Volleyball secures fifth consecutive BIG EAST sweep over Butler

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Volleyball secures fifth consecutive BIG EAST sweep over Butler

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

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Marquette volleyball secured its fifth consecutive sweep of a BIG EAST opponent Wednesday, defeating the Butler Bulldogs (25-12, 25-13, 25-22) at the Al McGuire Center.

The Golden Eagles were firing early and often in the first set, using multiple big runs to earn an early 15-6 lead before winning the first frame 25-12.

Junior outside hitter and BIG EAST kill leader Allie Barber put up five kills in that set. Junior setter Lauren Speckman added seven assists. Marquette hit a clip of 0.353 in the frame, while holding the Bulldogs to a hitting percentage of 0.000. Six different Golden Eagles recorded a kill.

“We have a lot of people that can contribute points in so many ways,” senior Anna Haak said. “That makes it so much more difficult for opponents to scout, so that’s definitely helped us.”

The second set was much of the same for the Golden Eagles, going up early and not relinquishing the lead. They took the set 25-13. The hard-hitting trio of Barber, Haak and redshirt senior Jenna Rosenthal combined had a combined 24 kills through the first two frames.

The third set was much closer and included Butler’s first lead of the night. Marquette eventually took the set 25-22 despite a late 3-0 Butler scoring run. There were nine ties in the frame.

Barber put up 17 kills on a hitting percentage of 0.484 in the match. Haak had a double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs. Speckman had the team high in assists with 21 and contributed two service aces.

The Golden Eagles hit for a combined 0.398 and held Butler to a clip of 0.157.

“We were able to take away some of the things we think (the Bulldogs) like to do,” head coach Ryan Theis. “I thought a couple of people made some really nice stops defensively.”

Meanwhile for the Bulldogs, middle blocker Bri Lilly and outside hitter Brooke Gregory each recorded eight kills. Setter Maddie Freiwald contributing a match-high 23 assists. Middle blocker Melody Davidson had four block assists, but that was not enough to quell the powerful Golden Eagle attack.

“We knew they were one of the best blocking teams,” Theis said. “We certainly knew in the league they were leading the way, out-blocking people three to one, but they don’t like to get blocked, so you have to flip it.”

They certainly did that, holding the seventh-best team in blocks per set in the country to six blocks. Butler entered play averaging about nine over three sets.

Despite the success of the No. 19 Golden Eagles in the BIG EAST so far, Theis said he is not worried about players becoming complacent.

“They know every time they step on the floor we’re playing for a chance to host the NCAA Tournament First and Second Rounds,” Theis said. “They’re very businessman-like. They come in every day, they want to get better and their heads are in the right spot.”

The Golden Eagles (15-4, 6-1 BIG EAST) will square off against the St. John’s Red Storm at 4 p.m. Central time Friday night before traveling to Seton Hall Saturday at 6 p.m. Central time.

“I’m excited,” Haak said about the weekend. “There (are) three games this week, so I’m glad we kept it to three (sets) today. But yeah, let’s get another two wins this weekend; that’d be great.”

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