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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette volleyball defeats Ball State, Georgia Tech to advance to regional semifinals of NCAA Tournament

Photo by Keifer Russell
Marquette women’s volleyball defeated Georgia Tech 3-0 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Sweet 16.

The NCAA Volleyball Tournament got started in Milwaukee Dec. 1 as the sun set down Wisconsin Avenue and over the Al McGuire Center.

Georgia Tech had the opening serve as the second game of the entire NCAA Tournament got underway for a matchup between Georgia Tech and Wright State. The temperature in Milwaukee was 37.4 degrees while it was 53.6 degrees in Atlanta.

“It’s definitely colder than we’re used to,” Georgia Tech senior middle blocker Erin Moss said.

When the opening serve came down, it was an ace for senior outside hitter Julia Bergmann. The Yellow Jackets then scored the next four points as well and started the game up 5-0.

“I think for us it was really important because we felt like the serve receive was one of the strengths from Wright State,” Georgia Tech head coach Michelle Collier said. “It gave us a little confidence that ‘Hey, we can get them out of system, we can do some of these things and then the game just kind of got into the flow from there.'”

Georgia Tech ended up taking the first set 25-13. The players wore white sleeveless jerseys with a gold honeycomb print.

The second set was a lot of quick points for Georgia Tech as they led 15-8. This was before a rotation error which was to the comedic relief of some neutral fans situated in the student section.

Wright State’s fans who made the trip to Milwaukee were undeterred as they cheered for the Raiders from sections 114 and 115 of the Al McGuire Center. They chanted ‘lets go Raiders’ in unison throughout the match, but also sporadically.

“They’ve been there all season,” Wright State head coach Travers Green said. “Our parents travel. … They tailgate before matches and they travel well. It makes it special and it’s helped us a lot this season.”

Georgia Tech won the second set and went into the third looking for a sweep.

The Raiders started out with a 4-2 lead as a fan barked in excitement.

“We went out there playing for each other,” Wright State junior outside hitter Sam Ott said. “Our seniors, that could possibly be their last set.”

Georgia Tech took control going into the media timeout when it led 15-10. The Yellow Jackets continued to dominate and made it to set point.

Throughout the entire game, there were seven people in the Georgia Tech sections standing the whole match. They had gold pom moms and were cheering the whole way.

“Those would be our parents,” Georgia Tech junior setter Isabella D’Amico said. “Having them be here (to) support us, it’s kind of like we’re at home a little bit.”

At match point, more Georgia Tech fans stood up, with one finger in the air and moved their arms in circles. They’d stay standing for a couple points before Tech won the set 25-17 and moved onto the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The match ended at 5:15 p.m., over an hour before the first serve of No. 4 seed Marquette versus Ball State.

Marquette students had the student sections packed before the opening serve and we’re showing their enthusiasm with screaming and cheering. Amongst them was Iggy wearing Marquette themed overalls.

Ball State had the first serve as its fans located in sections 111 and 112 looked on and supported them.

“We’ve had such a great following all year. Our parents support has been phenomenal from day one,” Ball State head coach Kelli Miller Phillips said. “Not only the players bought in, the parents are bought in, the families are bought in. We’re all just enjoying the moment and understand that you don’t just get to be here, you earn it.”

The first set was close with neither team gaining much of a lead. Marquette wasn’t settled in, but took the first set 25-20.

“It’s been a while since we’ve known so little about an opponent,” Marquette head coach Ryan Theis said. “Thankfully our passers really kind of kept us in it and then Yadhi (Anchante) distributing really evenly kept them pretty off balance. We were able to do our stuff without knowing too much about them.”

Marquette gave up the first point of the second set before going on a 3-0 run as Marquette fans wearing different shades of blue and gold looked on. There were points and rallies early in the set that got prolonged by diving digs and athletic efforts.

“It changes the momentum of the game,” Marquette junior middle blocker Carsen Murray said. “Especially when you win the point after a huge save, because it keeps things exciting. We all get so pumped up.”

The Golden Eagles finished out the set strong as Marquette sophomore setter Ella Foti finished the set with an ace.

They were able to keep that momentum going in the third set as they opened with a 7-1 lead before the Cardinals responded with a 3-0 scoring run of their own.

