On Thursday, the 2022 Marquette volleyball season came to an end in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament.
On Friday night, the 2023 Marquette volleyball roster changed, as Illinois State outside hitter Sarah Kushner took to Twitter to announce that she will be transferring to Marquette for her final season of eligibility.
not done yet ;) so excited to share that i will be attending marquette university next fall to finish up my eligibility while also getting my masters degree. so excited to be a golden eagle! pic.twitter.com/w0zbLmpEWD— Sarah Kushner (@sarah_kushh) December 10, 2022
Kushner, a 5’10” outside hitter from Naperville, Illinois, has spent all of the last four seasons with Illinois State. She played in every single match of her first three seasons with the Redbirds, but was limited to just 24 of 29 matches and 87 of 109 sets this season due to injury, and that injury hampered her in ISU’s final seven matches of the season. Kushner earned All-Missouri Valley Conference Tournament honors as a freshman in 2019, All-MVC Second Team honors as a sophomore, and All-MVC First Team honors in 2021.
For her career, Kushner is averaging 2.49 kills per set and hitting .163. In 2020, and 2021, her two best and also healthy years with the Redbirds, Kushner averaged 3.11 kills and 2.90 kills respectively. Across her entire career with ISU, Kushner has never been her team’s leading attacker, although perhaps she came the closest as a senior this fall. She was averaging 2.77 kills/set when she suffered her injury, and she had two teammates end up averaging 2.81 and 2.86 by season’s end.
The fact that Kushner has never been the featured player for ISU does add a little bit of clarity to this move for Theis. Marquette projects to return all six players who averaged more than a kill per set this past season, including outside hitters Aubrey Hamilton and Jenna Reitsma along with setter-turned-outside hitter Ella Foti. At a glance, particularly when you see Ella Holmstrom having a pretty solid freshman year, including leading Marquette to a win against Loyola Chicago in September, it doesn’t seem like there’s space for Kushner in this rotation. However, if Theis was forced to ask Foti to move to hitter because MU was depleted at the position and if he’d prefer her to split time at setter with Yadhira Anchante to keep Anchante fresh.... well, now we’re starting to see how Kushner could fit in. Keep in mind, Kushner also averaged 2.73 digs per set for her career and 0.28 service aces per set as well. That fits in with the multi-dimensional mold of a player that Theis prefers on his roster.
We’ll have to wait and see how it all comes together, and the Golden Eagles have a long time between now and late August to hammer it all out.
(h/t @benschultz52 & @MUWireSports)