Big outings from both Jenna Reitsma and Aubrey Hamilton carried the day for #6 seeded Marquette volleyball on Thursday afternoon in the first round of the 2023 NCAA tournament. Double digit kills from both women led the Golden Eagles to a 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-14) victory over Eastern Illinois.
While Marquette outhit the Panthers .362 to .111, that’s maybe not where the Golden Eagles did the most damage in this match. MU had 11 blocks in the contest against just two rejections for EIU. Marquette recorded nine service aces against just two for the Panthers. That’s a +16 point differential there, and when the sport is, to a certain extent, first to 75 wins, getting points from somewhere other than your offense is incredibly valuable.
Marquette tipped over the first set in the middle section, as a service error by Eastern Illinois was the first point in a 6-1 burst that left MU up 19-11. The Panthers showed why they were the double champions of the Ohio Valley Conference by rallying to cut the margin to just three, 22-19, but MU stacked up three kills, one each from Anastasija Svetnik, Aubrey Hamilton, and Jenna Reitsma, to get the 1-0 lead.
The second set saw Marquette get out to a 6-2 lead early, let EIU tie it at 7, and then go back up 12-7 right away. The Golden Eagles stopped the Panthers from scoring more than one point in a row until after they were up 21-12, and EIU’s Laura Paniagua fired a service error to give the W to the Golden Eagles.
More of the same followed in the third set: Early Marquette advantage, Eastern Illinois making it interesting, MU creating space. It was 17-13 Marquette after a service error by MU setter Yadhira Anchante, but the Golden Eagles responded with a 6-0 run for a 23-13 lead. It wouldn’t have been surprising if Marquette played it safe and made the easy play and let the game come to them to close out the match. That’s not what happened, as they closed out the set with back-to-back blocks with Svetnik partnering with Carsen Murray and Hattie Bray.
Jenna Reitsma led all players with 13 kills, and she hit a stellar .423 to get there. Aubrey Hamilton was right behind her, racking up 10 kills and hitting .346 on the day. Yadhira Anchante had a double-double on 25 assists and 14 digs, both of which were team highs. Carsen Murray may have altered the trajectory of the game all by herself, helping to alter the trajectory of nine EIU attacks for an assisted block, plus she recorded six kills as well.
Marquette advances to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in six seasons, and so.........
2023 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament
#3 Purdue Boilermakers vs #6 Marquette Golden Eagles (21-10, 16-2 Big East)
Date: Friday, December 1, 2023
Time: 6pm Central
Location: Holloway Gymnasium, West Lafayette, Indiana
Live Stats: NCAA.com, because the NCAA is a bunch of freaks about live stats for the tournament..... but a smart person who knows where stats are broadcast can find them, too.
Bluesky Updates: @AnonymousEagle
All-Time Series: Purdue leads, 4-0
Purdue advances to the second round by way of a 3-0 win in their home building against Fairfield. That match got increasingly lopsided the longer it went, as the Boilermakers won with scores of 25-17, 25-13, and 25-12. Purdue hit over .400 in every set and finished at .478 for the match.
We don’t have to do much hypothetical previewing of this match because we know what it looks like when these two teams get together. They’ve already squared off once this season, clashing on a neutral court on September 1st. Marquette took a 3-2 loss in that game in Lawrence, Kansas, which was between #19 MU and #25 Purdue at the time.
Saying MU lost 3-2 isn’t representative of what happened in that match. Now, I can’t tell you what it looked like because Kansas didn’t put a stream of it together. However, I can tell you that Marquette won the first and third sets for a 2-1 lead. All they had to do was close the door on the match. They went up 21-17 late in the fourth, and then 23-18. A stiff breeze could close the door. 24-21. One point away. Marquette had four tries to win it. 24-21, 24-22, 24-23, and 25-24. Couldn’t do it. Purdue wins the fourth 29-27.
The fifth set looked like it was going to run away from the Golden Eagles, with the Boilermakers going up 12-8. Nope, MU tied it at 12 and fended off match point twice to tie the thing at 14 and again at 15. They never took the advantage to put Purdue in jeopardy, and the Boilermakers got the winning points they needed for back-to-back extra point set victories and the match win.
MU beat Eastern Illinois because both Aubrey Hamilton and Jenna Reitsma had good days. That wasn’t the case against Purdue earlier this season. Hamilton was fine, getting 23 kills and hitting .283. Reitsma was off most of the match, hitting just .138 on 29 swings. One change that will happen from that first encounter this year is the lack of Ella Foti for the Golden Eagles. She hit .150 on 40 swings in Kansas, but while she is in Indiana right now, the hard red plastic brace on Foti’s hand seems to indicate that she’s in no condition to play on Friday. What changes about Marquette’s gameplan for the Boilermakers when Anastasija Svetnik is getting Foti’s playing time instead?
Eva Hudson was the leader for Purdue in the first meeting with 21 kills on 55 swings. That has held up all season, as she’s the season long leader at 4.42 kils per set. Hudson is hitting .263 on the year, but she hit .309 against Marquette. That’s an acceptable differential, I would think, but MU is going to have to come up with some way to slow her down anyway. Chloe Chicoine is Purdue’s #2 attacker at 3.84 kills/set, and MU did slow her down in the first meeting. Chicoine had 17 kills across five sets, sure, but she also had nine errors and since she matched Hudson in swing, she hit just .145.
Purdue’s going to look a little bit different from that first meeting. In that one, Lorrin Poulter and Taylor Anderson split time at setter, appearing in three and two sets respectively and tallying 28 and 24 assists. Since then, Poulter has played in just 19 sets while Anderson has taken over as the full time setter. It’ll almost assuredly be Anderson the whole time on Friday, and we’ll have to see if Marquette facing just one setter the whole time has any impact on how the Golden Eagles defend the Boilermakers.