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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette’s historic volleyball season in review

Photo by Alex DeBuhr
Marquette volleyball won a program record 29 wins in the 2022 season.

It was a historic season for the Marquette women’s volleyball team.

The Golden Eagles went 29-4 overall on the year, which is the most wins they’ve had in a season since 1986 as a Division I team. Of those 29 wins, 18 came at home while the four losses all came on the road.

Marquette came into the season without some familiar faces as Hope Werch, Taylor Wolf, Savannah Rennie, Katie Schoessow, Claire Mosher, Kaitlyn Lines and Ellie Koontz had all graduated. They lost four starters out of those seniors and the Big East Player of the Year in Wolf.

In the transfer portal, Marquette brought in junior outside hitter Aubrey Hamilton and sophomore setter Yadhira Anchante, both of which were starters from day one. To go along with that, there were five first-year players joining the team.

Marquette opened its season against then-No. 11 Kentucky on the road and got the upset.

Hamilton had 18 kills, seven digs and two total blocks in her first match as a Golden Eagle.

Marquette Head Coach Ryan Theis saw she was capable right away.

“I don’t know if we’ve had a physical left side blocker like her,” Theis said to the Marquette Wire in September.

Hamilton ultimately finished the year leading Marquette in kills per set with 3.45 and found herself on the All-Big East Team.

After defeating upsetting Kentucky and sweeping Ohio, Marquette jumped into the AVCA rankings where they’d be for the rest of the season. Marquette would be ranked as low as No. 24 and as high as No. 14.

The Golden Eagles’ first loss of the season was against then-No. 6 Wisconsin on the road. Marquette lost the opening set in the match before winning the second and starting the third set hot before a 13-3 run for Wisconsin took the wind out of Marquette’s sails.

They responded by going on a 13-game winning streak including a notable win against then-No. 25 Illinois.

Sophomore middle blocker Hattie Bray came into the season not having played a single point in her first year on campus as she had redshirted.

Bray proved to be a key piece for Marquette as she found her footing and started all but one game. She was named to the All-Big East Team and the All-Freshman Team. On the season, Bray averaged 2.16 kills per set and had 85 blocks. Her .354 hitting percentage is the ninth-highest in a single season in Marquette history.

Sophomore setter Ella Foti also joined Bray on the Big East All-Freshman team. This year Foti reconnected with her high school teammate, first-year outside hitter Natalie Ring, and they brought their connection to the big stage when Foti set Ring up for her first career kill.

Foti ended up hitting from the outside position for most of the season with Anchante as the primary setter. Foti averaged 2.21 kills per set, 0.26 aces per set and 1.21 digs per set while hitting .306 on the season.

Marquette lost both of its starting setters and brought in Anchante, a two-time NJCAA Division I National Player of the Year.

“Meghan (Keck, former assistant coach) saw her and said ‘I think she’s pretty good, I think there’s something there’ and if you know Meghan she is very, very picky about setting, so the fact that Meghan thought yes, maybe. For me it was hands down, she’s going to be pretty good,” Theis said after the win over Georgia Tech.

Anchante was the 2022 BIG EAST Volleyball Setter of the Year and was named to the All-Big East Team. In Big East play she averaged 11.35 assists per set which was tied for first in the conference. Anchante also averaged 0.33 aces per set, one kill per set and 2.75 digs per set.

The Golden Eagles’ 13-game win streak came to an end against then-No. 21 Creighton Oct. 14. In that game senior outside hitter Hannah Vanden Berg made her return to the court after tearing her ACL and meniscus in a practice the previous season.

“I didn’t know that she’d be back,” Theis said to the Marquette Wire in November. “She could have given up, she could have said ‘Okay well I’ll graduate and work out a fifth year here, (or) somewhere else, this year is not possible.’ She didn’t do that at all.”

Marquette got its revenge a couple of weeks later when they swept then-No. 11 Creighton to win a share of the Big East title in back-to-back years.

“Just about everybody that I know in my 20 years of volleyball, in the Marquette area, is here tonight,” Theis said following the win. “It’s great to have a pretty volleyball-savvy crowd too. Knowing what’s going on and when to cheer to help us.”

Junior middle blocker Carsen Murray and sophomore outside hitter Jenna Reitsma were also named to the All-Big East Team.

The five selections to the All-Big East Team were a program high.

Murray, who was Marquette’s lone selection to the preseason All-Big East Team, made history this season by being the second player in program history to finish the season hitting over .400. She finished the year hitting .416 while averaging 2.28 kills per set and 1.08 blocks per set.

Reitsma came into the season with seven starts under her belt and started all 33 matches. In those matches, she averaged 2.7 kills per set and 2.67 digs per set. Reitsma also had 50 aces on the season, good enough for the 12th most in a single season in program history.

The Golden Eagles went to Omaha, Nebraska for the Big East Tournament where they won their first-round matchup against UConn before losing to Creighton in the championship in a five-set thriller.

Marquette then waited for its name to be called during the NCAA Volleyball Tournament Selection Show, to which it was announced that it’d be hosting the first and second rounds for the first time since 2018. The Golden Eagles went on to sweep both Ball State and Georgia Tech on their way to the Sweet 16 for the second time in program history.

In the Sweet 16, Marquette played No. 1 seed Texas and lost 3-1.

The Golden Eagles were never swept and won every single game they played on their home court, for the first time in program history.

Senior defensive specialist Carly Skrabak is the one starter not coming back next season as she’s transferring to Cincinnati, but she left her mark on the team as a leader and defender. She finished the season with 512 digs which is the 10th most in a season in program history. Skrabak is transferring to get her master’s.

“I want to thank Ryan and the whole coaching staff for supporting me as I navigated the transfer portal this fall,” Skrabak said in a statement in November. “I am grateful for my time at Marquette and all of the memories and relationships I’ve made over the past three years.

“It’s crazy to think about the person and athlete I was before I came and who I am now. I am thankful for everyone around me who made my experience so enjoyable and has shaped me into who I am now. Not everyone can say they loved every part of their college career, but I know with the experiences I’ve had that I hit the jackpot being at Marquette.”

Skrabak’s words are what helped Marquette win the third set against Texas on Thursday.

“We have Carly Skrabak who is our senior libero and she came in after the second set, the two minutes and 30 seconds we had, and gave us a helluva speech and I don’t know what, but it lit a fire and we came back fighting,” Bray said after the loss to Texas.

The season is now over, but Theis said he is happy for the team and looking forward to coaching them next season.

“I’m just really proud of our team for the year that they’ve had. Excited so many are coming back,” Theis said after the loss to Texas.

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

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