Volleyball must defeat Irish to control own fate

A defeat of the Irish isn’t the only route to the postseason, but it would put Danielle Carlson (8) and the Golden Eagles in control of their own destiny.
A defeat of the Irish isn’t the only route to the postseason, but it would put Danielle Carlson (8) and the Golden Eagles in control of their own destiny.

For the women’s volleyball team, it’s time to go big or go home.

The team has three matches remaining to clinch a berth in the Big East tournament — all of them at home — and coach Bond Shymansky said the team has to capitalize on the opportunity.

Sitting in a tie for 10th place with a 4-7 record in the Big East, Marquette (15-11) still controls its own destiny if it wins out. This will be no easy task for the Golden Eagles, as they have to play two teams ahead of them in the standings.

“If we win out we’re going to be in business and we ought to find a way in,” Shymansky said.

Conference leader Notre Dame (16-4, 10-0 Big East) will come to the Al McGuire Center this Friday riding a 10-match winning streak and having already clinched a spot in the tournament.

“We thought we played great in our last home match against the No. 2 team in the league in Syracuse,” Shymansky said. “Now we have to do it against the No. 1 team in the league.”

The Fighting Irish boast a very balanced attack, featuring four players with at least 145 kills each. Two of those, senior Serinity Phillips and sophomore Kristen Dealy, have over 200 kills, while senior Christina Kaelin is only four kills away from the 200 mark.

“Bond always talks about it as ‘don’t let the jersey monster get you,’ ” senior Hailey Viola said. “We just can’t overlook them, and we have to come out as fired up as we’re going to be against Notre Dame.”

Marquette freshman Danielle Carlson said the team does not fear the Irish and their impressive statistics.

“We understand we need to play well,” Carlson said. “We know the opportunities that we have, and we want to be fearless going into it.”

Notre Dame will be heavily favored in this match. The Irish lead the Big East in kills and hitting percentage and will be tough to stop defensively.

“We have something to prove. We have that chip on our shoulder,” Shymansky said. “You know we understand we’re the underdogs in our own gym, so we’re not fearful and we’re really excited for Friday’s match.”

A loss to the Irish still wouldn’t eliminate Marquette from playoff contention. It would, however, force the Golden Eagles to win their final two matches and leave them at the mercy of other results from around the conference.

“If we win two of the last three there’s a bunch of different scenarios that can work our way,” Shymansky said. “We’re still mathematically alive in three different ways and with four other teams.”

Those four teams are Seton Hall, Connecticut, Villanova and West Virgina. Marquette would have to leap over two of those teams to grab the eighth and final spot.

Before any mathematical speculating can be done, Marquette will have to take care of business against Depaul this Sunday.

The Blue Demons have yet to tally a win in conference, sitting with a lowly 0-10 Big East record. Marquette is the heavy favorite and a loss to the bottom feeders would be an embarrassing way to miss out on the tournament.