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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 national dominance

The Marquette women’s volleyball club team’s path to a second straight national title was far more arduous than the last time around, but what matters to them is that the job was done.

Marquette defeated Ohio State April 5 in Reno, Nev., to close out its 37-2 championship season. Junior Jenny Ciriacks was named the tournament MVP. It is the team’s third title in the last seven years, and it has now finished in the top-three in the country 10 times in coach Anne Pufahl’s 17 years as coach.

It was the most rewarding experience I’d ever felt,” Pufahl said. “The last time we won, we kind of dominated, and the time before that the same thing. This was every point mattered. Every play was important. It was just exhausting. You were emotionally drained.”

Marquette took the match in three sets, 15-25, 25-14, 16-14. Ohio State pounced on Marquette early, but Pufahl’s group stayed composed and ended a long final day on the highest note possible.

“I think when the opportunity arises where it’s do or die, that’s when we excelled, and I think it really showed the heart in our team,” said Meredith Vertin, junior setter and Second Team All-American.

After handily defeating Ball State earlier that day, Marquette was matched up with California – Davis in the quarterfinals. Marquette dropped the first game but rebounded to take the final two. Pufahl was taken aback by UC-Davis’ tenacious play.

“California teams are tough, and this team wouldn’t let a ball hit the floor, so they kind of shocked us,” Pufahl said. “We were pounding balls and they were touching every ball and getting it back, and we weren’t used to that.”

Marquette staved off Grand Valley State in the semifinals 25-15, 25-19. Ciriacks was aware Marquette had a target on its back going into the tournament and that it would be an uphill battle.

It’s definitely a lot of pressure, but we’re kind of used to it at this point,” Ciriacks said. “It gives us a reality check. We can’t just go in assuming to beat every team. Every team is going to give us their best match, and that’s what we have to do for them, too.”

Pufahl remembered once she saw a team’s Internet biography page that called defeating Marquette its season highlight. At that moment, she really knew how highly her team was viewed.

“If a team takes a game off us, it’s like it’s their national championship,” Pufahl said. “(We’re) used to it. We train for it. I tell them that if I call a timeout, that team thinks they’ve scored a victory.”

Most of this year’s team will return in the fall. Vertin and Ciriacks will be the team’s presidents. Before thinking about a three-peat, they’re soaking in this memorable season for now.

“It would be unbelievable, almost unfathomable,” Vertin said on earning another national championship. “You don’t want to get too ahead of yourself. A lot of the returners coming back are solid. I think it’s going to be really great for us, but there will also be new spots available for freshmen or other players.”

Since club sports are not NCAA affiliates, there is no recruiting process. Players participate in tryouts each year, and Marquette has had the luxury of picking from a wide array of talent.

“What I’m proud of is the kids buy into it,” Pufahl said. “We practice only twice a week, but we practice harder than any team I know, and that’s because we expect to win. It’s not acceptable not to win.”


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