Marquette Wire

Volleyball to play in-state rival Wisconsin in NCAA Tournament first round

Jenna+Rosenthal+and+Lauren+Speckman+attempt+a+block+against+Creighton+in+the+BIG+EAST+Championship.+The+Golden+Eagles+will+meet+in-state+rival+University+of+Wisconsin-Madison+on+Friday+in+Ames%2C+Iowa+in+the+first+round+of+the+NCAA+Tournament.+This+is+Marquette%27s+seventh+straight+tournament+appearance.+
Jenna Rosenthal and Lauren Speckman attempt a block against Creighton in the BIG EAST Championship. The Golden Eagles will meet in-state rival University of Wisconsin-Madison on Friday in Ames, Iowa in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. This is Marquette's seventh straight tournament appearance.

Jenna Rosenthal and Lauren Speckman attempt a block against Creighton in the BIG EAST Championship. The Golden Eagles will meet in-state rival University of Wisconsin-Madison on Friday in Ames, Iowa in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. This is Marquette's seventh straight tournament appearance.

Photo by Maggie Bean

Photo by Maggie Bean

Jenna Rosenthal and Lauren Speckman attempt a block against Creighton in the BIG EAST Championship. The Golden Eagles will meet in-state rival University of Wisconsin-Madison on Friday in Ames, Iowa in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. This is Marquette's seventh straight tournament appearance.

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For the seventh consecutive season, Marquette volleyball will be headed to the NCAA tournament. This year, the Golden Eagles will face in-state rival University of Wisconsin-Madison this Friday 4 p.m. in Ames, Iowa.

“I think it is fun with the in-state rivalry. The regional process can do that and put you in those situations,” head coach Ryan Theis said. “It’s a good draw. It will be a tough weekend for sure. It’s always fun playing those guys. I know our team gets fired up for sure.”

This will be the first time the in-state rivals square off in the postseason, although Marquette made the trek to Madison in 2014 and 2016 when the Badgers hosted a regional.

The Golden Eagles will look to bounce back from their loss to Wisconsin in September. At the time, the Badgers were ranked No. 5 in the country and took the match 3-1, dealing Wisconsin its first set loss of the season. Prior to that match, Wisconsin won 21 sets in a row.

“Of course both teams have been so incredibly different because that is almost two months ago, and that’s a very long time in the volleyball world,” middle blocker Jenna Rosenthal said. “It’s not like a familiarity, but the comfort in going against an old rival that we have seen a lot. We are on an even playing field and we can go get them. Just having that confidence in your back pocket is really important.”

Marquette is finishing up a 22-9 campaign that concluded last weekend, when the Golden Eagles fell to Creighton in the BIG EAST Championship. The Badgers, on the other hand, wrapped up their season with a 20-9 record. Five of their nine losses were to top 10 teams.

Middle blocker Dana Rettke leads Wisconsin’s offense. Rettke averaged 3.37 kills per set on a blistering .445 hitting percentage, which ranks fifth in the country. In their match in September, the Golden Eagles held Rettke to three kills, which is no easy feat, since Rettke stands at 6-foot-8.

Rosenthal, 6-foot-6, is Marquette’s tallest player. This is one of the only times she won’t have a height advantage, but Rosenthal never thought being taller was that important.

“Sometimes people can talk about the height advantage a lot and it really doesn’t (matter),” Rosenthal said. “There are a lot of other things that go into it: lateral speed, horizontal speed.”

Rosenthal is still looking forward to squaring off against Rettke. “It’s really exciting when you play someone where you can look them in the eye right through the net. There is a little bit of tension there going back and forth. I think it is going to be fun.”

Marquette’s focus on Rettke in September opened up opportunities for outside hitter Kelli Bates, who recorded 17 kills.

“I think their lefts got to us a little bit last time,” Theis said. “We actually did a good job on Rettke … So, we will have hands full with the middles and the pins, but we will have to score points. You can’t give them four or five chances.”

Immediately after watching the selection show, the Golden Eagles headed to the Al McGuire Center for practice. They will practice Monday and Tuesday before heading to Ames early Wednesday.

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