The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Women’s club volleyball continues dynasty

The 2010-2011 women's club volleyball team won six of the nine tournaments it played in. Photo courtesy of Molly Aikins.

In its 15th consecutive trip to the National College Volleyball Federation Championships, the Marquette club women’s volleyball team was the national runner-up to California Polytechnic State 25-20, 25-21 on April 9.

During that 15-year stretch, the Golden Eagles never finished worse than 12th and had nine top-five finishes, including the 2008 season when they were the national champions.

That 15-year postseason streak tops that of any NCAA-Division I team on campus. Among sanctioned teams, men’s basketball owns the longest current streak at six consecutive appearances.

Senior right side hitter Molly Aikins, a 2010 All-American and the club’s president, attributed the program’s success to its coach, Anne Pufahl, and the passion of the players in the program.

“She’s the most dedicated coach,” Aikins said of Pufahl.  “She’s always there pushing us to be better at every practice and never settling for where we are. She always drives us to get better.”

The 2011 second place finish followed up a 2010 season where Marquette finished fifth at nationals and featured a team that, according to Pufahl, returned the core necessary to succeed in 2011. It just needed a setter, which it found in first-year graduate student Stephanie Ryding.

“She was key,” Pufahl said of Ryding. “We had all the pieces. We were just looking for that setter, that quarterback on the team to come in and lead the team and keep us together.”

In the fall season, Marquette won two of the four tournaments it participated in and finished second in the two it didn’t. In the spring season, it won four of its five tournaments except nationals.

“We had so many offensive threats that teams couldn’t keep up with us,” Aikins said. “Every single person on the court contributed. It wasn’t like we had just one all-star player.”

When it came time for the national championship, those offensive threats weren’t enough to knock off Cal Poly.  The Mustangs were the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, while Marquette was No. 2.

Cal Poly was the national champion last year and had experience with the national championship game environment that the Golden Eagles could not match.

“They’ve never played in front of over 3,000 fans on top of you screaming,” Pufahl said of her players. “It’s an incredible atmosphere … all the teams that aren’t playing are there screaming. It’s something you can’t train for in the regular season.”

The difference in the match was the number of errors committed.

“Cal Poly made no errors at all the whole match and they played really well,” Aikins said. “We played well, but we made more errors than them so it was hard to catch up in points. It was a really competitive match, though, and if we had just cut down on our errors we could have been right in it with them.”

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