on Friday night. They are the worst hitting offense in the Big East and the worst hitting defense in the league as well. Marquette’s ranks in those two departments? #1 and #2, and they only trail Creighton in hitting percentage defense by .004, .170 to .174. If MU just plays a middle of the road average match against Georgetown, this should be a run of the mill three set win.

Mary Grace Goyena is the top offensive threat for Georgetown. She averages 3.08 kills/set, but that’s because Hoyas head coach David Heller has elected to funnel the entire offense to her. The 6’1” sophomore from Maryland will likely cross the 1,000 attack mark against Marquette as she needs just 23 more and she hasn’t had fewer than 25 swings since September 2nd. Goyena is responsible for nearly 33% of Georgetown’s total attacks this season, and she has nearly 600 more than anyone else on the team. For context: Aubrey Hamilton is MU’s leader in this department at only 25%. In case you were wondering: Goyena is hitting just .116 this season as the Hoyas hit just .153 as a team.

Emma Plutnicki has taken over the setting duties since late September, and she’s averaging 7.98 assists per set in Big East play. Lilly Costigan was handling most of the setting early in the season, but she has played just one set since September 25th’s match against Xavier.

On the defensive side, Karis Park handles the libero duties. She’s averaging 4.29 digs per set, which is pretty respectable, and she is one of just two Hoyas — Goyena is the other — to play in all of Georgetown’s 87 sets this season. There’s only two other women north of 70, which probably tells you a lot about why the Hoyas have been struggling. Chanelle Smith is averaging 1.06 blocks per set, which is third best in the Big East behind MU’s Carsen Murray and Butler’s Marisa Guisti. The Golden Eagles will need to figure out how to avoid her to get those kills to land with efficiency.

Big East Match #14: vs Villanova Wildcats (7-17, 3-9 Big East)

Date: Saturday, November 5, 2022
Time: 6pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: FloSports with Peter Ferreri on the call
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

Marquette is 21-4 all time against Villanova. The Golden Eagles are currently on an eight match winning streak against the Wildcats, which includes a 3-0 win in the 2019 Big East semifinals. MU has not lost to Villanova in Milwaukee since 2016.

Georgetown comes in on a losing streak, Villanova comes into the weekend merely on a losing trend. With a Friday night contest against DePaul pending, the Wildcats have lost seven of their last nine. That’s quite the tumble from a 1-2 start to Big East action where one of the losses was something of a scheduled defeat on the road against Creighton. That tumble is made worse by the Wildcats being picked to finish sixth in the league this season. They’re not out of contention to end up matching that poll position, but they are three games behind sixth place Butler with just six matches to play. It is very much put up or shut up time for the Wildcats.

Rose Crist and Riley Homer are tag teaming the offensive lead for Villanova with both women north of 700 attacks this season. Crist has the slight advantage on kills, 2.85 to 2.53 for Homer, but the gap gets much closer, 3.01 to 2.91, when you compare points per set for both women. If you’re a volleyball stathead, you might have figured out that neither one is performing very efficiently. We’ll just say they’re both hitting .166 and call it a day, since that’s where the two of them average out at together. It’s really too bad that head coach Josh Steinbach can’t bring himself to feature Kiera Booth more, as his best middle is averaging 2.40 kills and hitting .335 this season. That’s good!

Andrea Campos is handling most of the setting duties, and that’s been even more the case in Big East play. The junior from California is averaging 6.15 assists per set this season, but that’s up to 7.88 against league foes. Belle Morgan has played 15 sets in six matches, including seven of the eight sets last weekend, so I have no idea if we’ll see a rotation including her in Milwaukee. She’s averaging 5.97 helpers per set overall this year.

It looks like Villanova is using two defensive specialists regularly. Elizabeth Feczko leads the team at 3.42 digs/set, but Taryn Whittingham is at 2.63 and has only missed one set all season. If Izzy Plummer is available, she’s been blocking at the net really well this season at just short of a point per set in that regard, but she’s missed VU’s last three matches. Booth averages 0.77 blocks/set, but that’s about it for Nova’s best threats to disrupt MU’s attacks for points.