The 2012 season came to an end for the Marquette volleyball team on Friday as it fell to Creighton in the first round of the NCAA tournament in a game played in Minneapolis.
The Bluejays swept the Golden Eagles, 25-22, 25-23, 28-26, for Marquette’s second three-set loss of the year. Even though it didn’t win a set, senior middle hitter Kelsey Mattai said she felt the team battled and gave it a solid effort.
“I think our team put up a good fight,” Mattai said. “Creighton was a great team. It was a team effort; we all played together. It just wasn’t our best volleyball.”
The players gave it all they had, with seniors Dani Carlson and Holly Mertens each tallying 13 kills in their final matches for Marquette. But the match turned on what Creighton did more than Marquette.
“They did things that we didn’t know they could actually do,” Mertens said. “We looked at their past seven matches, and they were doing things that we thought we could stop. When they came to our game, they switched it up. That’s very important because that’s something we didn’t capitalize on.”
Coach Bond Shymansky said he felt while Marquette did see most of Creighton’s tactics on video, it’s not always easy to implement game plans without first competing against the opposition.
“They play a different style of game,” Shymansky said. “We were prepared to see some of the things that we had seen, but we had only watched it on video and we hadn’t played against teams that actually did it. Seeing something on film and actually competing against it are two different things.”
Creighton succeeded by showing Marquette a lot of different looks. Setter Megan Bober could set or attack every time she received a pass, and middle hitter Kelli Browning hit .600 for the Bluejays.
“We just didn’t play very well,” Shymansky said. “Part of that’s to Creighton’s credit, but part of that’s to our problem. We just needed to find a way to play a little bit sharper. We came out a little bit flat, and they made us pay.”
Shymansky said he did feel that Marquette succeeded in its area of greatest strength: its slide-hitting through its senior attackers.
“I thought our slide attackers were really good against them,” Shymansky said. “They were a strong source of points for us. Holly (Mertens), Dani (Carlson) and Kelsey (Mattai) combined were very high-efficiency and were super terminal as slide hitters.”
Mertens said it took her a little while to get over the disappointment of the loss and her career ending. But once the disappointment died down, she realized how great the 2012 season was.
“It took me the night after the game to get over the fact that I was done and would never play for Marquette volleyball again,” Mertens said. “You can’t change what happens. To be a part of the program this year … it overlooks the fact that we lost in the first round. I couldn’t ask for more out of my senior season.”
She went on to say that she had no regrets about Marquette’s final effort in 2012.
“No matter which way we look at it, we made it to the NCAA’s back-to-back years,” Mertens said. “We were playing the No. 21-ranked team in the nation, which was a feat that wasn’t going to be handed to us. Even though we lost and the matches were close, we have nothing to regret.”