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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Ranked teams dominate upcoming slate

Four of Marquette volleyball’s next six opponents are ranked. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Marquette volleyball knew it had a gauntlet non-conference schedule to get through this season.

So far, the No. 24 Golden Eagles have played then-No. 24 Western Kentucky, No. 20 Purdue and No. 22 Kansas. They sit 0-3 against ranked teams and 2-3 overall.

And it is not going to get any easier.

Four of Marquette’s next six matches will be against teams in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Three of those opponents were seeded higher than the Golden Eagles and one of them (Pitt) went to the Final Four in Omaha, Nebraska, losing to the runner-up in five sets. The other two (Wisconsin and Oregon) made it to the Elite Eight.

When crafting the schedule during the offseason, head coach Ryan Theis said it wasn’t necessarily a goal of his to make it that difficult, and things just happened to fall into place.

The Golden Eagles have known about the game against the Badgers Sept. 13 at Fiserv Forum since Dec. 2022. Theis also knew he wanted to play at Kansas to see senior middle blocker Carsen Murray’s family.

No. 18 Tennessee is making the trip up to Milwaukee to play Marquette Sept. 10. No. 9 Pitt will also be at the Al McGuire Center Friday night for the first installment of a home-and-home series.

No. 6 Oregon, led by Wisconsin native Matt Ulmer, is heading east to Pittsburgh and will be stopping by the Al Sept. 17 on its way home for the Golden Eagles’ final non-conference matchup.

“It just kept getting tougher and tougher,” Theis said. “As that was happening, I actually was touching base with the team and seeing if they were up for the challenge. Every time, they said yes, so here we are with a tough schedule in front of us.”

Junior outside hitter Jenna Reitsma said she is excited for the prospect of playing notable teams like Pitt and Oregon.

“It’s just a good test right out at the front of the season to play against those teams and get a good look into some big matches,” Reitsma said. “Through conference (play) and after when we hopefully make the NCAA Tournament and continue on, we’ll see more teams just like them. So it’ll be a good taste to have at the beginning of the year.”

But the marquee matchup for Marquette is the first-ever volleyball game at Fiserv Forum against No. 1 Wisconsin.

“Just to see that many people in attendance, that big of a building. None of us have played in somewhere like that before,” Reitsma said. “So that’ll be a really fun, exciting environment to play in.”

Murray said she is also excited for the Fiserv game and that it will be an “unreal experience” to play in an NBA arena packed with fans.

Right now, the entire lower bowl of Fiserv Forum is sold out with some tickets remaining in the upper sections.

With the most difficult schedule in Ryan Theis’ 10 years at the helm of the Golden Eagles, the team is relying on their large returning core and experience playing with each other to get through it.

After all, there is no backing out now.

“We really have been able to bond and create a really good system that we know can be really successful,” Reitsma said. “It’s a lot of just building upon the strengths that we’ve already found as a group, and getting better and better at that and adjusting to each opponent we play throughout the year.”

This story was written by Jack Albright. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @JackAlbrightMU.

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About the Contributor
Jack Albright
Jack Albright, Executive Sports Editor
Jack Albright is a sophomore from Charlton, Massachusetts studying journalism. He is the Executive Sports Editor of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-24 school year. In his free time, Jack likes to hang out with friends and watch Formula 1. He is excited to write fun stories about all things Marquette athletics and oversee new types of digital content.

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