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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Volleyball beats UNI in four sets

Jack Phillips
Photo by Jordan Johnson
Kaitlyn “K.J.” Lines attempts a kill in Marquette’s four-set win over Northern Iowa.

The No. 8 Golden Eagles ended the Hyatt Regency Marquette Invitational Saturday night undefeated, taking down University of Northern Iowa in four sets (20-25, 25-22, 28-26, 25-6).

But the Panthers, a team receiving votes in the AVCA Coaches’ Poll, were not an easy opponent in the first three sets.

“(The match) was really gutsy,” head coach Ryan Theis said. “Northern Iowa played a phenomenal game one.”

Despite Marquette hopping out to an early 6-2 lead in the first set, UNI fought back to capture a 17-14 advantage. The Panthers went on to win the set 25-20.

The Golden Eagles struggled to connect on the attack early on, hitting their worst percentage of the day at .136 in the opening set. Meanwhile UNI hit at its most efficient clip of the day at .317.

“We were a little nervous after we lost that one set,” junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Lines said. “The other team was playing really good defense. We hit a lot of balls right to the libero.”

Marquette had a 17-11 lead in the second set, but UNI came back to cut MU’s lead to 23-20. The Golden Eagles hung on to win the set 25-22.

“Our team weathered the storm a little bit in game two,” Theis said.

The third set was highly competitive as the two teams traded the lead. Marquette fought off three set points and captured a 28-26 third set win on a double contact violation from UNI.

“The defining moment was just the guts at the end of the third set,” Theis said. “It was 23-20. We were down and came back and got it even at 24. … That finish maybe deflated those guys a little bit.”

In the final set, it was utter Marquette domination. The Golden Eagles won 25-6, their largest set victory of the season. They were on a 10-1 run early and led by 19 at one point.

“It was so much fun,” Lines said. “We were all just playing really loose. I don’t think we were perfect in any means. … It wasn’t as stressful as the other sets.”

The fourth set was by far the Golden Eagles’ most efficient, hitting at a .480 clip and holding the Panthers to -.129.

Once again, senior outside hitter Allie Barber led all hitters with 17 kills, also adding two digs and two blocks. Though Barber struggled early, she came through in crucial moments during the third set. She was awarded MVP of the Marquette Invitational.

“Teams are going to slow her down. They’re going to focus a lot of attention on her,” Theis said. “At the end, she had a nice matchup and scored a lot of points.”

Lines had one of her best matches as a Golden Eagle with a double-double of 16 kills, 11 digs. She also accumulated two assists, one service ace and one block.

“Definitely more confidence this match than the last matches,” Lines said. “I’ve been playing OK, but I think this match I felt more comfortable and more like myself.”

Theis attributed Lines’ success to widening her shot selection.

Junior setter Sarah Rose ended the night with a double-double of 21 assists and 10 digs. Senior setter Lauren Speckman contributed 26 assists while junior libero Martha Konovodoff had 28 digs and four assists. Konovodoff and Speckman were selected to the all-tournament team.

Senior outside hitter Karlie Taylor and redshirt junior middle hitter Kate Busswitz led UNI with 13 kills apiece. Taylor had a double-double, adding 16 digs and also had two blocks. Sophomore Inga Rotto finished in double figures with 10 kills.

No. 8 Marquette finishes the nonconference season 10-2, the program’s best start since the 1997 season, and begins conference play Wednesday hosting Butler at 11:30 a.m.

“It was a really good way to end our preseason,” Lines said. “It’s really reassuring to know we can come down from deficits. When we drop a set, we know that we can still come back and fight.”

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