Volleyball notches two wins to keep pace in BIG EAST

Golden Eagles swept both of their opponents this weekend

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Volleyball notches two wins to keep pace in BIG EAST

Photo by Ben Erickson/benjamin.a.erickson@marquette.edu

Photo by Ben Erickson/benjamin.a.erickson@marquette.edu

Photo by Ben Erickson/benjamin.a.erickson@marquette.edu

Photo by Ben Erickson/benjamin.a.erickson@marquette.edu

Andrew Goldstein, andrew.goldstein@mu.edu

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Marquette volleyball has the same conference record at the halfway point of their BIG EAST schedule as they did last year.

With their two straight-sets victories over Providence and St. John’s this past weekend, the Golden Eagles improved to 14-7 overall and 6-3 in the conference. Despite significant lineup changes, tempered expectations and three straight-sets losses at the hands of conference rivals so far this season, Marquette is on track to once again make the conference tournament.

“It could definitely be worse, but it could be better,” Theis said of his team’s performance this season. “We’re just trying to treat each match like it’s our biggest match.”

Theis’ outlook, while certainly applicable to Marquette’s overall season, did not apply to their two matches this weekend; his team could hardly have played better.

The Golden Eagles started the weekend by downing the Providence Friars by a final of 25-17, 25-19, 25-23 on Friday. Redshirt freshman outside hitter Taylor Louis did most of the damage on offense, collecting 17 kills in the three sets. The offense also got a boost from junior setter Sara Blasier, who dished out 33 assists.

Blasier’s finest play from that game, however, was on defense, when she kept up a Providence ball that almost found the floor by sticking out her foot and kicking it soccer-style.

“That was awesome,” Blasier said with a chuckle. “The ball was just kind of by my foot and I kicked it. That was probably the highlight of my volleyball career.”

Somehow, Marquette found a way to top the kick-save and the previous evening’s sweep on Saturday against St. John’s. The Golden Eagles played a beautiful offensive game, hitting .330 as a team and crushing the Red Storm by a final of 25-17, 25-19, 25-14. Marquette’s hitters were so effective that the Red Storm, which had been the best blocking team in the BIG EAST entering the match, did not record a single block all game.

“They made a lot of good decisions,” said Marquette head coach Ryan Theis in reference to his attackers. “I thought the majority of our hitters had a really nice night.”

The hitters weren’t the only ones who had a productive evening. Five different players came up with five or more digs. Junior defensive specialist Ellen Hays had 10 digs and four service aces. And Meghan Niemann contributed three block assists and three solo blocks, including a powerful rejection of a Karin Palgutova shot to end the match. Marquette as a team finished with nine blocks on the night.

Despite their duo of impressive wins, Marquette is still in fourth place in the BIG EAST and three matches behind the conference-leading Creighton Bluejays. Coach Theis’ team will begin the back half of their schedule next weekend at the Al McGuire Center against Seton Hall and Villanova.

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