The Marquette women’s volleyball team got its Big East title hopes back on track last weekend with two road wins.
On Friday, Marquette won a close four-set match at Georgetown (26-24, 23-25, 31-29, 25-18) before sweeping away Villanova (25-13, 25-16, 25-23) on Sunday. The Golden Eagles improved to 20-4 overall and 10-1 in the Big East with the victories.
Senior middle hitter Danielle Carlson led the Marquette attack in both matches. She recorded 4.14 kills per set (hitting .519) and 1.43 blocks per set in the two matches on her way to being named Big East Player of the Week Monday.
“It was the physical advantage that I had,” Carlson said. “Especially with Georgetown; they’re a smaller team, and they don’t have really impressive blockers … but also, ‘Bisky’ (junior setter Elizabeth Koberstein) was giving me great sets, and I really appreciate that.”
Coach Bond Shymansky said Carlson, who improved her Big East-leading hitting percentage to .385 over the weekend, showed up when her team needed her the most.
“It’s exactly what you hope for as a coach that when you go on the road, that your captains are going to step up and have the best performance,” Shymansky said. “They’re the ones that are the most tried and true in those moments, and they have the most experience in those situations.”
Even with Carlson’s stellar performances, the team came out a bit flat against Georgetown and had to grind out some very close sets to win in four. Junior libero Julie Jeziorowski said that Marquette didn’t have a winning mentality before Friday’s match, as opposed to Sunday’s.
“Both teams were equally as good,” Jeziorowksi said. ”With Georgetown, we had a different mindset. Going into it, we thought we had it in the bag. We can’t take any team like that. Any team, at the bottom or the top, can take us into four sets.”
Shymansky echoed Jeziorowski and said Marquette’s play picked up noticeably on Sunday following the close Friday win.
“I thought we played OK against Georgetown,” he said. “At times we just looked kind of unmotivated and unfocused, a little bit undisciplined. We were really hungry and really sharp against Villanova.”
Even though Marquette claimed two more road victories, Villanova (5-6 in the Big East) and Georgetown (1-10) aren’t exactly the cream of the crop in the Big East. However, Shymansky stressed the importance of relatively low-caliber wins.
“It’s about keeping pace and staying at the top of the league,” Shymansky said. “We need to be able to win on the road against Georgetown and Villanova so that we can protect our conference standings and protect our RPI.”
Marquette’s next task will be a rematch with crosstown rival Wisconsin-Milwaukee tonight. Carlson is excited to get one more shot at the Panthers before she graduates.
“It’s always fun to play them,” he said. “I know a lot of the girls, I’ve played a lot of the girls, and I’ve played with the girls in my past. It means a lot to say we’re the best team in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, and that’s always sort of up for grabs when we play them.”
Even though Milwaukee is Marquette’s clear in-state rival, taking such a quick break from Big East play could cause focus issues for the team. Shymansky isn’t worried about that.
“Our team never overlooks UW-Milwaukee because they’re the hometown rival,” he said. “It doesn’t take a lot of extra motivation to get our team zeroed in on wanting to compete and beat UW-Milwaukee.”
Having just played two East Coast road games in five days and already beaten Milwaukee in 2012, Marquette might see Tuesday night’s game as a bit of a rest match. Shymansky said his team cannot let that happen if it wants to win.
“We cannot allow that to get into the lexicon of our team psyche,” he said. “We’re going to go over there and give everything we have to beat them.”