Volleyball opens November with a sweep over Xavier

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Volleyball opens November with a sweep over Xavier

Sophomore Ellie Koontz digs the ball in Marquette's three-set sweep against Xavier.

Sophomore Ellie Koontz digs the ball in Marquette's three-set sweep against Xavier.

Photo by Katerina Pourliakas

Sophomore Ellie Koontz digs the ball in Marquette's three-set sweep against Xavier.

Photo by Katerina Pourliakas

Photo by Katerina Pourliakas

Sophomore Ellie Koontz digs the ball in Marquette's three-set sweep against Xavier.

Aimee Galaszewski

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For the ninth consecutive season, Marquette volleyball has reached another 20-win season following the team’s sweep over Xavier Friday night (25-21, 25-16, 25-20).

But there was one outfit change: green warmup shirts that said “In this state, no one stands alone.”

This was in support of Ben White, the Middleton High School men’s volleyball coach for the past 18 years, who was diagnosed with lymphoma about two months ago.

Head coach Ryan Theis was a Middleton graduate. He said he is trying to support his high school program as much as he can.

“We wanted to give a shoutout to Ben,” Theis said. “These shirts, they did a boy’s tournament, but the tournament shut down and they took a big group picture of it. … We had his parents come out tonight. It’s great, he’s fighting it right now. He’s going to win that one.”

In terms of the match, Marquette claimed an early 14-10 lead in the first set. Despite seven service errors in the opening frame, the Golden Eagles combined for a .310 clip and won 25-21.

“We just kind of got in a little rut,” junior outside hitter Hope Werch said. “It was a weird set.”

“Everybody just looked a little uneasy,” Theis said. “When you have a night when they’re not confident at the start, you have to work out of it.”

Marquette was on fire in the second set. The Golden Eagles’ biggest lead of the night came during this set at 20-11, as MU combined for its best hitting percentage of the night at .485.

“Offense remained well throughout. We did a good job with small-balls and stuff,” Theis said. “Have to figure out some overpasses, I was pretty disappointed in some of that. All in all, pretty consistent offensive night.”

The final set was much closer and had 14 tied scores. Much of the third was trading off points until the Golden Eagles pulled away in the final points to win their fifth consecutive match.

“At the timeout I said, ‘we have 18 kills, how is this so close?’ They were scoring some points too,” Theis said. “Credit to them, they earned it.”

“Our mindset was we just have to keep siding out right away,” Werch said. “They’re a good team. They’re scrappy. They have good hitters.”

Senior Allie Barber led all hitters with 15 kills. Werch recorded 11 kills, six digs and two service aces. Sophomore Ellie Koontz tied Werch with 11 kills, hitting at a .500 clip. Senior Lauren Speckman dished out a match-high 23 assists, while junior Martha Konovodoff contributed 18 digs.

Marquette has been without junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Lines since Oct. 2 at Xavier. Theis said there is no update on when she will be ready to return.

For the Musketeers, freshman MaryAnn O’Toole and junior Moriah Hopkins tied with a team-high seven kills. Freshman Carrigan O’Reilly led Xavier with 16 assists. Libero Madi Kutruff tied with O’Toole for a team-high 12 digs.

The No. 10 Golden Eagles (20-3, 10-1 BIG EAST) head to Indianapolis to take on the Butler Bulldogs Sunday at 12 p.m. Central Standard Time.

“If we can pass and play consistent offense, I’d love to take that with us on the road,” Theis said.

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