The Marquette women’s volleyball team prepares to open its Big East season after a challenging non-conference schedule that saw the Golden Eagles play the current No.1 team in the country, Stanford, as well as another top 15 team, Minnesota.
“We really put ourselves to an extreme test on the road in pre-conference,” coach Bond Shymansky said.
Senior setter Nikki Klingsporn added that the team gained confidence from not only playing against, but taking sets from some of the best teams in the nation.
“We can’t doubt ourselves,” she said. “We need to have confidence in ourselves and learn from our preseason games.”
While the competition may be less highly ranked in the Big East, as there are no teams currently ranked in the top 10, by no means does that mean things will get any easier for the 7-5 Golden Eagles.
The team will be tested early and often away from home, playing eight of its 14 conference games on the road. Shymansky said winning away matches will be crucial to the team’s success.
“We battled super tough with a lot of top quality teams, and I would say now we just need to find a way to get over the hump.” Shymansky said. “Winning on the road is what’s going to allow us to win the Big East. We can’t put excuses in front of us. We have to overcome that hurdle.”
Marquette will open this weekend at South Florida (4-7) Friday, a team it lost to in five sets at home last season. Then the team will travel to the nation’s capital to face Georgetown (10-6) Sunday. Marquette defeated Georgetown at home in front of a packed house before Marquette Madness last year, but this will be a completely different challenge. The Hoyas have won eight of their last nine matches and will have home court advantage on their side.
Making matters even tougher, junior outside hitter Ashley Beyer is questionable to play after suffering a shoulder injury in the Northwestern Invitational. Beyer leads the team in kills with 166 and was named to the Big East Honor Roll this week.
“Those are the kinds of things that are part of sports,” Shymansky said. “We just have to find a way to rally as a team and find ways to win points.”
For the six new freshmen on the team, this will be their first taste of what conference play is like.
“I’m real excited because I think our team is going to do extremely well in the Big East,” freshman defensive specialist Catherine Mayer said. “I’m looking forward to see all our hard work pay off.”