After downing #11 Kentucky on Friday night to start the 2022 season in a big way, Marquette volleyball had one mission: Don’t screw up the impending national ranking. MU earned votes in the preseason AVCA top 25 poll, and with a win over the preseason #11 team, all they had to do was still be unbeaten when the votes had to be sent in to get into the top 25.
That meant beating Ohio in a relatively empty Memorial Coliseum in Lexington less than 24 hours after the match with Kentucky. Perhaps not the most ideal circumstances, but if you’re good enough to beat Kentucky, Ohio should be a relatively easy production.
That mostly turned out to be the case, as MU won in straight sets, 25-17, 25-16, and 25-15, to move to 2-0 on the season.
At a glance, the story of the match is Marquette putting the clamps on Ohio. The Bobcats hit just .200 in the opening frame and never matched that in the other two. Ohio had 35 attacks in set #1, but never reached that many again, and MU provoked them into doubling up their three first set errors in both the second and third set.
This is notable because Marquette wasn’t a picture of offensive firepower in this game. They hit .280 as a team overall and barely crested over .300 in the final two frames. By the end, the two teams were separated by just one error over all, 16 for Ohio and 15 for Marquette, as the Golden Eagles never committed fewer than four in any of the three frames.
With that said, the first set was pretty straight forward in Marquette’s direction from the onset. 5-0 right out of the gate, powered by two kills from Carsen Murray, and it would take until 11-9 for Ohio to get as close as just two points again. Marquette took seven of the next nine points to go up 18-11, and Ohio wouldn’t get closer than four points, 21-17, before the Golden Eagles closed it out with four straight points.
The second set started out as a back and forth affair, and in fact, Ohio led 1-0, 7-6, and 9-8 in the early goings. MU took control with four straight there, with two points coming on Ohio errors, and the Golden Eagles would never trail again in the set. A kill by Murray and then a block where she paired with Ella Foti helped MU go up five, 16-11, and before long that turned into a 7-1 run to make the lead 20-12. Yes, that’s a 12-3 burst overall, and it was pretty much just academic from that point until a block by Murray and Aubrey Hamilton wrapped it up.
Marquette got out to an early five point lead, 7-2, in the third set to establish how fast this thing was going to end. Ohio scoring the next point gave the set the smallest margin it would see the rest of the way as the Golden Eagles kept pushing away: 10-4, 14-7, and 18-9. Two final errors by the Bobcats were pinned around a kill by Ella Holmstrom as MU scored the final three points of the set and the match.
Partly because of the quick turnaround from Friday and partly because of the expanded margins for most of the match, Ryan Theis went deep into his bench in this one. Jenna Reitsma ended up leading MU in kills with 12 and she was the only player to break into double digits, although Carsen Murray got to nine. Nine different players recorded at least one kill and eight different players had more than two swings at the net.
Yadhira Anchante continued to show why she picked up two National Player of the Year trophies in her two seasons at Iowa Western. 32 assists in three sets is great work, especially when she posted five of Marquette’s 43 kills by herself. She also added three aces and six digs along the way to provide pop all across the board. Murray and Hamilton tied for the team lead in blocks with three assisted stuffs each, while Carly Skrabak got north of five digs a frame by posting 16 total in the match.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and ESPN?
Up Next: Whatever ranking Marquette ends up getting on Monday afternoon, it’s going to be immediately put to test. Match #3 of the season waits on Friday night as MU heads a little bit west to square off against Wisconsin. The Badgers are the 2021 NCAA national champion and started off the season at #3 in the preseason poll. UW is 1-1 on the year after beating TCU but losing in five sets to #16 Baylor in Fort Worth over the weekend. MU will also have a weekend contest in Madison against High Point, and the Panthers are 3-0 after the opening weekend of the season.