Women’s club volleyball falters on national stage

No. 2-ranked MU misses national championship for second straight year

Photo+by+Mike+Carpenter%2Fmichael.carpenter%40marquette.edu

Photo by Mike Carpenter/michael.carpenter@marquette.edu

Women’s club volleyball had its worst finish in history at the NCVF National Championship tournament in Louisville, Kentucky last weekend. Marquette came in 20th place in the 48-team Division I bracket, making it to the semi-finals of the silver bracket before losing to Kansas.

The team, which entered the tournament ranked No. 2 in the country, fell flat on the big stage.

“Personally, I had such high expectations for this team and the outcome was not what I had planned for,” senior club president Maria De Valk said in an email.

De Valk was a member of the 2013 and 2014 national championship teams. The Golden Eagles hadn’t finished lower than fifth since 2009. The team went undefeated on day one of the tournament, but were upset by No. 16 UCLA and No. 5 Michigan State on day two, both to scores of 16-18 in tie-breaking final sets. Senior Colleen Bailey described the performances as “heartbreaking.”

“It was really disappointing, especially for the seniors who have given a lot to the program over the years and would do anything for another run at a national championship,” Bailey said in an email.

Despite the loss, De Valk believes the team’s returning players gained invaluable experience and will add fuel to the fire for next season.

“This tournament definitely taught the team about resilience and mental toughness,” De Valk said. “Every game at nationals is tough since you are playing the best of the best. We had a very young team this year so having the exposure to a tough tournament this year hopefully will help everyone prepare for next year. I think (the team) can all agree that this year’s outcome will be used as motivation to push us even harder for our goal next year.”

Not all was lost on the season. The team finished first or second in every tournament it played and it returned to the scene as a national threat. The Golden Eagles are losing only four seniors – De Valk, Bailey, Lindsey Gosh and Kathleen Brennan – so the remaining core will likely have high expectations again next year.

“Even though we didn’t get the results we wanted, I think we really left it all out on the court and gave everything we had,” Bailey said. “With the talent among the returning players and the leadership of the remaining upperclassmen, I have no doubt that this team will succeed in seasons to come.”