Can’t touch this

Those who read ESPN’s national columnist Bill Simmons will be familiar with the Ewing theory. For those unfamiliar with Simmons and his writing, the Ewing theory is the claim that when a team’s “superstar” player goes down, whether via trade or injury, there is a tendency for the team to be written off, yet somehow overachieve and become a better team.

Well, what happens when the injury isn’t season-ending and said “superstar” has a chance to rejoin the team? Perfection.

At least that has been the winning formula for the Marquette women’s volleyball team (17-7, 8-2 Big East) going undefeated in October and running off a 10-match winning streak since junior outside hitter Ashley Beyer returned from injury on Oct. 1.

“Early in the season we relied way too much on Beyer,” coach Bond Shymansky said. “She can carry us, but it’s just not right to be dependent on one player in a team sport.”

Coming into the weekend, Beyer received 121 more sets than her closest teammate, junior outside hitter Ciara Jones, even though Beyer had played two fewer matches than Jones.

“When she got injured, it really forced other players to step up,” Shymanksy said. “Now that she’s back in the lineup, we need her and love having her out there, but we don’t have to have her be perfect to win.”

Friday night’s match against West Virginia (14-12, 4-6 Big East) was a perfect example of this. Limited to a season-low four kills and -.053 hitting percentage, Beyer struggled to impact the game, yet Marquette breezed past the Mountaineers in straight sets 25-16, 25-20, 25-13.

Jones led the Golden Eagles with 12 kills, while senior middle hitter Rabbecka Gonyo continued her assault on the record books with nine kills in only 11 attempts for a whopping .727 hitting percentage. Sophomore middle hitter Danielle Carlson contributed with six kills, while freshman defensive specialist Julie Jeziorowski notched 10 digs and two service aces.

Marquette has transformed from being a good team with a dominating player to a great team with a plethora of attacking options.

“We have an even distribution from all of our hitters,” senior setter Nikki Klingsporn said of her team’s continuing success. “They all come up with some pretty big kills at big moments, and we just come together as a team and flow really well.”

Shymansky also said his lethal arsenal scares opponents.

“I think the beauty of having so many different attacking options is that it creates so many mental problems for the other side,” Shymansky said. “They just have no idea where the next ball is coming from. We want to keep it that way.”

After thoroughly outperforming Pittsburgh on Sunday in yet another three-set home sweep, Marquette looks to keep the momentum rolling as it heads into the final two weeks of conference play with a Big East conference title still in its sights.

“We don’t want to play with the team that’s on the other side,” Beyer said. “We want to play our game, play Marquette volleyball and just win like we did (Sunday). It feels so amazing to play so well as a team.”

The emotional high Marquette is riding is not lost on its coach.

“Our team is rabid,” Shymansky said. “We’re in a frenzy right now to go after it. We want every single point, and our team competes with that type of intensity.”

Simmons can keep his theory, and Marquette will simply keep on winning.