Barber, Speckman say goodbye to Marquette volleyball

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Seniors Allie Barber (10), Madeline Mosher (second from left), Lauren Speckman (5) and graduate transfer Gwyn Jones (18) hold the BIG EAST runner-up trophy. Marquette fell to St. John's in the title match. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

The four-year Marquette volleyball career of dynamic duo Allie Barber and Lauren Speckman came to an abrupt end Dec. 7.

However, the players’ contributions to the Golden Eagles’ successes over the past year filled the season with record-breaking action that left a legacy.

This season, outside hitter Barber became the all-time kills leader at Marquette, finishing her career with 1,871 kills. Speckman, a setter, ranks fifth all-time in assists at MU after recording 2,852 career assists, 711 of them in 2019.

Collectively, the Golden Eagles also broke records this season, as they upset two teams in the top 10 in consecutive matches for the first time in program history, then-No. 9 Brigham Young University and then-No. 4 Wisconsin, both being away matches. Marquette reached a program-best No. 7 in the AVCA Coaches Poll.

With a 28-6 record this season, the Golden Eagles tied a program-best 28 wins set in 2018. Marquette made its ninth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and is one of 15 schools with a streak of at least eight straight appearances. MU has gone 29 consecutive weeks ranked in the AVCA Coaches Poll including eight weeks this season in the top 10.

 

Class of 2020 sets records

In total, Barber and Speckman’s class finishes with 101 career victories, which matches the Class of 2014 for the winningest class in Marquette volleyball history.

“(The seniors) really stepped into leadership roles at the end of their freshman year, believe it or not,” head coach Ryan Theis said. “After their first semester, they started leading the way, and I think they’ve been hugely responsible for all the success that we’ve had.”

Over the past four years, the Golden Eagles have reached new heights, including four consecutive 20-win seasons — with 2018 and 2019 being back-to-back 28-win seasons — and four straight NCAA berths and back-to-back Round of 32 appearances. They hosted the NCAA Tournament First and Second Rounds for the first time and made the program’s first trip to the Sweet 16 in 2018.

Theis said the senior class has meant everything to him. After seven seniors and two players transferred out following the 2016-17 season, Theis said there were only five or six returners, including Barber, Speckman and Madeline Mosher.

“They said, ‘We want to do things the right way. We believe in what you believe in, and let’s right this ship,'” Theis said.

The next match they went into was in their sophomore season at (then-No. 20) Hawaii in front of 6,000 fans, and they won it.

“We’ve gotten a lot of really big wins along the way that these guys are going to remember for a really long time,” Theis said.

 

Barber and Speckman’s Successes

The Golden Eagles have consistently been a top 10 program and Speckman has been crucial to that rebuilding process.

The San Jose, California, native was a two-time BIG EAST All-Academic member and member of the 2017 All-BIG EAST Second Team. The 5-foot-9 setter completed her career playing in 358 sets and 115 matches, while contributing 7.96 assists per set, 683 digs, 75 service aces, and 82 kills.

Though Speckman has now begun a new career in beach volleyball at the University of San Francisco, she said Marquette has taught her lessons beyond her volleyball skills.

“It’s been a great opportunity,” Speckman said. “It’s definitely going to direct a lot of what our work ethic is for the rest of our lives, so (I’m) very grateful.”

Meanwhile, Barber has been one of the most prolific players in Marquette history.

In her career, she has amassed 15 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week honors and 10 conference honor roll awards in 463 career sets. She was a four-time All-BIG EAST First Team honoree with three of them unanimous decisions.

In 2019 she was a unanimous selection for the BIG EAST Player of the Year. Barber is only the fourth player in 30 years to repeat the accolade, as she received it in 2017. In the 6-foot-5 outside hitter’s last season, she accumulated a career-best 569 kills and seven assists, including eight service aces, 63 digs, and 41 blocks. Those statistics earned her 2019 AVCA All-East Coast Region honors and AVCA All-American Honorable Mention.

In 2018, she was the AVCA East Coast Region Player of the Year and AVCA Second Team All-American. In 2017, she was recognized with AVCA All-East Coast Region and AVCA Honorable Mention All-American honors.

In the NCAA this season, she was one of four players who averaged at least 4.66 kills per set and hit above a .307 clip. The Cedarburg, Wisconsin, native was also one of 10 finalists for the 2019 Senior CLASS Award and Dec. 9 was chosen as the Academic All-America Team Member of the Year. This is the second straight year Barber was on the Academic All America First Team. 

Most teams don’t have any answers to Barber’s offensive prowess and court vision.

“She’s 6-foot-5, and she has a lot of experience, and she’s smart. So she doesn’t hit the same shot all the time,” Purdue head coach Dave Shondell said. “She’s a skill player, and she’s big and physical and has a lot of confidence. When they’re in system, she gets a lot tougher.”

While Barber will not play professionally and is going to medical school instead, she said this experience has meant so much to her.

“It’s really hard to put into words everything that this program has given us seniors,” Barber said. “I know it’s something that we’ll remember forever and take it along with us the rest of our lives, and it’s really fun to be a part of.”

 

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