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Men’s club volleyball falls to No. 1 UW-Oshkosh

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Fans packed into the old gymnasium Thursday night. The bleachers overflowed into folding chairs, and when those ran out, it was standing room only. The impassioned crowd, full of Marquette students, witnessed a thriller as the third ranked Marquette men’s club volleyball team fell three games to two against No. 1 UW-Oshkosh.

It was a rematch of a bout in Oshkosh three weeks prior, when Marquette handed the Titans their first conference home loss in over six years. This time, the straight-laced, disciplined and professionally coached Titans meticulously whittled away the Golden Eagles.

Marquette built an early 5-1 lead in the first there was plenty of showboating, but Oshkosh fought back and took the set 25-18. The second set followed a similar narrative. After leads of 9-3 and 14-7, Marquette failed to close, and in an epic back and forth, the Titans stole the second set 29-27.

With Marquette down 2-0 and the crowd slowly beginning to fizzle, the Golden Eagles seemed disillusioned. That’s when Marquette’s stars, Chandler North, Danny Rivera and Mike Schmitt, showed extreme resilience and proved their number three ranking.

The trio of juniors earned Marquette back-to-back wins, 25-18 and 25-17, to lead the game into a surprising fifth set. But, the fourth set win also came with a big loss. Star outside hitter and 2012 Junior Olympiad, Danny Rivera, fell into a heap under the net with a nasty thigh cramp.

It felt like a death blow, but again, the team rallying around North, Schmitt and freshman middle hitter Boyan Carley, didn’t break. They didn’t even slightly bend.

Marquette started hot, 3-0, in the fifth set but Oshkosh fired back going up 7-3. By the time they switched sides, it was 8-6. That’s when Rivera returned to the floor.

It wasn’t enough. Oshkosh went on a 7-4 run to close out and take the final set 15-10.

A win Thursday would have vaulted Marquette to the number one seed in men’s club volleyball, a ranking they can now only earn by winning nationals in April. They did prove one thing, though. Winning without Rivera is possible. Without him on the floor, they outscored Oshkosh 15-13.

The men’s club volleyball team has a tough road ahead, but the kind of fight they showed tonight, coming back from a two games to nothing deficient, proves they have what it takes to potentially capture a national title for the first time since 2005.

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