Volleyball sweeps Xavier in afternoon match

Marquette volleyball avoided losing back-to-back regular season conference matches for the first time since 2011 with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-20, 26-24) win over Xavier Wednesday afternoon at the Al McGuire Center.

“This was big,” Marquette head coach Ryan Theis said. “We got to go on the road tomorrow, you know. We leave already. We go Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Wednesday, so to start that string off with a win, especially coming off Saturday night I think was really big.”

Xavier is one of the fastest teams in the country, but Marquette was able to counteract that.

“It’s really fast. It’s the fastest you’ll see,” Theis said. “USC probably played that same tempo, but these guys have hitters coming at you, they double load zones a lot just to try and cause deception and it works. But I thought we had a good defensive game plan for it. I thought we stuck to it for the most part. We just got to get stops on defense and try to dig some of those because we aren’t going to block it when it is a good pass.”

Opposed to last match, where the Golden Eagles struggled on the block, nothing was getting around Marquette against Xavier, as they recorded eight blocks compared to Xavier’s two.

“We are big,” middle Meghan Niemann said. “We are a very very big team, so we are bigger than them. We do a lot of work with our reading so we are on time to close blocks. When you have four big hands in front of you, it is kind of hard to get a kill sometimes.”

It was an extremely efficient day for Niemann and fellow middle Jenna Rosenthal. Niemann had 10 kills with a .412 hitting percentage, while Rosenthal hit seven kills with no errors and a career-high .636 hitting percentage.

“Normally, when one person gets going, that allows someone else to get going,” Niemann said. “Taylor (Louis) started by getting some kills for us, then that would pull a blocker off me and onto her. So any time we can get a lot of people going, so Jenna was going, Taylor was going, I was going, Allie (Barber) was going, then you get more and more people going and it opens up doors for everyone.”

Louis led Marquette in the first set with six kills and two serving aces, one of which was the set-winning point. With the score at 16-15 in favor of Marquette, the Golden Eagles went on a 6-3 run, forcing Xavier to call timeout. Marquette continued to apply pressure, going on to win the set 25-20.

Xavier started the second set on a 4-1 run, but Marquette battled back to make the score 6-6. After tying the score, the two teams exchanged points for most of the set, until the score was 20-20. The Golden Eagles proceeded to finish off the set with five unanswered points, including back-to-back kills.

The third set started with Marquette going on a 6-2 run. Xavier, however, refused to go away and eventually took a 24-23 lead. The Golden Eagles would stay poised and used three unanswered points to finish off the match.

Marquette will travel to New York to take on St. John’s on Friday and Seton Hall on Saturday.