All 14 Marquette varsity sports play during spring, without spectators

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Inside of the Al McGuire Center during Marquette volleyball’s match against Wisconsin in 2018. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

For the first time in the 105-year history of Marquette Athletics, all 14 of the Golden Eagles’ varsity sports will be occurring during the same season. In 2021 fashion, things will be much different than in previous seasons as there will continue to be no in-person fan attendance.

“Schedules and championship information is subject to change based on local COVID-19 developments. All Marquette home competitions will continue to be held without fans until further notice in accordance with state and local guidelines. MU is working with health officials to evaluate a potential return for fans in some capacity this season,” Marquette Athletics released in a statement.

After the NCAA pushed back the start of the 2020-21 men’s and women’s basketball seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic,  Marquette men’s basketball was able to start Nov. 25 and the women’s team began Nov. 29. Despite both programs being in quarantine Oct. 21, the men’s team has not had another incident of COVID-19 within the program. The Golden Eagles’ games against Villanova Jan. 8 and Georgetown Jan. 20 were both postponed due to positive cases in the other teams’ programs. Meanwhile, the women’s basketball team was stopped a second time on New Year’s Day due to a positive case within the program as three of MU’s games — against DePaul, at Creighton and against Villanova — had to be postponed due to the stoppage in play.

In mid-August 2020, the BIG EAST canceled all fall sports and eventually pushed their seasons to the spring. This change mainly affected volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer as well as both cross country programs. Golf, tennis and lacrosse also had their fall competition seasons canceled.

The No. 20-ranked Marquette women’s volleyball team began its 2020-21 campaign Jan. 22-23, hosting Illinois State in back-to-back matches at the Al McGuire Center. The Golden Eagles will now go on a four-game road trip to University of Northern Iowa, Drake University and Creighton University, and will face the Bluejays both Feb. 5 and Feb. 6. MU finishes out its nonconference slate hosting Saint Louis University and Iowa State at the Al McGuire Center.

Both soccer teams begin their respective schedules next week. The men’s team hosts Loyola University Chicago for its season opener Feb. 3 and the women’s team welcomes Chicago State University Feb. 5 inside the Valley Fields dome.

“We’re very thankful to get the opportunity to play this spring,” men’s soccer head coach Louis Bennett said in a statement. “Our staff and administration worked extremely hard to put together this schedule and we’re set to play five nonconference teams who are going to challenge us in a number of different ways.”

Following BIG EAST precautions, Marquette plays home-and-home games against selected teams, the western division — which consists of Butler, Creighton, DePaul and Xavier. Then the top two teams from the west and east divisions advance to the conference semifinals, which are slated for April 14 for the women’s side and April 17 for the men’s.

“Being able to have a nonconference season is such a gift because so many people do not have that ability,” women’s soccer head coach Frank Pelaez said in a statement. “In BIG EAST competition, we (may) have to play people back-to-back, and maybe the same team four times in a row in order to get into a conference tournament championship. I think everybody right now is willing to do whatever it takes.”

Meanwhile, both lacrosse programs are back in action beginning mid-February. The men’s team hosts Cleveland State University for Marquette’s opener Feb. 13. Conference play starts Feb. 20 as the program hosts University of Denver, and for the first time, the Golden Eagles will face the BIG EAST teams twice — at home and away.

“We are pleased to announce our 2021 schedule a little over 10 months after the abrupt end to our 2020 campaign,” men’s lacrosse head coach Andrew Stimmel said in a statement. “The road back to competition has been an arduous journey that has been embraced by our entire program. … (We) will continue to be vigilant in our precautions against the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

The women’s lacrosse team travels to Cincinnati Feb. 14 to face the Bearcats for Marquette’s 2021 regular season opener. BIG EAST games will be different this year for the Golden Eagles, as there will be back-to-back games in the same weekend. March 19 and 21 the team hosts University of Connecticut, March 26 and 28 MU travels to Villanova, April 9 and 11 they are at Georgetown, April 16 and 18 Marquette hosts University of Denver and finishes out by traveling to Indianapolis to play Butler April 23 and 25.

“Putting together this year’s schedule was very challenging for a number of reasons,” women’s lacrosse head coach Meredith Black said in a statement. “It’s going to be a new experience but an exciting one. There’s a lot of emotion going into those conference games, and whether you win or lose the first game, we’ll get the opportunity to play each team again right away.”

Golf tees off its season with BIG EAST Match Play in Belleair, Florida, Jan. 31 to Feb. 2. Head coach Steve Bailey and his squad head to The Prestige Feb. 14-16, Valspar Collegiate March 14-16, CalUSA Invite April 3-6 and Hawkeye Invitational April 16-18 before the postseason — with BIG EAST Championship on April 29 to May 2 and the NCAA Regionals beginning May 16-19.

Track and field has yet to release a schedule.

Tennis programs made their return to the court Jan. 22 for the men’s side and Jan. 24 for the women’s team. The Golden Eagles haven’t been in action since March 10, 2020 for the women’s team and March 12, 2020 for the men’s team due to COVID-19 cutting the 2019-20 season short and canceling fall 2020 competition.

“It’s been a long few months and there is still plenty of work to do, but our (players) are extremely excited to get back on the court,” Steve Rodecap, director of tennis, said in a statement.

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