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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette Women’s Volleyball: Great partnership forms

Junior Danielle Carlson is 10th in Division I volleyball with a .412 hitting percentage. Photo by Aaron Ledesma/ [email protected]

The Utah Jazz had John Stockton to Karl Malone. The San Francisco 49ers had Joe Montana to Jerry Rice. And the Marquette women’s volleyball team has Chelsea Heier to Danielle Carlson.  Get used to the connection.

Marquette (13-4, 3-0 Big East) has used the success of its freshman setter, Heier, and junior middle hitter, Carlson, as a catalyst to a 3-0 start in the Big East season.

Coach Bond Shymansky said Heier — who leads the Big East in assists (747) — is, “a legitimate contender for Big East freshman of the Year.”

“Chelsea does a good job of getting us the sets we need,” Carlson said. “And (that) connection we established has gotten stronger in the last few weeks, but a lot of it just staying aggressive.”

Not to be outdone, Carlson has been named to two consecutive Big East honor rolls, in part for her .412 hitting percentage, good for 10th in Division I.

That growing connection is evident, as Carlson led the Golden Eagles with 13 kills in wins over Sacred Heart (13-5) and St. John’s (9-12, 0-4 Big East), while hitting .545 and .571, respectively in those matches.

Shymansky and the women take the confidence of an unbeaten road trip into this weekend but will also benefit from the valuable experience Heier received.

“It was fun,” Heier said of her first Big East road trip. “I’ve been looking forward to conference play and that experience, but definitely winning has a lot to do with it.”

In the program’s second victory ever at Connecticut’s Gampel Pavillion, Carlson used her success to open up offensive opportunities for senior outside hitters Ciara Jones and Ashley Beyer.

“We’ll watch teams send two blockers after Dani in the middle and leave a one-on-one for someone like Jones,” Shymansky said. “That’s a bad idea for them.”

This weekend the team faces two more Big East opponents at home when Georgetown (9-8, 1-3 Big East) and Villanova (12-5, 4-0 Big East) roll through the Al McGuire Center. The latter, which takes place Sunday afternoon, pits Marquette’s offensive attack that ranks second in the Big East in hitting percentage (.265) against Villanova’s tough defense.

The Wildcats lead the Big East in both opponent hitting percentage (.148) and digs per set (17.78).

However, Shymansky is confident that Carlson can still be effective against Villanova.

“Dani is so dynamic as a middle attacker — very fluid, sneaky and a high efficiency hitter,” he said.  “It’s not a surprise for us that she is atop the conference in hitting efficiency and is one of the best in the country.”

Winning has certainly come, but the team will continue to play with the same hunger as it always has. Shymanksy ensured that ego would not play a role against weaker opponents, such as Georgetown.  He characterized that game specifically as a “revenge match” after Georgetown defeated Marquette 3-2 (22-25, 26-24, 25-17, 11-15) in the team’s lone meeting in 2010.

“We want to win matches so badly we haven’t recognized that there is a target on our back,” Shymansky said.

But Marquette will be ready for Georgetown and Villanova this weekend.

“Having the success just boosts the team’s confidence,” Heier said.  “But we know what we need to do. No matter the opponent, we need to play Marquette volleyball.”

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