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#23 Marquette Eventually Dispatches Loyola-Chicago

It took four sets when it didn’t have to take four sets, but the Golden Eagles ended up with the win.

It was, mostly speaking, not particularly stylish volleyball at the McGuire Center on Tuesday night. Nevertheless, with both ends of the student section packed to the gills, YOUR #23 ranked Marquette Golden Eagles picked up a 3-1 (25-19, 25-14, 27-29, 25-19) win over Loyola Chicago. It was the first home game of the year for MU, so they are now 1-0 at home this season and 4-1 overall.

As you would expect from a team that won a very competent Missouri Valley Conference a year ago, Loyola didn’t show any fear in going right at Marquette in the first set. It was neck-and-neck for a good long stretch, and the thing didn’t break open in either direction until Jadyn Garrison crushed three straight aces to cap an 8-1 run by the Golden Eagles. That brought the score to 20-15, and MU just had to repel one last Ramblers push before securing the first set victory.

Set #2 turned quicker as Ella Foti popped off three kills in a 5-0 Marquette run to give the home team an 11-4 lead. That margin grew to nine at 16-8 on a kill by — guess who — Foti, and then eventually to 10, 19-9, on a kill by Aubrey Hamilton. The Golden Eagles held the visitors at arm’s length until Ella Holmstrom closed out the set with three straight kills.

This is a perfect time to stop and highlight Holmstrom’s play on the night. By the time things were done, the freshman from Rockford, Illinois, had connected on 17 of her 34 swings in the game for a match high 17 kills on a .294 hitting percentage. Holmstrom came in to her first ever home game with just four kills on the season and just 10 total swings in Marquette’s first four matches this fall. Is it a one off performance where the coaching staff just let her run wild? Is she suddenly grabbing the brass ring as MU’s #2 hitter behind Aubrey Hamilton? Is this going to turn into 1A and 1B between the two of them? No idea, but what we do know is that this is her first season of college volleyball and if this is the starting point, then the sky’s the limit.

Oh, and Holmstrom also had two assists and four assisted blocks. She’s fancy like that.

The second set was the best one of the night for Marquette from a hitting percentage perspective. Hitting .317 after a first set percentage of .108 was a welcome addition to the proceedings, but MU’s defense evaporated on them for the third set. They had held Loyola to .045 and .108 in the first two sets, but the Ramblers got it together to hit .283 in the third.

And yet, Marquette nearly put them away. Should have put them away, in fact, quite honestly. Loyola started out with a 4-0 lead, but Marquette had it tied by the time it got to 5. They didn’t take the lead though, not until — surprise — Holmstrom laid down back to back kills to make it 16-15. A service error by Loyola late in the frame turned service over to Marquette, and Holmstrom again rapped down two more to make it 21-19 and then another for 22-20. Kills from Hamilton and Carsen Murray moved the margin to 24-23, and set point for Marquette.

The Golden Eagles would score consecutive points again in the frame, and Addie Barnes got two to go for the Ramblers, and bang, 29-27, Loyola takes the third. Right there in their hands, just let it slip away.

The fourth set started out the way most of the match had gone, nice and tight, back and forth. Four straight for Marquette with kills from Hamilton and Hattie Bray and a block from Murray paired with setter Yadhira Anchante made it 14-10 Marquette. Loyola scored the next three to tighten things back down again, and there they stayed through a 5-1 run by the Golden Eagles that cost Loyola both of their time outs. 21-16 Marquette after a handling error by Bayley McMenimen..... and the second time out worked. Three straight for the visitors, capped by an ace from Bree Borum, and it was 21-19. Same old close set coming down to the wire. Marquette needed to close this out in the worst way, and head coach Ryan Theis called timeout to emphasize that point.

Service error for Borum.

Ace from Jenna Reitsma.

Kill by Hamilton, officially a blocking error by LUC’s Emily Banitt.

Kill by Bray.

25-19, never any doubt, right, Marquette fans?

Ella Holmstrom was joined by Aubrey Hamilton (15 kills) and Ella Foti (12) in double digit kill town. It was something of a weird match for MU in the kills department, as it was a “either you get at least five kills, or you get none” match. Thanks to some snazzy MU passing elsewhere on the floor, Yadhira Anchante was “held” to just 36 assists in the match, but she finished with a double-double thanks to 17 digs to go with her five kills. Jenna Reitsma had 12 kills, while libero Carly Skrabak led the Golden Eagles with 19.

How about some highlights, thanks to FloSports and

Up Next: The Golden Eagles are off til this weekend before they continue this 10 match homestand. They’ve got one match on Saturday and one on Sunday. Saturday’s will be a 1pm start against LSU with the Tigers venturing out on the road with a record of 3-3 and facing Milwaukee on Friday night. Sunday will be against those self same Panthers, and they are 1-5 pending that LSU match with only a win over Bradley so far this season. First serve on Sunday is set for 1pm as well.