Would you believe that we’re in the final week of non-conference action for Marquette volleyball?? It’s true! As you’re reading this, it’s Tuesday morning at the earliest, which means one week from tomorrow, September 21st, is the first Big East match of the year.
Now, yeah, there’s a certain amount of “oh my goodness where does the time go” there, but also a “oh boy there’s a lot of season left to go.” Remember, the Big East tournament isn’t until Thanksgiving week! That’s over two months away! 18 conference dates to go through, and that’s after the three that the Golden Eagles still have this week!
The good news is that I think Marquette is about as ready for the grind of conference play as they can get. If you consider the number of question marks hanging over the team’s head in early August against where they are now — i.e. one loss on the year, and that one was on the road against the reigning national champs on their Banner Night, so eh — then everything has gone nearly perfectly this season so far.
The key, then, is making sure things continue that way. Sure, a lot of things have hammered themselves out. Marquette has figured out how to play together, and considering how many newcomers are on the roster as well as holdovers playing new roles — hello, Hattie Bray, for example — it’s actually quite impressive that things have gone so well so far.
But I’m sure the coaching staff is knowing and finding and pointing out the tiny things that MU can do better as the season goes along. This week gives them one final chance to tune up before the chase for a second straight Big East title begins. That starts tonight at the McGuire Center against.....
Match #7: vs Green Bay Phoenix (5-4)
Date: Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB
Marquette is 31-9 all time against Green Bay. The Golden Eagles are currently on a 16 match winning streak that started in 1997. The last meeting came in 2019, with a 3-0 sweep at the McGuire Center.
We can kind of say that Green Bay’s season has turned a little bit. Over the last two weekends, they’ve gone 2-1 in both cases and have only lost to the team that was hosting the event that they were participating. That’s not too bad, and that’s a touch better than losing at Colorado and against Western Michigan out in Boulder like they did in the first weekend of the season. Small victories, including a 3-1 win over Alabama last Friday morning. Sure, Alabama’s not expected to be particularly great in the SEC this season, but celebrate when you beat a power conference program, y’know?
Anyway, that’s how you get to 5-4 after being picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League this season. If you’ll recall, Milwaukee was picked to finish second in that league this year, and Marquette rolled through the Panthers relatively easily. Does that mean roughly the same fate awaits the Phoenix? We’ll see?!?
Everyone who’s averaging more than a kill per set so far this year has played in every single set for Green Bay to this point, so that’s pretty good consistency. Alexandra Zakutney, a 5’10” redshirt junior from Canada, leads the way at 3.18 kills/set, and she’s the only one over three a game. Tiffany Paalman is the only other attacker above 2.5, which is a kind of bad news, since the middle blocker from Appleton is only fourth on the team in total swings right now. That’s hat happens when you hit .357, I guess, but also maybe GB needs to get her more involved in the offense?
Marquette is going to have to be on their toes when they take their swings because Paalman is one of two women averaging at least one block a set. Angie Gromos, a 6’5” grad transfer from Northern Illinois, is racking up the stuffs to the tune of 1.36 per frame, so the Golden Eagles are going to need to find away around her one way or another.