Volleyball opens 2019 NCAA Tournament with sweep over Dayton

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Volleyball opens 2019 NCAA Tournament with sweep over Dayton

Senior outside hitter Allie Barber had a match-high 17 kills in Marquette's win over Dayton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Purdue's campus.

Senior outside hitter Allie Barber had a match-high 17 kills in Marquette's win over Dayton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Purdue's campus.

Photo by John Steppe

Senior outside hitter Allie Barber had a match-high 17 kills in Marquette's win over Dayton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Purdue's campus.

Photo by John Steppe

Photo by John Steppe

Senior outside hitter Allie Barber had a match-high 17 kills in Marquette's win over Dayton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Purdue's campus.

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Golden Eagles responded to missing out on a hosting spot in the NCAA Tournament with a dominant victory (25-23, 25-19, 25-22) over the University of Dayton Friday evening.

“(Not hosting) definitely gave us motivation because we knew that we had goals going into the NCAA Tournament,” senior Allie Barber said. “Going on the road is always a fun challenge playing in a different environment.”

It was Marquette’s 28th victory of the season, tying the program-best mark set last year.

The sweep didn’t look so promising early in the first set, as there were 12 ties and six lead changes. However, Marquette took a 20-17 lead and didn’t look back. A block by first-year outside hitter Hannah Vanden Berg and graduate student Gwyn Jones secured the win.

“Gwyn made a nice read to get a double block up and took away the cross-court shot,” Marquette head coach Ryan Theis said. “It was a little bit of a hustle play, an intelligent play to kind of save the day there at the end.”

Though the Golden Eagles were hitting their match-best clip of .441, Dayton had four service aces and three blocks in the first set alone.

“There’s probably some nerves and feeling the other team out,” Dayton head coach Tim Horsman said. “We had the ability to do some things, but we just couldn’t sustain it.”

The Golden Eagles had a shaky start to the second frame, falling behind 6-1. However, Marquette rattled off five consecutive points to tie the second.

“We didn’t start very clean at all,” Theis said. “It was a large chunk early, and then we cleaned it up. Really good bounce-back by the group, and then we got closer to even, and then all of the sudden we took off and got pretty hot.”

Marquette later took a 15-12 advantage and maintained a comfortable lead for the rest of the set and won following a 5-0 run. Dayton had four service errors.

“We missed four out of five of our first servers,” Horsman said. “We were trying to serve tougher to get them out of system. They’re a really good systematic offensive team.”

The third set remained close, as neither team led by more than two points until Marquette won the set 25-22. There were 11 ties and four lead changes.

“Going into postseason, not a lot of teams are going to give a lot to us,” senior Lauren Speckman said. “It’s important for us to really earn what we’re earning.”

Horsman said his team’s errors in important parts of the match was “the regrettable thing” from Friday’s match.

“We just made too many errors in big moments,” Horsman said. “At the end of the sets, they played with a lot of maturity in big points, and we didn’t.”

Barber, the BIG EAST Player of the Year, led the Golden Eagles with a match-high 17 kills on 37 attempts with only three errors. Junior outside hitter Hope Werch neared a double-double with 11 kills and nine digs.

Speckman recorded a match-best 24 assists. Junior libero Martha Konovodoff chipped in a match-high 12 digs.

In her first NCAA Tournament game, Vanden Berg was close to a double-double with eight kills and 11 digs.

Jamie Peterson led the Flyers with 11 kills, while Alli Papesh had 10 kills and three of the team’s six service aces. Bridget Doherty recorded a team-best 15 assists while recording eight digs. Maura Collins ended with a team-high nine digs.

Senior Olivia Dubay accounted for five of her team’s seven blocks.

“(For Dubay) to play her best volleyball at the end of her senior year, I strive to do that, and you really inspired me today,” Doherty said.

The Golden Eagles (28-6, 15-2 BIG EAST) play the winner of Wright State v. No. 16-seed and host Purdue Saturday. Wright State and Purdue play Friday night at 6 p.m. Central Standard Time. Saturday’s match is also slated to start at 6 p.m.

“Just the challenge is exciting,” Speckman said. “Being able to play volleyball against some really good teams is going to be fun in the next day, and it was fun today.”

 

This story was written by Zoe Comerford. She can be reached at isabel.comerford@marquette.edu and on Twitter @zoe_comerford.