End of the road for Klingsporn, Gonyo

It’s over. No more grueling practices. No more pre-game jitters. No more crushing defeats. Most importantly, though, no more glory.

The end of a season is tough for any player. Having given blood, sweat and tears day after day for months at a time, it seems cruel to have it all end with one shrill whistle.

For two members of the Marquette women’s volleyball team, seniors Rabbecka Gonyo and Nikki Klingsporn, that half-second whistle marked not simply the end of another season, but the end of illustrious careers.

Together they helped power the Golden Eagles to one of their best seasons in school history. Marquette (23-9, 11-3 Big East) recorded the most-ever wins (23), won a record number of Big East games (11), finished third in the Big East and won 14 consecutive games.

“We’ve recognized in the building process that it’s gone from bad to pretty good, to really good this year,” coach Bond Shymansky said. “There’s some tough lumps in there, and there are some tough days — it’s tough to not make the NCAA Tournament and to have the Big East regular season title decided on your home floor — but to think about how far we’ve come in such a short period of time and even have those moments is special.”

The Golden Eagles did most of their damage boasting a quick, high powered offense. Marquette was 12th in the country with a .288 hitting percentage, which was also best in the Big East. The 14.12 kills per set it averaged also ranked 27th best in the NCAA and second best in the conference.

Its two senior captains played pivotal roles in the Golden Eagle attack, earning national rankings and post-season accolades. Gonyo was the second most efficient hitter in the country, finishing the season with a phenomenal .429 hitting percentage and setting a new single season record at Marquette.

That, along with Gonyo’s 325 kills and 110 blocks, garnered her a spot on the All-Big East First Team.

Not to be outdone, Klingsporn lived up to preseason expectations and was also a selection to the all-conference first team. She finished fourth in the nation in assists per set (12.1) and led the Big East in the process.

“It’s a great honor,” Klingsporn  said, “but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. If I don’t have the passers to get me the ball or hitters to get the kills that stat doesn’t look so good.”

The 1,391 total assists were the fourth most ever recorded in a season by a Marquette player, and her 2,626 career assists —in two years nonetheless— place her fourth on the all-time career list.

It would be foolish to credit the seniors with all the success this season though. Junior outside hitters Ashley Beyer and Ciara Jones led Marquette in kills, sophomore right side hitter Danielle Carlson morphed into a valuable weapon by the year’s end, and freshman libero Julie Jeziorowski cleaned up in the back recording 408 digs, good for eighth on Marquette’s single season list.

Beyer was also named to the All-Big East First Team and finished second in the conference in kills per set (3.87) and points scored (471). Her 414 kills recorded were the tenth most ever in one season.

“I know that next year I’m going to have to be more of a leader now that we don’t have Nikki (Klingsporn) and Becka (Gonyo),” Beyer said. “Ciara (Jones) and I are going to have to step it up.”

Jones led the Golden Eagles in kills nine times this season, finishing with 379 for the year. She was named to the Big East Honor Roll twice this season and finished tenth in the conference in kills per set (3.3).

“I think we did a great job this season,” Jones said. “It’s definitely a huge turnaround from last season and the year before. I’m really proud of everyone who contributed and real excited about where we’re going.”