Volleyball prepares for Dayton in NCAA Tournament

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Photo by Collin Nawrocki

Marquette volleyball after being selected to the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

A year after Marquette volleyball missed out on the NCAA tournament, the 2021 Selection Show brought different news: it sent the Golden Eagles (26-5 overall, 16-2 BIG EAST) to Purdue for a first-round matchup against the University of Dayton (25-5 overall, 16-0 Atlantic 10) Dec. 2 at 3:30 p.m.

“With everything that has gone on over the course of the last two years, I’m happy our players get the opportunity to go back and be in the NCAA tournament,” head coach Ryan Theis said.

Due to a 3-0 loss Saturday afternoon to Creighton and missing out on a BIG EAST Tournament title for the fifth straight year, the Golden Eagles were selected to the Field of 64 as an at-large bid.

The Flyers and Holloway Gymnasium are familiar opponents and sites for the Golden Eagles, as they faced Dayton in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Purdue.

In that matchup, Marquette swept Dayton in straight sets to advance to the second round of the tournament where they lost to Purdue.

Redshirt junior Katie Schoessow, one of the players on Marquette’s team in 2019, said she remembers quite a bit about matching up with Dayton.

“There’s actually a lot of similar players on Dayton’s team that we had played against (in 2019) and from what I remember they’re a great team, it’s gonna be a great matchup,” Schoessow said.  “They’re tough servers, tough attackers, great defenders so it’s a pretty fair matchup and we’re excited to see somebody else outside of the BIG EAST.”

Despite playing in her seventh and final year of volleyball, Thursday’s game will be graduate student Savannah Rennie’s first NCAA Tournament game in her career.

“I’m really excited to really leave all I have out there right now because this is my last go,” Rennie said. “I’m really excited to do it with this team especially and I’m really ready to get after it,” Rennie said.

Marquette is 26-5 overall and trying to get back to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2018. As a program, heading to the postseason is not a new feat. Marquette volleyball has appeared in the NCAA Tournament nine of the last 10 seasons.

With the loss due to knee injuries of graduate student Hope Werch and redshirt sophomore Hannah Vanden Berg, the Golden Eagles will have to rely on their younger players in this tournament run.

Schoessow said that for the younger players and the team as whole, they need to treat this like any other game.

“We just got to take it game by game, point by point and match by match ” Schoessow said. “We need to be confident; I think our tendency is to freak out in these situations but it’s just like any other game and I think we just need to roll with it and play confident and play Marquette volleyball.”

If Marquette advances, the Golden Eagles will take on the winner of No. 6 Purdue and Wright State. But first Theis said in order to have a good run in this tournament, his squad needs more practice.

“We’ll get a little bit more practice, this week obviously we have a different lineup than we had two weeks ago, three weeks ago, 15 weeks ago, so we need more time with them,” Theis said. “I like to prepare; I think this group has some really nice pieces and we’re just looking for the glue to put it back together.”

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