No. 4 seed Marquette is onto the Sweet 16 for the second time in program history after sweep over Georgia Tech

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Photo by Keifer Russell

Marquette volleyball swept Georgia Tech Friday Dec. 2 in the Al McGuire Center to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history.

No. 4 seed Marquette opened its doors to No. 5 seed Georgia Tech for a second round matchup and sent the Yellow Jackets home with a sweep (25-23, 25-20, 25-19) and Iggy bringing the broom.

The Golden Eagles are now onto their second Sweet 16 appearance in program history.

“Really really proud of our group,” Marquette head coach Ryan Theis said. “A little hiccup early in the third, but other than that, that was some of the best volleyball we’ve played.”

With the win in front of the home crowd, Marquette finishes the season undefeated at home, 18-0, for the first time in program history.

“It’s really cool,” sophomore middle blocker Hattie Bray said. “This is something we’ll take for the rest of our four or three years here.”

The first set opened with Georgia Tech getting out to a 6-2 lead with Yellow Jackets senior outside hitter Julia Bergmann having three kills on that run. Marquette subsequently called timeout. The Golden Eagles answered quickly with a 5-0 run to take a 9-8 lead.

“It was awesome,” junior outside hitter Aubrey Hamilton said. “I thought we persevered so well and we didn’t let a 2-6 beginning hold us.”

The set remained tight, with Georgia Tech taking a 23-22 lead. Marquette then scored the next three points, with sophomore outside hitter Jenna Reitsma getting a kill and a block to close the set and win it 25-23.

Marquette opened the second set how it closed the first, on a 3-0 run.

“We really tried to keep our momentum going,” Bray said. “The emotion coming out of the first set really helped us start strong in the second and the third.”

Georgia Tech didn’t go away and tied the set at nine when Marquette let the ball drop between three players. From then on there were three challenges, two from Marquette and one from Georgia Tech with Theis winning both after pulling out the green card and Georgia Tech head coach Michelle Collier losing her challenge.

During the challenge fans did the wave to pass the time and those on the floor for Marquette went back to play after hearing a consistent message.

“We ended every huddle after that with ‘No matter what happens, lets bring energy to the next point whether we win or lose.’ I think that was a big help,” Bray said.

Marquette then ended the set with kills from the two starting middles, Bray then junior middle blocker Carsen Murray to win the set 25-20. Murray finished the night with two kills, five blocks and two digs.

The third set opened with Marquette catching fire, taking a 7-1 lead. Hamilton accounted for five kills in that span. The Yellow Jackets fought back and went on a 3-0 run to bring the score to 7-4 and then the closest they’d get the rest of the set was within one point, 9-8.

Marquette never tied or trailed in the final set and were tied once in the final two frames. They went onto win the final set 25-19 as Marquette fans held one finger in the sky.

Junior outside hitter Aubrey Hamilton led the way for Marquette with 17 kills, seven digs, one ace and three blocks.

“She’d been pretty good for a couple weeks now, so we’ll hope to keep riding that arm as long as it’ll go,” Theis said.

Marquette hit .246 on the match while Georgia Tech hit .172.

Also contributing for Marquette was senior defensive specialist Carly Skrabak who had 10 digs to bring her season total to 502 and make her the 10th player in program history to accomplish the feat.

“She’s had a great year,” Theis said. “Her development since getting here has been terrific. … She didn’t feel she played well on Thursday night and said ‘hey maybe the bright side is Georgia Tech’s going to hit a bunch of balls at me, so I can play good tomorrow’ and I said ‘that’s a great way to look at it.'”

Marquette is now onto the Sweet 16 where it will head to Austin, Texas for a matchup against the No. 1 overall seed Texas.

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