Volleyball upsets No. 9 BYU on the road in four sets

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Volleyball upsets No. 9 BYU on the road in four sets

Marquette's win over BYU Saturday night comes a year after losing to the Cougars at the Al McGuire Center. (Marquette Wire Stock Photo)

Marquette's win over BYU Saturday night comes a year after losing to the Cougars at the Al McGuire Center. (Marquette Wire Stock Photo)

Marquette's win over BYU Saturday night comes a year after losing to the Cougars at the Al McGuire Center. (Marquette Wire Stock Photo)

Marquette's win over BYU Saturday night comes a year after losing to the Cougars at the Al McGuire Center. (Marquette Wire Stock Photo)

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After two easy sweeps of Utah Valley and Boise State in the BYU Nike Invitational Friday, No. 16 Marquette faced a tougher test Saturday: Brigham Young University. 

The Golden Eagles proved to be up for the challenge, toppling the No. 9 Cougars (22-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-12) in four sets on BYU’s home floor. 

It was the third top-10 victory in MU history and the Cougars’ first loss in Smith Fieldhouse since October 2017.

“It’s a great confidence builder,” head coach Ryan Theis said in a statement on Marquette volleyball’s Twitter. “It’s tough to win out here. We had a lot of good performances and hit a lot of really big plays.”

Marquette had a rough start. There were seven lead changes in the first set before a late Cougars rally gave BYU a 25-22 set victory.

But the ensuing sets showed a much different Marquette team. 

“(BYU) started off hitting really well,” Theis said. “We were able to get some stops and apply service pressure. It was just a great team effort.”

In the second set, the Golden Eagles went on an eight-point swing and used that momentum to secure a 25-16 win. Marquette then overcame an early three-point deficit to take a 25-22 victory in the third set.

The fourth set was all Marquette from the start. The Golden Eagles motored their way to a 25-12 victory with a .455 hitting percentage while holding the Cougars to a clip of -0.040.

“We got better as the match went on, especially defensively,” Theis said. “They weren’t able to get any in-system looks, so I thought that made our defense again more aggressive.”

Senior outside hitter Allie Barber led the way with 19 kills and was named to the All-Tournament team along with junior outside hitter Hope Werch, who had 11 kills Saturday night. 

Junior outside hitter Kaitlyn “K.J.” Lines was the Invitational’s MVP after putting up 17 kills, five digs and a service ace against the Cougars.

Senior setter Lauren Speckman had a game-high 31 assists and 13 digs, and junior libero Martha Konovodoff recorded 13 digs.

For BYU, Madelyn Robinson put up 18 kills, setter Whitney Bower had 26 assists, libero Mary Lake contributed 10 digs and middle blocker Heather Gneiting had 7 total blocks.

Next up for No. 16 Marquette (3-0) is another difficult matchup at in-state rival No. 5 Wisconsin Thursday at 7 p.m. Central Standard Time.

“We’ve got a bit of a gauntlet coming up in terms of the schedule, so we’ll take one match at a time,” Theis said. “Everybody we’re playing from here on out is an NCAA Tournament team, or close to it. So it’s going to be a tough road the next couple weeks.”

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