Bond Squad Blocks Back Attacks

Photo by Andrei Greska / Andrei.Greska@marquette.edu

Freshman defensive specialist Julie Jeziorowski launched a wicked float serve that danced up and down as it passed over the net. The Connecticut defender had trouble adjusting to the flight pattern and ended up feebly passing it to the setter. The Huskies’ setter managed to set up her right side hitter, who was promptly stoned by junior outside hitter Ciara Jones.

Point Marquette.

Blocking is a key component of volleyball, and one that does more than get the crowd at the Al McGuire Center, thirsty for the incoming t-shirts that accompany Marquette blocks, all riled up.

Getting a hand on a hit right at the net disrupts the offensive rhythm. It makes hitters wary of hitting straight ahead and instead forces them to tip around the block.

“(Blocking) helps a lot,” said freshman defensive specialist Rachel Stier. “Once they set up a block, we just work around them and dig more balls.”

It is no coincidence that in the only set Marquette (11-7, 3-2 Big East) lost this weekend, its opponent, Connecticut, recorded four blocks, half the amount the Huskies tallied for the match. In that set, Marquette recorded a negative hitting percentage, -.200, committing 10 errors in 30 attempts.

On the other hand, the Golden Eagles were very successful in establishing a blocking game of their own, making life difficult for St. John’s (13-9, 0-5 Big East) and Connecticut (2-14, 0-5 Big East) en route to two Big East home victories.

“We’ve been working a lot on blocking, and it’s starting to show, and that’s nice,” said coach Bond Shymansky. “As a coach, you like to feel you’re getting value out of spending time.”

Marquette is benefitting from its added emphasis on blocking. As a team, it tallied 22 team blocks this weekend, averaging 3.14 per set. Senior Rabbecka Gonyo led Marquette with 11 block assists.

In the previous 16 games, the Golden Eagles only blocked 106 hits, averaging 1.89 per set.

“Left sides and everybody work on blocking for the first half hour of practice,” Jones said. “That’s something that we’ve been focusing on and working hard to do.”

The improvement in the blocking department was a main contributor to the Golden Eagles’ undefeated weekend at home, which is a vital step in their search for a postseason berth.

“Winning Big East matches at home is enormous for us because we only have six of them,” Shymansky said. “We’re a third of the way through our home slate in Big East play. We’re 2-0, that’s great.”

He also noted the importance of getting on the positive side of the .500 mark in conference play.

“It keeps us within striking distance to win the regular season championship, as well as put us in a good position, seeding wise, for the Big East tournament.”

Jones added that the difficult practices during the week helped them prepare for success.

“I think we did a good job of coming out strong at our home opener and just doing what we’re supposed to,” Jones said.

Jones finished the weekend with a team-leading 23 kills, managing to hit over .300 in both matches. Her performance earned her a spot on the Big East Honor Roll for the week.

Marquette will take a midweek road trip to Wisconsin-Green Bay for a non-conference tilt with the in-state rival. Its next Big East game is Saturday at Syracuse.

With the straight-set victory over St. John’s Friday night, coach Bond Shymansky reached 200 victories for his career. He is currently 29-19 with Marquette since taking over after the 2008 season.