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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Volleyball faces winnable matches at Marquette Invitational

Photo by Valeria Cardenas/
Photo by Valeria Cardenas/[email protected]

The Marquette women’s volleyball team faces a busy and exciting weekend. The Golden Eagles return home for the first time this season with a flourish, hosting four matches in two days against James Madison, Rice, Green Bay and Texas-San Antonio.

Coach Ryan Theis is eager to play in front of the hometown fans for the first time as Marquette’s coach.

“We’re excited for the new floor,” Theis said. “I’m excited to hear the band. I’ve heard they’re a lot of fun.”

As much as Theis wants his team to have fun in its first weekend at home, he acknowledged the difficulty of playing a demanding four matches in two days, especially when each of Marquette’s opponents only have to play three.

“It is challenging,” Theis said. “The biggest issues are going to come in our last match of the tournament. That’s match four for us and match three for our opponents.”

As for the opponents, the Marquette Invitational provides a drop-off in competition from the nationally-ranked teams the Golden Eagles have played so far this fall.

Marquette opens the tournament against James Madison Friday morning at 11. The Dukes have opened the season 4-3 and lost to a mediocre Big East squad in Villanova in three straight sets. The Dukes went 13-15 in 2013. Sophomore right side hitter Janey Goodman could cause Marquette some problems, as she is averaging 4.17 kills per set this season and hitting at a .356 clip. Senior middle blocker Lizzy Briones brings good production and experience to the frontline.

The Golden Eagles will then take on Rice in primetime Friday night. The Owls are off to a 5-3 start, but went just 11-19 a season ago. Florida State transfer and redshirt sophomore outside hitter Leah Mikesky provides a nice dual threat for the Owls, averaging 3.32 kills and 2.81 digs per set.

Saturday at noon, Marquette plays a rivalry game of sorts against Green Bay. Former Marquette assistant coach Michaela Franklin led the Phoenix to a 14-14 campaign in 2013, but the reins have been given to new coach Sean Burdette. Under Burdette, Green Bay is off to a 1-5 start and did not win a single set in its home tournament two weeks ago. Junior setter Emily Riese contributes in many ways, averaging 1.82 kills, 8.32 assists and 2.64 digs per set.

Texas-San Antonio, Marquette’s final match of the tournament Saturday night, will provide the toughest test the Golden Eagles will see all weekend. The Roadrunners are coming off a year in which they went 24-8, won the regular season and tournament titles in Conference USA and went to the NCAA Tournament. They are off to a tougher start this year, going just 2-3 in five road matches. Senior middle hitter Dempsey Thornton leads the team in kills per set at 3.45, while junior outside hitter Jordan Kotara averages 2.23 kills and 3.59 digs per frame.

While the grind of four matches in two days could wear Marquette down, it should have no issue winning all four matches and possibly sweeping each opponent.

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