Later in the set while holding a lead Marquette senior defensive specialist Carly Skrabak was late getting to a dig and sent it over the scorers table and into the stands.

She reacted in frustration and competitiveness by pounding the taraflex court. Skrabak finished the match with 13 digs and would head into Friday’s match eight away from 500 on the season.

Marquette ended the match on a 3-0 run and in similar fashion to the second set, with an ace. The Golden Eagles finished the match with nine service aces to six service errors. Ball State was one of the best teams in terms of receiving and passing to which Theis recalled a bracket based on that which would’ve sent Ball State to the NCAA Championship.

“They’re a really good serve-pass team,” Theis said. “I think we out served and passed them.”

With the win No. 4 seed Marquette was on to play No. 5 seed Georgia Tech with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line.

Day two of the NCAA Tournament started sunny before the sun was hidden behind the clouds and it became dark ahead of the match between the Golden Eagles and Yellow Jackets.

Georgia Tech came out in its navy uniforms while Marquette came out looking to strike gold with its play in their uniforms that followed suit.

The student section on the south side of the Al was ready for the game, as more and more students piled in along with other fans. At the opening serve Iggy was back in his overalls with a front row seat in the student section before the match that would send one team to the Sweet 16.

More Georgia Tech fans appeared Friday than Thursday and were ready to watch their Yellow Jackets from sections 104 and 105 with the majority being in 104. They were loud from the jump, even before the first serve.

“We’re definitely very grateful for our extended family,” Collier said. “We have a few international kids so their families can’t be here all the time and these families really embrace them, make them feel at home, make them feel supported, make them feel loved. They cheer for their daughter just as much as they cheer for the person next to them.”

The match got started and Georgia Tech got out to a quick 6-2 lead including three kills from Georgia Tech senior outside hitter Julia Bergmann.

Marquette answered quickly with a 5-0 run and the serving pressure put on by Foti which included an ace to take a 9-8 lead. Georgia Tech came back and retook the lead in a set that had 15 ties. One such tie came from a block by Marquette sophomore middle blocker Hattie Bray to which she celebrated with pointing both pointer fingers to the sky.

It remained tight, tied at 23 and Georgia Tech fans yelled “Lets Go Tech” as loud as they could.

The Golden Eagles won the set with a solo block from Marquette sophomore outside hitter Jenna Reitsma.

Marquette opened the second set on a 3-0 and ran away with the set before the Yellow Jackets tied it at nine. The Golden Eagles picked up their pace even with their being multiple challenges in the set. In the final challenge of the set Marquette fans decided to do the wave, going round and round the Al McGuire Center. They’d win the set 25-20 and look to send Georgia Tech home.

Once again Marquette opened the third set on big run, taking an early 7-1 lead. The Golden Eagles never trailed or were tied in the final frame. Marquette kept their spirits high even during a Georgia Tech challenge as they danced to the song YMCA.

“I feel like we were standing for like five minutes sometimes,” Bray said.

Murray and Foti combined for a block to give Marquette a 20-14 lead and Murray yelled out “lets go” many times.

At match point, 24-16, Marquette fans were on their feet raising their hands to the sky with one finger held high. They’d have to wait to celebrate as Georgia Tech went on a 3-0 before Marquette won the set and won the match, handing Georgia Tech their first loss via sweep on the entire season.

Marquette fans stayed in their spots and on their feet for minutes after the match cheering for Marquette like they’d done all season as the Golden Eagles finished the season undefeated at home for the first time in program history.

There was more history as well as Marquette was onto its second Sweet 16 ever. This means there will be another banner hanging from the rafters in the northeast side of the Al McGuire Center amongst the countless banners for men’s and women’s basketball.

“One thing for me is when we walk into the Al you see all those banners on the wall and it’s basketball and like the Al and all this cool stuff,” Bray said. “We got our little section in the corner. It’s really cool that we’re adding to that and we get to make our section bigger and show what this program is all about.”

This article was written by Ben Schultz. He can be reached at b[email protected] Twitter @benschultz52.


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About the Contributor
Keifer Russell
Keifer Russell, Staff Photographer
Keifer Russell is a junior from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin studying digital media and public relations and is a Staff Photographer of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. Outside of the Wire he enjoys rock climbing, photography (figures), as well as finding and listening to new music. He is very excited to further refine his photographic content over the next year

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