It was a big test for Marquette volleyball on Friday night at the McGuire Center, and they passed it.
Behind a match high 13 kills from Aubrey Hamilton and another 10 from middle blocker Hattie Bray, the Golden Eagles snagged a 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-19) victory over #15 Creighton. Those three sets represent a lot of things:
- It is Marquette’s first win over a team ranked at the time of the match this season in eight tries.
- The win moves Marquette to 6-0 in the Big East standings while dropping Creighton, the Golden Eagles’ primary rival for league supremacy, to 3-2.
- With the rest of Friday’s results, Marquette now has at least a two game lead in the standings on everyone in the Big East with the exception of 4-1 St. John’s.
- It is the first time in series history that Marquette has won consecutive regular season matches against Creighton, as the Golden Eagles won the regular season finale a year ago.
- It is just the seventh win over Creighton in program history, as MU’s record now stands at 7-26.
How did it happen? Well, it started with Marquette losing their hold on a 5-1 lead to start the first set. The Bluejays scored the next six points, and from there, it looked like the Golden Eagles were going to let a plum opportunity slip out of their hands, up to and including a service error by Yadhira Anchante putting Creighton up 20-18.
And then Marquette closed the set on a 7-1 run. Creighton’s Ava Martin returned the favor with a service error of her own, Sarah Kushner aced the Jays twice, and Hattie Bray teamed up with Ella Foti to reject a Destiny Ndam-Simpson attack to win the set and go up 1-0 on the nationally ranked Bluejays.
Set #2 was more of the back-and-forth action that you’d expect when these two teams get together. A 7-3 burst from Marquette was capped by a kill from Aubrey Hamilton through the midway of the frame to put the home team up 18-13, but Creighton wasn’t going to go softly into that good night. Four straight Bluejays points, with Ndam-Simpson, Kiara Reinhardt, and Kiana Schmitt all scoring in different ways, evened the whole thing out at 20 points apiece. MU answered with a 4-1 burst, 2-1-2, with back-to-back miscues from Creighton getting the Golden Eagles to set point. After a Ndam-Simpson kill and a misfire by Hamilton extended the match and brought the Bluejays to the brink of forcing extra points, it was a service error by Ndam-Simpson, firing away into the net, that made it 2-0 in Milwaukee.
With that lead propping them up, Marquette jumped all over Creighton to start the third. 3-0 turned into 6-1 which itself became 8-2 and then 9-3 after a pair of traded points. That was the edge Marquette needed. It let the Golden Eagles get comfortable and put the Bluejays on edge. They would cut into the margin, getting as close as three points at 15-12, but a stretch favoring Marquette 4-2 made it 19-14. With that big early lead, MU didn’t need big runs, they just needed to avoid giving one to the Bluejays. 21-16, 22-17, 24-18, match point on the rare libero kill from Sarah Kushner.
The Bluejays fended it off one more time, getting Hamilton to commit just her second error of the entire match, but one final service error, the 11th of the match for Creighton, gave the Golden Eagles the set and the match.
The errors by the Bluejays were a big help for the Golden Eagles on this night. Yes, great nights from Hamilton, who hit .379, and from Bray, who hit .412, but there was some struggling elsewhere. Carsen Murray did not record a kill on nine swings, which is incredibly rare for her, while Jenna Reitsma and Ella Foti hit just .100 and .000 respectively. A win is a win, and you take it happily, but sometimes it’s nice to get a big win and still be able to say “we can play better than that.”
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and FloSports?
Up Next: Since Marquette played mid-week, they’re done for the weekend and won’t be back in action until next Friday. The Scheduling Coincidence Gods are hard at work, as MU will have a chance to open up a commanding lead in the standings next weekend if the rest of the weekend doesn’t help them out anyway. On Friday, they’ll visit Seton Hall for a 5pm Central time start, and then on Saturday, they’ll bounce over to Queens to visit second place St. John’s at 4pm Central. The Pirates are 8-8 on the year and 2-3 in the Big East after falling 3-1 at Butler on Friday, and they’ll face Xavier on Saturday. The Red Storm, as mentioned earlier, are in second place in the Big East at 4-1 after downing Xavier in Cincinnati on Friday, and they’ll switch places with Seton Hall for Saturday and host DePaul next Friday before MU gets to take a crack at them.