Final road matches to test volleyball

The Bearcats and their 23-match home win streak don’t scare Rabbecka Gonyo (11) and a team desperately looking to string together some wins.
The Bearcats and their 23-match home win streak don’t scare Rabbecka Gonyo (11) and a team desperately looking to string together some wins.

Playing away from home is never easy. The Marquette women’s volleyball team can attest to that.

The Golden Eagles are only 1-3 on the road in Big East play, but they will attempt to even those numbers out this weekend as they travel to Cincinnati and Louisville for their last road trip of the season.

Marquette will face a daunting task playing the Bearcats (17-8, 7-1 Big East) and the Cardinals (12-9, 5-3 Big East), especially away from home. Cincinnati is riding a 23 match winning streak at home, not having lost since 2007 at Fifth Third Arena. Louisville, however, has struggled lately, going 5-5 at home this season. But the match against Marquette will only be its fourth Big East home game of the year.

“I don’t think it really matters. What we want them to do is lose one match this Friday. It doesn’t matter if they’ve lost 23 straight at home or won 23 straight at home,” coach Bond Shymansky said. “It’s indicative of their capabilities and their ability as a team, but I don’t find their home court advantage any different than anybody else’s. Playing on the road is tough. We are going to have to play well to beat them.”

Marquette will have to play really well to beat the Bearcats. Apart from the home winning streak, Cincinnati is riding a five-match winning streak overall. Its only loss in the Big East came at the hands of an 8-0 Notre Dame squad.

The key to stopping the Bearcats will be stopping junior Stephanie Niemer, who leads the conference in kills with 394 and is second in kills per game, averaging 4.28.

“Every team has their go-to hitters, and we just need to shut them down,” junior Rabbecka Gonyo said. “We need to come out playing hard.”

Gonyo noted that shutting down the main player forces more inexperienced players to step up, and makes the other team easier to beat.

This will be the second-straight time Marquette faces a one loss team that is second in the Big East. Last Saturday, Marquette handed Syracuse its second defeat and will look to do it again this weekend in Ohio.

“Cincinnati is a very similar team to Syracuse. They’ve been in a lot of tough battles this season just like we have,” Shymansky said. “I think they’re good. They were co-champions last year for a reason and we’ll see what we get when we get there.”

The Golden Eagles will then take on Louisville Sunday. The Cardinals sit two places in front of Marquette in the Big East standings, making this match very close to a must-win game.

“Louisville is also a very tough team — they are a perennial powerhouse within the league,” Shymansky said. “That one day break in between both matches will be important for us to get refocused and ready. We have to make sure that we start winning on the road and this is the last chance to do it before the Big East tournament.”

With only five matches remaining in conference play, every game from here on out will be important.

“We know what we can do now,” sophomore Ashley Beyer said, “and I think other teams realize that we really are something.”