PREVIEW: Volleyball looks to rebound after last weekend with Marquette Invitational

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Photo by Collin Nawrocki

Taylor Wolf (10) sets up a pass in Marquette’s 0-3 loss to No. 8 Kentucky Sept. 11.

For the first time since 2019, Marquette volleyball is opening the doors of the Al McGuire Center this weekend for the Marquette Invitational.

This year’s field includes three teams, two of which have participated in the invitational before, the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Texas-San Antonio. While Wright State University is making their first appearance.

Following a 0-2 weekend vs No. 2 Wisconsin and No. 8 Kentucky, the Golden Eagles look to rebound themselves this weekend.

“Taking that loss, I think we’re going use that more as motivation for this coming weekend,” redshirt sophomore outside hitter Hannah Vanden Berg said. “Playing on our home court is always fun, it’s always an advantage.”

Marquette will get to play on its home court three times this weekend, with two of those games being on Friday.

This means the Golden Eagles will have to make some lineup adjustments along the way, so that they can stay ready and avoid potential injuries.

“We’ll have to be strategic with the way we play, some of our six rotation players, it’s probably the biggest concern with them,” Marquette head coach Ryan Theis said. “Is there situations we can get them some rest in the first match, or the second or even the third to try and avoid any stress related kind of injuries.”

With lineup adjustments and players playing who haven’t as much this year, redshirt junior outside hitter Ellie Koontz said the Golden Eagles will be successful if they just play a Marquette style of volleyball.

“This weekend we need to stay positive and just stay together as a team, play calm and collected Marquette volleyball,” Koontz said.

University of Texas-San Antonio (3-6), Sept. 17, noon CST

The Roadrunners are back in the Marquette Invitational for the first time since 2014. It was the only time that Marquette has played the Roadrunners and they were able to come out with the win, three sets to one.

In order to start the invitational off with a win, Theis said Marquette will have to be aggressive and successful from the service line.

“We’re gonna have to win the serve-pass against them,” Theis said. “You can get at them from the service line, if you can dazzle up their passers and get them out of system it’s going to be tough for them to score offensively.”

Last season the Roadrunner’s finished the year 7-11 and return all but two players, while adding four first-year’s and two transfers.

Mekaila Aupiu, setter, has been the first-year who’s seen the most time so fair this year. She’s played in 27 sets and is second on the team in assists with 123.

Key Players:

  • Through 31 sets, sophomore middle blocker Amanda Ifeanyi  has 31 total blocks with the next closest player having 14. Aside from the blocks Ifeanyi also has 50 kills while hitting .267 on the season.
  • Junior setter Courtney Walters is currently averaging 4.58 assists per set and has a total of 142 assists through nine games. Walters also has 63 digs on the season.
  • Graduate student outside hitter Hope Werch enters the weekend with 152 career aces. Having good serves and putting pressure on the Roadrunners is something Theis is looking for and could get from Werch.
  • Koontz has 40 kills on the season while hitting .282. Koontz is one of the first subs every set and with Theis changing the lineups around she may see more time on the court.

How to follow:

  • Watch: FloSports
  • Twitter Updates: @JacksonGrossMU and @MUWireSports

Wright State University (6-3), Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m. CST

In Friday night cap, Marquette will face Wright State University for the second time in program history.

Marquette will look to right the ship against Wright State after dropping their last matchup in 2002 in straight sets.

The Raiders return eight members that won back-to-back Horizon League titles the last two seasons.

Out of those returners, two were named to the Horizon League All-Tournament team last season. Fifth year player Nyssa Baker was Horizon League Tournament MVP and Celia Powers finished with 17 kills and 11 total blocks in the tournament.

However, the Raiders did lose Mallory Ladd from last year. Ladd was named to the Horizon League All-Tournament team last season.

Key Players:

  • Junior outside hitter Megan Alders is a force with kills for the Raiders. On the season Alders has 107 kills and is hitting .192. Her season high for kills this season is 23 which came against Marshall.
  • Senior setter Lainey Stephenson has 320 assists through 36 sets and is averaging 8.89 assists per set.
  • First-year outside hitter Jenna Reitsma provides Marquette with the ability to score points according to Theis. Given that they’re playing two games in one day she may be picked to play more.
  • Graduate student middle blocker Savannah Rennie has 41 total blocks on the season for Marquette and is also second on the team in kills with 75.

How to follow:

  • Watch: FloSports
  • Twitter Updates: @benschultz52 and @MUWireSports

University of Northern Iowa (4-6), Sept. 18, 6 p.m. CST

In the final game of the Marquette Invitational the Golden Eagles will take on the Panthers of Northern Iowa. This season the Panthers are 4-6 with have losses against Kentucky, Creighton, USC and Washington State.

Northern Iowa has no seniors on its roster but it does have four juniors and seven first-year players.

In the panthers four wins they’re averaging 45.5 kills in every win, whereas in their six losses they’re averaging 29.33.

Key Players: 

  • Sophomore outside hitter Emily Holterhaus earned first-team All-MVC selection last season. So far this season Holterhaus has 67 kills and 65 digs.
  • Junior middle blocker Carly Spies has 54 kills and 33 blocks for the Panthers.
  • Graduate student right side hitter Taylor Wolf is currently second on the team in assists and digs with 141 assists and 69 digs. Wolf also leads the Golden Eagles in kills with 81.
  • Redshirt junior setter Claire Mosher leads Marquette with 150 assists on the season.

How to follow:

  • Watch: Marquette University Television on YouTube
  • Twitter Updates: @benschultz52 and @MUWireSports

This story was written by Ben Schultz. He can be reached at benjamin.a.schultz@marquette.edu or on Twitter @benschultz52.