Women’s volleyball misses NCAA Tournament for first time in 11 years, prepares for next season

Marquette+volleyball+missed+the+NCAA+Tournament+for+the+first+time+in+head+coach+Ryan+Theis%27s+tenure.++%28Photo+courtesy+of+Marquette+Athletics.%29

Marquette volleyball missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in head coach Ryan Theis’s tenure. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

After losing in the conference championship for the second year in a row, the Marquette women’s volleyball team’s only option to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament was to receive a bid. Unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, they did not receive one of the 48 spots available for the tournament, which officially ended their 2020 season. This was the first time in 11 years that Marquette failed to make the tournament.

Even though he was disappointed with not making the tournament, head coach Ryan Theis had no issues with the selection committee’s decision to not include the Golden Eagles, and he was not surprised by the decision either.

“We came within a couple of points of being up 2-1 (on Creighton) for a chance to go, to be one of the top 48 selected,” Theis said. “Too many of those balls did not go our way (and) too many of the hurdles got in our way including multiple pauses throughout the year. Too many of those things added up throughout the year and contributed to us not getting it done.”

There has been no question that this year has been very difficult for both coaches and players. For graduate student and right side hitter and setter Taylor Wolf as well as graduate student and middle blocker Savannah Rennie, dealing with the uncertainty regarding COVID-19 tests and dealing with the virus was challenging.

“I think (the hardest part was) just the ups and downs of being in the unknown all the time, never really knowing if someone would test positive (for COVID-19) or not and to try to take advantage of the time we got in the gym together,” Wolf said.

A daily COVID-19 test during the season was the hardest part for Rennie, waiting to not only to hear if she came back negative, but her teammates as well.

“The uncertainty everyday, every COVID test, it’s the matter of what are those going to come back as,” Rennie said.  “Every time you take a COVID test you just don’t know.”

The year ending the way it did was disappointing for the team, but for sophomore Claire Nuessmeier, not winning the conference championship, as well as not getting a tournament bid, is a spur of motivation, giving her a chip on her shoulder.

“As soon as the season was done I was ready to be back on the court practicing,” Nuessmeier said. “I don’t want to wait.”

As of April 10, the Golden Eagles are expected to return the full team from this past year. The team will even be adding in four new recruits, including first-year setter Ella Foti. Foti, who was on the roster this year, was ineligible to play.

Nuessmeier said that the return of the team is one of the reasons why she is excited for the fall 2021 season.

“I think we got a really good group of girls, we get to keep everybody. I’ve got really good friends on this team,” Nuessmeier said. “Volleyball has brought just so many good people together and it’s really nice that we don’t have to say any goodbyes after this season and that definitely made what happened at the selection show a little less bitter. I think we’re all just really fired up to get going.”

This story was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at jackson.gross@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JacksonGross6.