The final two non-conference matches of the season for Marquette volleyball went exactly like the first nine did.
On Saturday, Marquette faced an unranked Air Force team 24 hours after the Falcons lost in five sets to Milwaukee, and the Golden Eagles snagged a relatively easy 3-0 (25-18, 25-11, 25-19) victory.
On Sunday, Marquette faced #7 Oregon two days after the Ducks won their third straight match and three days after they knocked off #8 Pitt in five sets, and the visitors showed why they are a top 10 team with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-22) win over the Golden Eagles.
Marquette is now 4-7 on the year. The Golden Eagles suffered a five match losing streak in the middle of that 11 match run of non-conference action, and all seven losses came against foes who were ranked at the time of the match. All four wins came against teams that were not ranked at the time.
Marquette seized control of the first set against Air Force in the middle of the frame. Already up 10-8, the Golden Eagles ripped off a 7-1 run and then just mostly traded points back and forth with the Falcons until Aubrey Hamilton wrapped it up at 25-18. MU got going in the second set a little bit faster, going up 10-4 in the early going and slowly pushing further and further away from the Falcons. If going up 18-9 wasn’t enough, Sienna Ifill came off the bench to help power the 7-1 run to close the set with a 25-11 victory.
The third set looks like it was a little bit more interesting by way of what the score was at the end. That’s not the whole story though, as Air Force was up 7-2 out of the gate. A 7-1 run (hey, that again) pushed MU out in front 9-8, and a 5-0 burst made it 20-14 Marquette. The Falcons fended off a couple of match points to get a little bit closer, but Hamilton ended the whole thing with a kill in right about 90 minutes.
How about some highlights, courtesy of FloSports and GoMarquette.com?
Hamilton led the team with 16 kills, and Jenna Reitsma got to 11 to help power the offense with both women hitting better than .410. When that duo can get things accomplished, Marquette’s hard to beat.
Flip forward to Sunday, and while Aubrey Hamilton had a good day with 12 kills and a .300 hitting percentage, the same can’t be said for Jenna Reitsma. She had eight kills and five errors on 35 swings for a hitting percentage of just .086. Squeeze in a sub-zero hitting day from Ella Foti and Carsen Murray heading to the bench and staying there after the first set, and you get how the Ducks were able to cruise past Marquette.
The first set fell apart on Marquette as it was 13-11 after a 3-0 run by the Golden Eagles in the middle of the frame. Then it was 16-11 as the Ducks fired right back.... and then 21-13 and it was kind of over. The Golden Eagles’ chance to make this a match came when Reitsma had one of her eight kills to pull Marquette within one, 18-17. Oregon won seven of the next nine points, boom, 2-0 Ducks, on to the third.
Considering Marquette was up 4-0 out of the gate in the fourth, maybe we should be a bit more disappointed with how it went. The lead was gone after a 3-0 burst from the Ducks made it 6-all, and that was the front half of a 6-1 run by the visitors. Still, 9-7 is competitive. Oregon pushed away after a 16-all tie with four consecutive points, and from there, they could afford to just trade points down the stretch with Marquette.
It wasn’t a bad performance by Marquette, just one where they were clearly not a top 10 caliber team, nor even close to it like the AVCA voters thought in the preseason when they were installed at #12 in the country.
Up Next: Marquette will play five straight matches before they see a ranked team again. Such is life in the Big East. Conference play starts on Friday when Villanova comes to town for a 7pm start, and Georgetown will be right behind them on Saturday evening at 6pm Central. The Wildcats are 9-3 on the year and coming off back-to-back wins over Sacred Heart and Saint Francis this past weekend. The Hoyas are also 9-3 after running through Penn, NJIT, and Delaware State all in straight sets this past weekend.