Aubrey Hamilton, y’all.
The transfer from Notre Dame made it very clear on Friday night that she wanted to keep the Marquette volleyball season alive. The #4 seeded Golden Eagles swept #5 seeded Georgia Tech, 25-23, 25-20, 25-19, behind a 17 kill, 1 ace, three assisted blocks, 7 digs performance from Hamilton, who hit .382 in the match.
To be clear: This started out going very much against Marquette. Georgia Tech’s first two points of the match went into the scorebook as errors by Hamilton, as she got rejected twice. That got the Jackets rolling and quickly it was a 6-2 GT lead... and as you might expect, Ryan Theis called timeout. Carsen Murray scored out of the break.... and Jenna Reitsma tied the set at 8 before an Ella Foti ace put the Golden Eagles out in front 9-8.
Yeah, it was like that, and no, I don’t mind telling you that I showed up a teensy bit late and walked into the arena during that timeout that Theis called. Am I a good luck charm? Who can say?
After GT knotted it up at 9, MU scored the next two for an 11-9 lead and forced a timeout from the Yellow Jackets. From there, the rest of the set was a duel. Tied at 12, 15, and 17, and then the two sides just traded points back and forth. Georgia Tech took the lead, MU tied, over and over and over. A kill from Foti thanks to a blocking error by GT’s Erin Moss getting into the net gave MU their first lead since 15-14, and after a timeout from the visitors, Jenna Reitsma closed the thing out with a solo block. 25-23, MU closes the frame on a 23-17 stretch.
The final three points of the first set and the first three points of the second went to Marquette. But that didn’t deter the Yellow Jackets. While MU had the advantage, Georgia Tech kept it within shouting distance, and eventually Bianca Bertolino knotted the set at nine each. Marquette answered with the next three points, and then it turned into point trading again. It stayed either a 1 or 2 point lead for Marquette up to 16-15, and then the Golden Eagles scored three straight, aided by a successful challenge by head coach Ryan Theis for a 19-15 lead and a timeout from Georgia Tech. MU held the line at four points, again thanks to a challenge by Theis, and a failed challenge from the Yellow Jackets put MU up five, 23-18. GT would get two more points, but kills from Hattie Bray and Carsen Murray closed the frame out.
I want to be clear: This was not a pretty set, not with both teams failing to even hit .190. But it was a Marquette win, and it moved them to just needing one more set to advance, so it wasn’t all bad.
The last two of the second set combined with the first four of the third for a 6-0 burst for the Golden Eagles, and MU just kept right on chugging through a Georgia Tech timeout for a 7-1 lead to start this set. Even down 2-0, the Jackets didn’t get down on themselves and pulled within one at 9-8. That 8th point for GT was highly controversial, and I don’t know what exactly the original call was other than it was officially scored as an attack error for Reitsma after Theis lost a challenge. MU then ripped off five straight points with three coming as net violations one way or another and a fourth as merely an attacking error that GT lost a challenge over. 14-8 Marquette at that point, and still, even then, this thing was not definitively over. Georgia Tech immediately countered with three straight of their own and kept that margin around three up through 17-14. Hamilton paired up with Murray for a block, then leveled an ace across GT’s bow. Timeout by Tech, and then MU scored two more after that. 21-14. It was over now, MU just had to land the plane. That maaaaaaybe got a little more lengthy than necessary as Georgia Tech fended off match point three times, but finally it was Hattie Bray closing it out after a MU timeout.
Jenna Reitsma had a nice little evening, totaling up 13.5 points on 11 kills, an assisted block, that set winning solo stuff, and an ace as well. Hattie Bray had eight kills including the winner while hitting .312, while Yadhira Anchante finished with a double-double after leading the team in assists with 36 and digs with 114.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and ESPN+?
Up Next: We know the next round will be played on Thursday, December 8, and we know it will be against #1 in the region and #1 in the AVCA top 25 Texas as the opponent. I presume that the match will be at Texas since they’re the #1 seed, so we’ll just roll with that. Every Sweet 16 match will be on 12/8, it’s just a matter of figuring out which of the eight start times between 10am Central and 8pm Central that MU will get. I presume we’ll have to wait for the entire second round to wrap up on Saturday before we get clarity on that, so keep your eyes and ears open.