Volleyball sweeps weekend, clinches Big East Tournament spot

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Volleyball sweeps weekend, clinches Big East Tournament spot

Photo by Maggie Bean/Marquette Athletics

Photo by Maggie Bean/Marquette Athletics

Photo by Maggie Bean/Marquette Athletics

Photo by Maggie Bean/Marquette Athletics

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The Marquette women’s volleyball team earned a spot in the Big East tournament for the fifth consecutive season Saturday with a sweep of Providence and a four-game victory against St. John’s Friday. Marquette (22-6, 12-3) is currently on a six-game winning streak and has won 18 of their last 19 sets. The team now sits alone in second place, just a half-game in front of Seton Hall and one-and-a-half games behind conference-leading Creighton.

Marquette sophomores Autumn Bailey and Lauren Houg earned Big East honors as the Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week. Bailey led the team in kills in both weekend matches, including an impressive 27-kill performance against St. John’s Friday.

After the match, Marquette coach Ryan Theis admitted that Bailey put the team on her shoulders and had a major role in the victory. She won conference Offensive Player of the Week twice before and sits atop the conference in points, kills and service aces and ranks 15th nationally in points per set (5.33) and kills per set (4.57).

Houg’s award was the first Big East honor of her career, as well as the first time a Marquette player has been named the Defensive Player of the Week this season. She posted 28 digs against St. John’s, the second-most in her career, and added 20 more against Providence for a phenomenal 6.86 digs per set ratio during the weekend.

The Golden Eagles got more of a fight than they expected from St. John’s (18-11, 7-7) Friday night, but eventually took the match in four sets, 25-19, 25-21, 24-26, 26-24. Marquette allowed the Red Storm to hang around and get back into the match with the loss in the third set. The momentum appeared to be shifting in St. John’s favor, but thanks to 11 kills from Bailey in the fourth set, the Golden Eagles captured the set and the match.

Marquette had 28 attack errors against St. John’s, its second-most on the season, and hit just .211 as a team. But double-digit kills from Bailey (27), redshirt sophomore Meghan Niemann (11) and junior Erin Lehman (10) helped seal the match for the Golden Eagles. Defensively, the blue and gold were solid, holding the Red Storm to a .190 team hitting percentage and out-dug St. John’s thanks to a 28-dig performance from Houg. The match also featured the return of redshirt junior Courtney Kintzel, who had not played since posting four kills in the Sept. 19 victory against then No. 7 Florida.

Saturday’s match against Providence (9-18, 1-13) was less complicated for the Golden Eagles, as they took the series in a three game sweep and claimed a spot in the Big East tournament, 25-16, 25-19, 25-18. Marquette allowed early Providence leads in each of the three sets, but the Golden Eagles would eventually regain composure. The Friars’ latest lead in any game came at 11-10 in the second set before Marquette ripped off five straight points and never looked back. But the victory came with a price, as sophomore Teal Schnurr went down with an ankle injury in the second set and had to be helped off the court. Schnurr did not return to action and after the match Theis called her injury the team’s biggest concern at the moment, but did not have any further information on her status.

Bailey had another excellent performance for Marquette with 15 kills and 20 digs in the match and sophomore Nele Barber also had a double-double on 11 kills and 11 digs. Kintzel added nine kills, her most since hammering home 11 against then-No. 8 Florida State in a five set loss Sept. 8, and Niemann contributed six kills and blocks in the victory. Marquette held its opponent to a .053 hitting percentage and forced 25 errors, all while out-blocking the Friars 9-3.

Marquette will hit the road as they take on the Seton Hall Pirates in South Orange, New Jersey at 6 p.m. Friday.

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