Volleyball protects home court with Marquette Invitational win

Golden Eagles went 2-1 on the weekend

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Volleyball protects home court with Marquette Invitational win

Photo by Doug Peters/douglas.peters@marquette.edu

Photo by Doug Peters/douglas.peters@marquette.edu

Photo by Doug Peters/douglas.peters@marquette.edu

Photo by Doug Peters/douglas.peters@marquette.edu

Andrew Goldstein, andrew.goldstein@mu.edu

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Marquette volleyball stuck to a familiar script in their first weekend of home matches: one step backward, two steps forward.

The Golden Eagles won the Marquette Invitational this weekend with a 2-1 record. They opened the tournament with a tough five-game loss against the Wichita State Shockers on Friday night, but they rallied to sweep the Albany Great Danes on Saturday afternoon and top the Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis Jaguars in four sets on Saturday night.

“I do think we had longer stretches of focus this weekend,” head coach Ryan Theis said. “I’m pleased with our ability to win and wear (our opponents) down.”

Marquette’s weekend got off to a tough start against Wichita State. The Shockers came to the Invitational ranked 24th in the country by PrepVolleyball and they played like it, out-blocking Marquette almost two to one. Wichita State middle blocker Katie Reilly racked up 20 kills on only 39 swings, including a cross-court smash from the right block to put the Golden Eagles away in the final set.

“We’re not where we need to be, blocking-wise,” Theis said after the loss. “And Wichita State’s not an easy team to block.”

The Golden Eagles were back on the court at the Al McGuire Center 15 hours later to take on Albany. This time, Marquette controlled the tenor of the game from the beginning, limiting the Great Danes to a .059 hitting percentage en route to a straight-set victory.

That set up a showdown with IUPUI, who entered the Marquette match having won their previous two matches against Albany and Wichita State. The two teams captured one set each before the intermission, and IUPUI held a 21-16 lead late in the third set.

Marquette, in danger of falling behind 2-1, called upon their serving specialist: sophomore defender Nicki Barnes, who answered the call.

Marquette won the next eight points with Barnes at the service line. Barnes accounted for three service aces in that stretch. Her line-drive serves gave the Jaguars’ back line fits and resulted in a 25-23 third-set victory for Marquette. The Golden Eagles went on to capture the fourth set 25-15 and the match 3-1.

“Nicki came in and kind of broke them,” Theis said.

Outside hitter Joy Miley earned tournament Most Valuable Player honors after earning 29 kills over the course of the weekend. Barnes and fellow outside hitter Taylor Louis were selected to the all-tournament team.

This tournament marks the conclusion of the bulk of Marquette’s non–conference schedule; crosstown rival UW-Milwaukee is the only non-conference opponent left on the docket. Marquette’s record is now 8-4 as they enter BIG EAST play this week with a Wednesday night match against Xavier.

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