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Volleyball upsets No. 10 USC in five grueling sets during home opener

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Volleyball upsets No. 10 USC in five grueling sets during home opener

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

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Marquette women’s volleyball ended last weekend as the Marcia E. Hamilton Classic as champions. Saturday night, the Golden Eagles added to their incredible start by shocking No. 10 University of South California (21-25, 25-20, 25-21, 31-33, 15-11).

“If you’d have asked us in August if we can take a game five (sets) at home against No. 10, I’d take that opportunity every day of the week,” head coach Ryan Theis said.

Leading 2-1 in sets entering the fourth set, Marquette fans’ chants echoed throughout the Al McGuire Center. Winning one more set would mean upsetting the No. 10 team in the nation. The tension was high for the Trojans, who needed to win the next set to stay in the match.

After a timeout, substitutions and a few USC attack errors, Marquette battled back for a 22-20 lead. At one point Marquette and USC were tied at 31-31 before the Trojans won the set 33-31.

“It’s tough when it’s being close,” junior Allie Barber said. “A couple times, we thought we’d get the kill and they just kept bringing it back at us. That’s part of the fun of volleyball is both teams are going to be good and you’ve got to go for it.”

The Golden Eagles were much more fortunate in the fifth set.

Marquette started out strong in a tenuous final set and got out to a quick 7-4 lead. After a sloppy first four sets, it was a much cleaner fifth set. The Golden Eagles had a 0.500 hitting percentage and the Trojans had a 0.421 hitting percentage.

A pair of Anna Haak kills gave the Golden Eagles a 12-10 advantage. All fans were on their feet shouting ‘Golden Eagles’ when Marquette dominated the last point, upsetting USC in the fifth set, 15-11.

“I thought we should embrace (the fifth set) and jump on them early, and see if we could come out to a lead and we did that,” Theis said. “I think they responded really well to missing a lot of opportunities in the fourth.”

The first three sets were particularly close. Neither team led by more than four points. Despite four USC service errors during crucial points in the set, the Trojans won the opening set 25-21. Kills from Barber, Haak and sophomore Hope Werch helped Marquette break away. The Golden Eagles reached their largest lead of the second set at 17-12.

A USC lead in the third set was short-lived as the pair of outside hitters, Haak and Barber, stunned the Trojans with quick kills to regain the lead. Once Barber notched her 18th kill, the Golden Eagles had won the third set, 25-21. The Trojans only had a .111 hitting percentage in the third set.

Barber lead the squad with a career-high 29 kills, Werch added 17 and Haak had 12.

The game drew 768 fans. “We just felt so much energy and so much support the entire time,” Barber said. “It was great, especially in a five-set match where we all get tired, and the crowd brings some energy for us.”

Marquette (6-1) will look for its fifth consecutive win Saturday at 6 p.m. against undefeated No. 3 Brigham Young University (7-0).

“We all came together really well as a team as we trusted each other,” Barber said. “We’re going to have to do that tomorrow to knock off BYU.”

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