Marquette Women’s Volleyball: Seniors have taken different paths to success

Senior outside hitters Ashley Beyer and Ciara Jones took two different paths to get to Marquette, use two different styles of play in their attack and lead the Golden Eagles in different ways on the court. But for Marquette’s premiere attackers, there is one striking similarity both can relish: the milestone of 1,000 kills.

October saw Beyer and Jones become the 10th and 11th players in the program’s history to accomplish the feat, but both took different paths to reach the milestone.

A foot injury caused Jones to miss 14 games her freshman year, limiting her to just 73 kills, and Beyer missed out on a full year before transferring from Kishwaukee Junior College in Illinois. Both admitted milestones and career goals never entered their mind early in their careers, but 1,000 kills seemed to be a stretch after 2008.

As the Golden Eagles continued to improve, so did Beyer and Jones. In their sophomore years, Jones continued her progression with 236 kills while Beyer, playing for the first time in a Marquette uniform, racked up 381 kills.

2010 was a major turning point for both players in their quest for 1,000 kills, with Jones improving her hit percentage by 6 percent and racking up 379 kills. Beyer was just as good, leading the Golden Eagles with 414 kills and being named to the All-Big East first team.

“I really just focused on the little things,” Jones said. “My hitting wasn’t going to go anywhere, so I needed to learn how to do all these other things, and I think I became really consistent after my sophomore year, just a year of learning. And junior year was time to go.”

Beyer admitted she was much more comfortable in Marquette’s offense last season, which yielded more kills and more wins.

“I felt a lot more comfortable with the team,” Beyer said. “And in your second year, you get to know everyone a lot better. Last year, everything was put together really well, and we were playing really well.”

Each has been instrumental in the success of the other. Beyer has helped the powerful-hitting Jones with her shot placement, with Jones helping Beyer stay focused and regaining energy on the court after tough stretches.

“They each help each other in different ways,” coach Bond Shymansky said. “They’re not afraid to keep each other in check, and accountability is really big part of being successful. They’re never afraid to say what needs to be said to each other.”

While both push each other in practice and during games, neither said there was any sort of competitive attitude against the other. Rather, the two have used their unique skill sets to complement each other at different times in matches, ultimately leading to more kills for both.

Different styles of play have made Jones and Beyer unique outside hitters, but they now share a milestone and a mentality that has led Marquette to an 8-0 conference record and a first place spot in the Big East.

“They’d trade every kill for a win,” Shymansky said, “and they know that every kill from here on out is incredibly valuable to our program.”