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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette onto Sweet 16 for first time since 2018

Photo by Keifer Russell
Sophomore defensive specialist Samantha Naber (23) celebrates from the sideline in Marquette volleyball’s 3-0 win over Georgia Tech in the second round of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament Dec. 2.

The Al McGuire Center is getting a new banner.

On Friday, No. 4 seed Marquette swept No. 5 seed Georgia Tech to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second time in program history, and they did so on their home floor in front of the 2,066 fans who stayed and celebrated for minutes after the final point.

“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,” sophomore middle blocker Hattie 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.”

When the banner goes up, it’ll be the fourth for volleyball and likely be placed next to the banner from their last appearance in the Sweet 16, which came in 2018.


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Marquette stormed through Ball State on Thursday night and then Georgia Tech on Friday, on its way to the Sweet 16. The sweep over the Yellow Jackets was the first time Georgia Tech lost in straight sets all season. 

“I feel we were out of character a little bit today, which is unfortunate because that’s not the match you want to be feeling like that,” Georgia Tech head coach Michelle Collier said. “We couldn’t execute what we wanted to do and felt that would give us the best chance of competing against them.”

Georgia Tech started the match on fire, taking a 6-2 lead before Marquette called timeout. Marquette answered back and took a 9-8 lead while on a 5-0 run doing so via an ace from sophomore setter Ella Foti.

“It was a bit jarring,” Marquette head coach Ryan Theis said. “I just loved the response.”

The set remained close as junior outside hitter Aubrey Hamilton came off the outside pin for a kill that gave Marquette a 13-12 lead. Marquette fans responded by yelling, “Go Marquette, WOO,” as they do after every Marquette point. They found themselves in a late deficit but closed the set on a 3-0 run as a solo block from sophomore outside hitter Jenna Reitsma put the icing on the cake as the Golden Eagles took the set 25-23.

They took that momentum into the second set and took an opening 3-0 lead.

“Just playing really well,” Theis said. “There’s just a whole lot of players playing with confidence. Momentum is a good pass or a good swing away.”

The set progressed, but not without any hiccups or delays, as there were three challenges. They made for long waits and dance parties from both benches.

As it came to the end, Marquette outscored the Yellow Jackets 6-3 en route to a second-set win by the score of 25-20.

Marquette dominated the third set and once again got out to an early 7-1 lead. The early deficit was too much for Georgia Tech to come back from, as they neither tied nor took a lead at any point in the set. Bray ended the match by totaling her eighth kill of the game, many of which were hit as if she has a cannon for an arm.

“We (the team) always make the joke because I grew up on a farm, that it’s my farm strength,” Bray said.

The Golden Eagles secured the sweep finishing the final frame with a score of 25-19.

Of Marquette’s 75 points in the victory, 17 came from Hamilton’s kills. It’s the most kills Hamilton has had in a Marquette sweep this season. Hamilton attributed some of the success in the match to the setting ability of Big East Setter of the Year, sophomore Yadhira Anchante.

“I always remember to set you (Hamilton) high,” Anchante said with a laugh.

Theis thought the way his team played on its way to the Sweet 16 was near the top of their performances of the season.

“That was some of the best volleyball we’ve played,” Theis said. “It was fun to watch these guys play it out.”

Making the Sweet 16 wasn’t the only history accomplished on Friday night inside the Al McGuire Center as senior defensive specialist Carly Skrabak became the 10th player in Marquette history to record over 500 digs in a single season.

“She’s amazing,” Bray said. “She’s such a good player and always has the best heart behind everything. She was the one that was always saying ‘no matter what happens next point, we need to put all our effort in.’ She has the best pep talks coming out of timeouts.”

Marquette hit .246 overall and held Georgia Tech to hitting .172 on their way to a program first undefeated season at home (18-0) and a date in Austin, Texas, with the No. 1 overall seed, the Texas Longhorns.

The Sweet 16 matchup is set for Dec. 8 in Gregory Gymnasium, which seats 4,000 people. It will start 30 minutes after Minnesota and Ohio State square off in their Sweet 16 match, starting at 11 a.m. CST.

Texas is 24-1 heading into the game and ranked No. 1 in the AVCA Division I Women’s Coaches Poll for 13 of the 15 weeks of the season.

“They’re pretty good. They’re pretty physical. I’m sure they’ll be comfortable in their home environment,” Theis said. “You just got to out-kill somebody because they’re gonna get theirs. …We just got to make ours happen, and hopefully, we can squeak out a couple of aces and blocks along the way.”

My Prediction

  • Texas wins, 3-1

This article was written by Ben Schultz. He can be reached at b[email protected] or on 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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