Marquette Wire

Blocking, serving lead the women’s volleyball team to victory

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After dropping the first two sets, the outlook for the women's volleyball team looked grim.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee out-blocked and outplayed Marquette 27-25 and 26-24, keeping the lead for both sets.

But during the third set, the Golden Eagles resurrected their game. Marquette won the last three sets in a huge comeback, going 25-11, 25-16 and 15-11.

"The first two games looked good, but not quite sharp," coach Pati Rolf said. "Then the cylinders kicked in there."

Sophomore blocker Rabbecka Gonyo led the turnaround in the third set, making 18 kills and six blocks total—each team highs.

Gonyo said she knew she had to step up after lagging the first two games.

"I needed to get up and I did. Caryn (Mastandrea) started setting me a lot and it showed—I got a lot of kills," Gonyo said. "They couldn't keep up with the fast offense. She was setting me and (Ashlee) Fisher and (Leslie) Bielski, it was all over the place."

Losing the first two sets is a problem that plagued the Golden Eagles in its 3-2 loss against Syracuse on Sunday.

"It's a very young team, and it's very strange what drives them," Rolf said.

Marquette struggled to take the lead in the first set against UWM, finally coming close at 13-13 with a kill by outside hitter Bielski.

UWM then went on a 3-0 run and continued to hold the lead until the teams tied at 21. In a close last few points, the teams tied again at 24 and 25 before the Panthers took the last two points, ending at 27-25.

The second set proved even more devastating for the Golden Eagles. The nearest the team came to the Panthers was at 21-20 on a kill by Gonyo. Like the first set, Marquette came close at 25-24 but failed to seal the deal.

Rolf said the team's blocking and outside hitting hurt the team during the first two sets.

"The reason we got murdered the first two games was because the two outside hitters were being stubborn," Rolf said. "Sometimes the kids don't want to do what they don't want to do. It's like listening to their mother."

The outside hitters, however, were listening. During the third set Fisher hit four kills and Gonyo five, recording a 0.522 hitting average to the Panthers' -0.152. The Golden Eagles also stepped up in blocks, with eight compared to the Panthers' zero.

Rolf said she attributes the change to her blockers.

"Once you get a block off, the other team starts to get a bit nervous about hitting," Rolf said. When the game changed, I credit it to our blockers. Katie (Vancura), Becca (Gonyo) and Tiara (Russell) really came around."

Fisher said the team stepped up the blocking and began serving to the right people, stopping UWM's Maddie Sueppel, who made 13 kills during the game.

"We just built up momentum and starting coming out stronger," Fisher said. "We got a lot of confidence blocking their balls and getting fired up."

Freshman outside hitter Alexandra Coello saw playing time in the third set, giving Fisher and Bielski a chance to rest and making two digs. Freshman outside hitter Ciara Jones, who just recovered from a foot injury, also regained some playing time in the third set.

The final two sets were landslides (25-16 and 15-11) as the Panthers could not keep up and made hitting errors.

"UWM is really scrappy and picked up a lot of junk and threw it over and then we threw it right back," Gonyo said. "The back row, I was just so proud of them today. We just can't give up in the middle of the match."

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