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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette volleyball had rollercoaster season

Photo by Katie Craig
Marquette’s match vs No. 1 Wisconsin in Fiserv Forum was the most-attended indoor regular season volleyball match.

Marquette volleyball’s season came to an end Friday after falling to No. 3 seed Purdue in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament.

The Golden Eagles went 21-11 overall and nine of their 11 losses came against ranked programs.

Marquette came into the season having lost only one starter in former libero Carly Skrabak and returning everyone else.

In the transfer portal, Marquette brought in graduate student libero Sarah Kushner, who played as an outside hitter for four years at Illinois State and was a starter for the Golden Eagles from day one.

“With Carly graduating, it seemed like it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to pick up a DS (defensive specialist), libero type,” head coach Ryan Theis said to the Marquette Wire before the season started. “She was willing to make that change for a fifth (year) to try and play at as high a level as she could.”

Theis also picked up defensive specialist Molly Berezowitz, the lone first-year on the team. She was also the serving specialist and finished the year with 30 aces.

First-year Molly Berezowitz grew up in the volleyball-crazed town of Burlington, Wisconsin. (Photo by Katie Craig)

High expectations and a shaky start

The Golden Eagles came into the season as the No. 12 team in the country — their highest preseason ranking in program history — and had a loaded non-conference schedule to contend with.

Marquette had to play seven teams in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Three of its opponents were ranked in the Top 10 of the AVCA Preseason Poll, five were in the Top 25 and two more teams (Kansas and Tennessee) received votes.

The Golden Eagles started their season in two invitational tournaments, going 2-1 in the Flyer Invitational and 0-2 in the Kansas Invitational.

After two weeks, Marquette dropped to No. 24 in the AVCA Coaches’ Poll.

Two losses later, Marquette would then have its toughest match of the season against then-No. 1 and undefeated Wisconsin in Fiserv Forum — the first-ever volleyball match to be played in Fiserv.

The game broke records with 17,037 fans in attendance, making it the most-attended NCAA women’s volleyball regular season indoor match.

“I had just about 20 3-year-olds waiting for me upstairs from my home team in Wautoma, and they all have these cute little shirts made with Hattie Bray on the back,” junior middle blocker Hattie Bray said after the game. “It was so awesome to see them all.”

The Golden Eagles would close out non-conference play with two wins and a loss, coming at the hands of Oregon. It was Marquette’s seventh loss against a ranked program.

“We got to turn the page today and (look) to the Big East play,” Theis said after the loss.

The volleyball team celebrates a point in its 3-1 loss to Wisconsin in Fiserv Forum. (Photo by Keifer Russell)

Bouncing back 

The Golden Eagles started Big East play dominant, going 7-0 and being the only undefeated team after one month. The run included a sweep over then-No. 15 Creighton, Marquette’s first ranked win of the season.

After beating the Bluejays, the Golden Eagles suffered a 3-2 loss at the St. John’s Red Storm, their first loss to an unranked opponent.

But Marquette got its revenge a couple of weeks later when it swept St. John’s to secure the No. 2-seed in the Big East Tournament. Junior primary right side Ella Foti — who had previously filled the setter role while Yadhira Anchante had appendicits — left the game early with an injury and would not return for the rest of the season.

The next day, the Golden Eagles won their third consecutive Big East regular season title.

“We really wanted to take care of this weekend and take care of business, because we want to win a championship in the Big East and that’s what we did tonight,” junior outside hitter Jenna Reitsma said after the game.

Marquette finished the regular season 20-9 overall and 16-2 in Big East play.

Volleyball celebrates after winning its third consecutive Big East regular season title. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Dominance across the board

Four Golden Eagles — Murray, Anchante, Bray and senior outside hitter Aubrey Hamilton — were named to the All-Big East Team and Hamilton was a unanimous selection.

Hamilton led Marquette in kills (434) and kills per set (3.77) and hit .274 on the year. She was the Big East Offensive Player of the Week Oct. 9 and had only six games with under 10 kills.

Anchante built off her sophomore season, finishing her junior year with 932 assists and being tied-second on the team in digs (290). Before she arrived, Theis ran a 6-2 (two setters), but now she is the lone controller of Marquette’s offense, a role in which she thrives. She has been able to share the wealth, overwhelm opposing defenses and grind out victories for the Golden Eagles.

“She really just spreads out the ball to a lot of the different hitters and just keeps us all really in rhythm throughout the rest of the match,” Reitsma said in a postgame presser in the NCAA Tournament.

Bray and Murray, Marquette’s two starting middle blockers, were both on this year’s All-Big East Preseason Team and lived up to the expectations. Bray earned a season-high 11 blocks in the Golden Eagles’ sweep over Villanova and hit .272 on the year. Murray finished the season averaging a team-high 1.12 blocks per set while hitting .374.

Senior outside hitter Aubrey Hamilton led Marquette with 434 kills and 3.77 kills per set. (Photo by Katie Craig)

A short-lived postseason

Marquette hosted the Big East Tournament, but fell to No. 3 seed St. John’s 3-2 in the semifinals.

The Golden Eagles then waited for their name to be called in the NCAA Tournament Selection Show, to which it was announced they’d be travelling to West Lafayette, Indiana for the first two rounds. Marquette went on to sweep Eastern Illinois — Theis’ first-ever coaching location — before falling 3-1 to Purdue.

“We made a whole lot of new volleyball fans over the course of the end of last year and this year out of the Marquette community, the Milwaukee area,” Theis said after the loss. “Our goal is to be nationally competitive and known in the country as a really strong volleyball team that people don’t want to play come tournament time. And I think this group is is really helping that goal.”

Senior middle blocker Anastasija Svetnik and Kushner are the only two players leaving the team.

This article 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.
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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