Marquette Women’s Volleyball: Tournament MVP Koberstein keys three Marquette sweeps at Xavier Invitational

The Marquette women’s volleyball team won three matches this past weekend as it claimed the Xavier Invitational in Cincinnati and improved to 4-1 on the season.

The Golden Eagles defeated Ole Miss (25-21, 25-21, 27-25) and Tennessee Tech (25-14, 25-19, 25-13) on Friday in straight sets before sweeping away host Xavier (26-24, 25-21, 27-25) in Saturday’s finale.

“Any sweep is a good sweep,” said head coach Bond Shymansky. “To get three matches with a 3-0 sweep was a really good weekend for us, especially doing it on the road.”

The team bounced back after dropping a tightly contested match to Northwestern in the deciding match of the Marquette Challenge on Aug. 26. Shymansky thinks that the wins at Xavier are all a part of the bigger plan.

“I don’t really look at it as a bounce back as much as a continuance of our evolution,” Shymansky said. “We knew opening weekend we were going to have things to work on, so then those things got exposed and we worked on them all week.”

Junior setter Elizabeth Koberstein was the key for the Golden Eagles. The tournament MVP had 101 kills in the three wins, including seven kills in the tournament opener versus Ole Miss.

“Koberstein’s weekend was good,” Shymansky said. “For her it is about understanding the rhythm and the speed and the system and especially in the transition game for us. Where I really thought she was fantastic this weekend was when she was setting our slide hitters.”

Shymansky also loved the way Koberstein attacked, especially against Ole Miss.

“That’s huge for us; that has been something we’ve been lacking in our offense,” Shymansky said. “A setter can be very offensive. It just puts the other middle in such a guessing situation all the time and (Koberstein) is long enough and rangy enough that she plays really high above the tape.”

Koberstein views her good play as a piece of the team’s overall success.

“My sets are a representation of how the team’s doing,” she said. “We just did a good job of sticking to the game plan and not freaking out when things weren’t going well and my play is a reflection of everyone else’s good play as well.”

Its play in closely contested sets plagued Marquette against Northwestern but pushed the team forward this weekend. The team won three sets that went past 25 points, including two in the sweep of Xavier.

“I think what I was most pleased with in all three matches was that we were really composed and really confident when the sets got tight at the end,” Shymansky said. “Having that situation arise many times against Xavier and Ole Miss is a good sign for us moving forward.”

Shymansky also felt the communication issues that held the team back on opening weekend improved at Xavier.

“It’s gotten a little bit better,” he said. “You have to communicate a little differently when you’re playing in someone else’s gym. I think all of that stuff is just a work in progress for us, and it will get better as the season goes on.”

Perhaps some of the improvements can be credited to sophomore outside hitter Lindsey Gosh and her budding consistency on both the back and front lines. Gosh, who played sparingly as a freshman, had 26 kills and 22 digs in the three sweeps on her way to landing on the All-Tournament Team along with Koberstein and senior middle hitter Dani Carlson.

“Knowing that the seniors left, I felt that I had to fulfill their position and (the) legacy that they left behind,” Gosh said. “I knew that I had to step up and become a dominating force on the outside.”

Shymansky said the issues will work themselves out and the key for his team will be to keep improving how they work together.

“You have to be really assertive with it,” Shymansky said. “It’s kind of like mental telepathy when you play around teammates long enough. You start trusting in what they can do and understanding where their range is and where their limitations are.”