PREVIEW: Marquette hosts Ball State in First Round of NCAA Tournament

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Photo by Alex DeBuhr

Marquette volleyball earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Volleyball Tournament. Golden Eagles are hosting the First and Second Rounds of the tournament for the first time since 2018.

The Road to Omaha officially begins tonight for the No. 4 seed Marquette volleyball team at the Al McGuire Center.

The Golden Eagles will play host to Ball State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. CST, in what will be Marquette’s first NCAA Tournament game on its home court since 2018.

“We’re excited about hopefully the crowd gets rocking, you know, and hope for awesome student turnout.” Head coach Ryan Theis said.I love the Thursday night feel. I think they’ll be excited to come. It’s a night hopefully they don’t have 10 exams on Friday and they’ll be ready to have some fun at our game.”

A Look at the Cardinals

Ball State comes into the night winning six of its last eight matches. The Cardinals won the Mid-American Conference Regular Season Title after going 24-8 overall and 15-3 in conference play.

The Cardinals entered the MAC Tournament as the No. 1 seed but fell to the No. 2 seed Bowling Green in five sets (25-23, 23-25, 23-25, 25-23 and 9-15)  in the championship game.

Senior middle blocker Marie Plitt and junior outside hitter Cait Synder combined for 30 of the 52 kills that Ball State had in the match.

As a team, the Cardinals were first in the MAC in hitting percentage (.251), digs per set (17.60) and finished fourth in service aces per set (1.44).

Sophomore setter Megan Wielonski was named as MAC Setter of the Year after putting up 10.82 assists per set, while also collecting 3.10 digs per set. Wielonski, along with Plitt and Snyder were named to the All-MAC First Team. Senior outside hitter Natalie Mitchem was named to the All-MAC Second Team.

It will be the first time since 1990 since the Golden Eagles will play the Cardinals and the first time since 2013 that Theis will play them, going back when he was the head coach at Ohio University.

It’s been a while since I’ve played against them, that’s for sure, I just keep getting older,” Theis said. But they’re a good team, their setters are really good. They’ve got a middle (Plitt) who’s incredibly efficient, very fast and probably unlike most middles that we’ve seen all year. I couldn’t necessarily pinpoint one that’s like her.”

Key Players

  • After collecting 16 double-doubles last year, Wielonski had 20 double-doubles this year, including four in her last five matches. In the championship game against Bowling Green, the Mason, Ohio native had 47 assists and 15 digs, while also putting up two blocks and a service ace.
  • Plitt was named to the MAC All-Tournament team after putting up 29 kills and five blocks, while hitting .419. During the season, the Loveland, Ohio native hit .407 while getting 2.66 kills per set.
  • In her first season at the Division I level, sophomore setter Yadhira Anchante won Big East Setter of the Year. Anchante finished with a stat line of  10.85 assists per set, 2.75 digs per set and had a total of 114 kills, which ranked sixth on Marquette.
  • Sophomore Jenna Reitsma set career high numbers across the board in 2022, putting up 279 kills, 291 digs while also hitting .205. Reitsma also led Marquette with 48 service aces, including seven aces in her final three matches of the season.

How to Follow

  • Watch: ESPN+
  • Radio: Jackson Gross and Nate Moore will have the call on Marquette University Radio.
  • Twitter Updates: @benschultz52 and @MUWireSports

This article was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JacksonGrossMU