After a bit of a back-and-forth opening set, #10 Marquette volleyball settled in and beat Butler 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-15) on Wednesday afternoon. The Golden Eagles are now a sparkling 11-2 on the year, and perhaps more importantly, are now in first place in the Big East at 1-0.
Yes, it’s a tie with Xavier as they beat DePaul on Wednesday as well, and yes, no one else has played yet. Shush. Still counts.
What happened in the first set is entirely up to your opinion. On one hand, Marquette held Butler to nine kills and eight errors for a hitting percentage of just .027 and really just held the Bulldogs at bay after leading 21-15. On the other hand, MU hit .108 themselves, committing nine attack errors and let the Bulldogs close to within two, 21-19, before closing on a 4-3 advantage to win the set. Did they look particularly great? No. Did they struggle to beat a team that has just three wins to their name to this point of the season? At least a little bit!
Sets #2 and #3 were more in line with what you’d expect from the #10 team in the country squaring off with a conference rival with three wins on the year. MU kept playing the same kind of defense in the second set, but got much better on offense. Marquette committed just four errors in the set and hit .235, while holding Butler to just .056. Nowhere was this more evident than MU’s first four points of the set, as all came on Butler attack errors. Suddenly Marquette was up 4-1, and was handed control of the frame. A 6-0 boosted the margin from 7-4 to 13-4, and it was pretty much all coasting from there.
In the third, Marquette got white hot, hitting .515 while recording 19 kills on 33 attacks. Eight of MU’s first 10 points in the set came on kills, and they found themselves up 10-5 at that point. Freshman Hannah Vanden Berg was a big boost there, logging four of her seven kills in the match in that stretch. From there it was just a matter of Marquette playing Marquette’s game. Head coach Ryan Theis dipped into his bench a bit, getting playing time for Claire Mosher and Sandy Mohr, and both made contributions to MU’s eventual final set win.
Allie Barber had the kills to go with her usual great performance, totaling 13 on the day, but she had six errors and hit just .241. The 6’5” Big East Preseason Player of the Year is hitting just .287 for the year, well off of her .331 career mark coming into the season and her .356 tally that was second best in the conference a year ago. It’s obviously not a problem as MU is ranked in the top 10 for the first time in program history, but it’s something to keep an eye on as we continue the 2019 season.
Hope Werch had just five kills in the match, but she added two aces and a team high 13 digs for a quality all-around performance. Lauren Speckman had a match high 22 assists, while libero Martha Konovodoff had 12 digs and six assists.
Up Next: The homestand to open Big East play continues with back-to-back matches this weekend. Seton Hall will be in the McGuire Center for a 7pm start on Friday night, while St. John’s turns up on Saturday evening at 5pm. Both matches will be streamed for free on GoMarquette.com.