The Marquette women’s volleyball team powered its way to first place in the Big East with a trio of home sweeps over the weekend.
The Golden Eagles defeated Creighton 25-22, 25-18, 25-13 Friday, Villanova 25-23, 25-21, 27-25 Saturday and Georgetown 25-14, 25-18, 29-27 Sunday at the Al McGuire Center.
“This was a great weekend for us,” coach Bond Shymansky said. “With first place at stake in the conference, there was so much opportunity that existed for us on Friday night. We took care of that opportunity in a huge way. The confidence of our team and the preparation was fantastic. And then for us to back it up on Saturday and Sunday, that was the hardest part.”
Friday, Marquette notched its biggest win of the 2013 season, sweeping archrival Creighton in convincing fashion. The win came just 12 days after the Blue Jays embarrassed the Golden Eagles in Omaha, Neb., and less than a year after they knocked Marquette out of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Shymansky said the budding rivalry with another Big East contender made the victory all the sweeter.
“Creighton has become a nemesis for us, which is actually fun,” Shymansky said. “We want to have that feeling.”
Freshman outside hitters Autumn Bailey and Nele Barber led the Golden Eagles with 13 and 12 kills, respectively, while freshman middle hitter Teal Schnurr added a career-high seven. Both captains also chipped in solid numbers, with senior setter Elizabeth Koberstein tallying 36 assists and Julie Jeziorowski racking up 18 digs.
“We prepared all week for Creighton,” Koberstein said. “To come out and really execute our game plan, we had such good focused energy. That just set the tone for the whole weekend.”
The Golden Eagles experienced a bit of an emotional hangover Saturday, and battled to sweep Villanova. They didn’t win any set by more than four points.
“I would say it was kind of a mental hangover,” Koberstein said. “We were ready to play again, but we weren’t focused on the things we needed to be doing. Our blocking wasn’t very good, I don’t think we passed very well and I don’t think we served very tough.”
Bailey led the Marquette offense again with an impressive double-double (12 kills, 15 digs). Redshirt freshman middle hitter Meghan Niemann delivered 11 kills in support and Koberstein had another 36-assist evening.
Marquette clinched its fourth consecutive sweep Sunday in a brutal third set against Georgetown. After falling behind 24-21, the Golden Eagles fought off set point after set point before finally prevailing 29-27. Bailey had her best performance of the weekend with 18 kills and her third straight double-double. She closed the three-game stretch with 41 kills, and was named Big East freshman of the week Monday.
“Autumn has been very terminal,” Shymansky said. “She has been a really steady player for us for the most part. She’s been leading us to big kills and her jump serve has been phenomenal.”
Shymansky expects such impressive games from his star freshman, who averages 4.07 kills per set, good for second place in the Big East.
“Pretty soon we’ll start saying she’s doing a great job for a freshman, because pretty much she’s just doing a great job,” Shymansky said.
Now atop the conference, Marquette has no time to sit on its laurels. The Golden Eagles embark on their most difficult road trip of the season next week as they take on Butler Friday and Xavier Saturday. Shymansky said he knows Marquette’s opponents will be gunning for the top spot.
“Xavier and Butler are new in our league and they are about to also become our nemeses,” he said. “They are both doing a really good job, and I know they are going to be licking their chops for us to come in there this weekend.”