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The student news site of Marquette University

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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

FAST FIVE: What to watch for in No. 1 Wisconsin vs. Marquette

Photo by Katie Craig
Marquette celebrates after a point in the Golden Eagles’ 3-0 loss to the Tennessee Volunteers.

We are one day away from No. 1 Wisconsin versus Marquette at Fiserv Forum Wednesday night.

The Golden Eagles (2-5) are coming off two straight losses at home and are looking to win their first game against a ranked opponent.

Here are five things to watch for during the game:

1. Marquette’s defense with Murray

The Badgers have an elite offense.  

Senior outside hitter Sarah Franklin has been a force to be reckoned with all season long, putting up double-figure kills in all but one of Wisconsin’s matches.

When Marquette played against Western Kentucky’s fifth-year outside hitter Paige Briggs, it was clear just how much the unplanned loss of senior middle blocker Carsen Murray had impacted the team.

But, Murray is back from injury and has been impactful upon her return.

Against Purdue and Kansas, she hit .325 — the highest of anyone else on Marquette across those two games — and earned 10 block assists. Against Pitt and Tennessee, she hit .225.

How head coach Ryan Theis sets up his defense to handle the high-powered Wisconsin attack is a crucial piece to whether or not the Golden Eagles will win the game.

2. Can the Golden Eagles find their offensive strength of last year?

Marquette finished last season with the No. 9 offense in the country, and it returned its offensive juggernauts. From 2022 Big East Setter of the Year Yadhira Anchante, to the outside hitting duo of Jenna Reitsma and Aubrey Hamilton, the Golden Eagles had a large returning core.

But, at the start of the season, the offense lagged in replicating what it was able to accomplish last year and there has been a lot of inconsistencies.

Marquette was unable to hit above .200 in its first two games against Western Kentucky and Drake. The Golden Eagles then turned it around in their next three matches, hitting over .200 against Dayton, Purdue and Kansas.

Against Pitt, Marquette hit .050. Against Tennessee it hit .247.

Given Marquette’s firepower and Theis’ offensive-savvy mind, the potential to heat up on the attack is there. Whether or not it lives up to that potential is another match-defining story.

3. How will Marquette deal with Wisconsin’s transfers?

The Golden Eagles played the Badgers in Madison last year and lost 3-1

But Wisconsin added to its already talented squad with the additions of graduate student outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara and sophomore middle-blocker Carter Booth. So, the team Marquette will face Wednesday is not the same team it faced a year ago.

Thomas-Ailara was a 2022 AVCA Second-Team All-American and three-year First-Team All-Big Ten honoree while at Northwestern. This season, she has started in three matches and played in 17 sets. She has hit .279 and ranks second on the team with 2.35 kills per set.

6-foot-7 Booth, who came from Minnesota, was named to the 2022 Big Ten All-Freshman Team and has made an early impact at Wisconsin. Starting in games, she leads the team with 36.0 blocks and a .500 hitting percentage, which also ranks third in the Big Ten.

These are two new impactful faces that Marquette needs to prepare for and will be a handful come game time.

4. A Wisconsin-heavy crowd

Even though the match takes place at Fiserv Forum, less than a mile from Marquette’s campus, the crowd Wednesday could be filled with Wisconsin fans.

The Golden Eagles have played two games at home and the rest on the road, but if the Badger fans make the drive from Madison, there will be a lot of red in the crowd.

Marquette beat then-No. 11 Kentucky in Kentucky last year, so it knows how to win in hostile environments, but the Golden Eagles have never played in a near-sold out Fiserv before.

If 12,000+ fans are wearing red and white, it will be a level unlike anything this Marquette squad has ever played in.

5. Will the Golden Eagles be able to respond to runs? 

Marquette has had issues giving up runs to teams all season long.

Against the Boilermakers, the Golden Eagles gave up three straight points when they only needed to score one to win. In every set against Tennessee, Marquette gave up at least a 3-0 run and had no response to it.

The Badgers will put together long strings of points Wednesday. They have been doing it all year and no one has been able to stop them. If Marquette wants any shot at earning its third win of the year, it will need to have an answer for when Wisconsin goes on an offensive tear.

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 Contributors
Jack Albright
Jack Albright, Assistant Sports Editor
Jack Albright is a junior from Charlton, Massachusetts studying journalism. He is an Assitant Sports Editor for the 2024-2025 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.
Katie Craig
Katie Craig, Staff Photographer
Katie is a Staff Photographer at the Wire. She is a first-year from Lakeville, MN studying digital media and minoring in advertising. In her free time, Katie enjoys photography and hanging out with her friends. This year Katie is looking forward to getting to know more people and improving her photography skills.

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