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Rocky end to season put volleyball’s tournament hopes in doubt

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Rocky end to season put volleyball’s tournament hopes in doubt

Photo by Austin Anderson

Photo by Austin Anderson

Photo by Austin Anderson

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Internally, prior to the ESPNU college volleyball tournament selection show, Marquette volleyball was confident they would make it to the NCAA tournament.

“I had told them that I believed that we would make it. We had our fingers crossed, but I felt our body of work was in,” head coach Ryan Theis said. “I looked at the field and studied it very carefully. Based on previous experiences, it led me to believe that we were in.”

Externally, however, there were some doubts. The Golden Eagles had lost three of their last four matches, which many believed would hurt their chances with the selection committee.

Nonetheless, the Golden Eagles finished No. 41 in the RPI rankings and the committee determined that they had earned a spot in the tournament. Marquette now has to make sure its confidence isn’t shaken with the way their season ended as they prepare to face Washington State Thursday.

All four of the Golden Eagles’ final matches were against BIG EAST opponents and two of the matches were against the same opponent in Xavier.

“Conference play is really hard because you cannot mask a weakness,” Theis said. “Everyone has seen you play a hundred times. Not only that, but you play teams years in a row. So if you’ve got a passer that struggles with a certain kind of serve, the team that you are playing next year is going to serve that kid because last year we served that kid. … For us, we have some weaknesses. Most people do, but our weaknesses in the preseason, when nobody knows us, you can kind of cover them up, smoke and mirrors your way to some wins that are maybe upsets. When you get to conference it becomes much more challenging.”

However, Theis is holding the team accountable for the last loss to Xavier.

“How we play defensively is a lot about the matchup, they were very efficient,” Theis said. “If we take care of things on our end and we use our strength, we are probably better. But we didn’t use our strength enough.”

One area that Theis felt hurt his team down the stretch was unforced errors. Against Xavier in the BIG EAST tournament, Marquette had 25 errors, 18 of which were unforced. If the errors can be corrected, Theis believes the potential of his team will start to yield results.

“I think what we have learned is we are close,” Theis said. “We have seen our upside be really good, and when it is our chance to compete against anybody is there. If we shoot ourselves in the foot, we make it really really hard on ourselves.”

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