Volleyball clinches Big East tournament spot


Junior libero Lauren Houg will look to hold down the back line for the new-look Golden Eagles in 2015. (Photo: Valeria Cardenas)

The Marquette women’s volleyball team won its sixth straight match on Saturday and clinched a spot in the Big East Tournament for the fifth consecutive season as the Golden Eagles (22-6, 12-3) swept the Providence Friars in three sets, 25-16, 25-19, 25-18.

Marquette head coach Ryan Theis saw some room for improvement, but was happy to come away with a victory.

“There were some challenging aspects; timing was off both offensively and defensively,” Theis said. “But I’m happy to walk away with a win and the biggest thing right now is how Teal’s ankle is.”

Marquette sophomore Teal Schnurr went down with an ankle injury late in the second set and did not return to action. Sophomore Autumn Bailey led the team in kills with 15 and had 20 digs. Sophomore Nele Barber had a nice game with 11 kills and redshirt sophomore Meghan Niemann added six kills to go along with her six blocks. Providence was led by sophomore Kayla Johnson, who had nine kills. The Golden Eagles had just a .235 hitting percentage, but it was enough on Saturday, as the Friars hit a dismal .053 for the match and had 25 errors to Marquette’s 14.

The first set was back and forth early on and featured leads by both teams. Providence took a 6-5 lead in the set, but Marquette fired back with a 12-4 run to take a 17-10 advantage, which was aided by seven Friar attack errors that forced them to take a timeout. The stoppage did nothing to slow down the Golden Eagle onslaught as they went on to score eight of the next 14 points and won the game, 25-16.

Bailey and Barber led the team with five kills. Sophomore Lauren Houg led the team in digs in the set with nine and redshirt sophomore Meghan Niemann and junior Erin Lehman each had two blocks. The Golden Eagles hit just .200 for the frame, but Providence hit a dismal -.062 with 11 errors.

Like the first, the second set was back and forth early. The Golden Eagles took an early 4-1 lead and looked to cruise to an easy victory, but Providence came back and took a 9-8 lead. Again, Marquette refused to let the Friars to get hot, as the Golden Eagles responded with a 7-2 run to grab the lead, 15-11. The Golden Eagles had a 18-14 advantage when sophomore Teal Schnurr went down with an ankle injury and had to be helped off the court. After the stoppage, Marquette scored two quick points to get the crowd back into the game and ended the game shortly after, winning, 25-18.

Bailey had five kills in the set, including the game-winner and added nine digs to her total. Redshirt junior Courtney Kintzel and Barber each had four kills and Barber added two blocks. After the match, Theis confirmed that Schnurr’s injury was to her ankle, but had no further information at the time other than there seemed to be minimal swelling.

As was the trend in the first two sets, the third and final game was close at the start before the Golden Eagles broke away to earn a 25-18 win. Providence got out to a 7-5 lead, but Marquette refused to go away. The Golden Eagles responded by scoring nine of the next ten points to establish a 14-8 lead. The Friars never got closer than four points behind Marquette as the Golden Eagles closed out the game and the match.

Bailey had five kills for the third consecutive set, but the story of the frame was Niemann. The redshirt sophomore Jackson, Wisconsin native had four blocks to go along with her four kills in the set.

The Golden Eagles will play Seton Hall in South Orange, N.J. on Friday, Nov. 11 at 6 p.m.