Marquette falls in five sets to ISU

Senior Taylor Wolf serves the ball against ISU (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Senior Taylor Wolf serves the ball against ISU (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

In some Saturday afternoon volleyball, the Marquette Golden Eagles and the Illinois State Redbirds went the distance as the Redbirds took home the win in five sets (25-13, 21-25, 25-17, 16-25, 16-14).

Illinois State dominated early with two 5-0 runs in the first set winning the set 25-13. The Redbirds hit .400. Head coach Ryan Theis cited Illinois State’s serving strategies and his team not executing.

“They had very specific serve strategies that we actually practiced in the morning expecting them to do it and we just didn’t execute it,” Theis said. “We think they’re serving a ball here, they served the ball there and we didn’t execute it.”

Marquette won the second set 25-21. Marquette hit at .222 and forced eight attack errors on Illinois State to go along with the three service errors they collected.

The set went back and forth with the score tied at 21 late but Marquette went on a 4-0 run to finish the set.

The Redbirds found their footing again in set three winning 25-17. It was a set of runs as Illinois State started the set on a 5-0, with Marquette responding with a 3-0 run before ISU pushing a 4-0 run right back. The Golden Eagles closed the gap in the middle of the set getting it to a 15-14 score, before ISU finished the set on a 10-3 run with four of those points coming on Martin kills. Martin finished with the match high of 22 kills, but also contributing with 12 digs.

That versatility according to coach Theis, is what makes Martin difficult to play against.

“Versatility hitting out of the back row, front row, playing good middle back defense, just a really good player,” Theis said.

Down two sets to one, Marquette battled in the fourth set winning 25-16. It was back and forth early, being tied six times through the first 12 points before the Golden Eagles outscored the Redbirds 13-4. MU had a team high four blocks in the set and held the Redbirds to a hitting percentage of .114 while the Golden Eagles hit .324.

Theis said having blocks on a consistent basis would be “helpful.”

“Those are point to get, we scored 21 points in that 4th, 19 typically a goal and so that block adds things that maybe we haven’t had in the past,” Theis said.

The final set came down to the wire, with nine ties and it coming down to a team winning by two by a score of 16-14. Marquette was down 13-10 before battling back to tie the game at 13 culminating with a block by sophomore Claire Nuessmeier. After a kill from sophomore Sarah Kushner was overturned by a coaches challenge from Theis, the Golden Eagles took a 14-13 lead. However, after two kills from Martin, a kill attempt from senior Hope Werch went out of bounds sealed the win for the Redbirds.

Theis said he “loved” the fight the team had in the fifth set to tie the game at 13 after being down nine to 11.

Senior Taylor Wolf shined in her second game with the Golden Eagles, leading the team in kills and digs with 11 and 16 respectively.

After the weekend split, Marquette will have the week to prepare to travel to Cedar Falls to take on the University of Northern Iowa Panthers Jan. 30.

“We’ll find out situations … where we can get better at and what wasn’t clean, what do we think can work, we have pieces, it’s just how we can do it when it’s gray,” Theis said. “(It was a) huge learning experience for us to play a super experienced team and we’ll look at what they exploited in us and try to improve on that.”

This story was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at or on Twitter @jacksongross6.