Golden Eagles Topple Xavier in Four Sets
Nov. 2, 2013
CINCINNATI – Despite a sluggish opening frame, the Marquette University women’s volleyball team rallied for a 21-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-21 win at Xavier on Saturday evening at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.
“We certainly weren’t taking Xavier for granted, we just weren’t able to dig down and get what we needed to get on the road," Marquette head coach Bond Shymansky said. "The 'four C’s' for our group that we always talk about are: communicate, cover your hitter, celebrate and compete; and those just didn’t show up early on. Xavier really took it to us in the first set and their defense was phenomenal tonight. They were digging up everything and it kind of wore out our hitters in some ways.”
Freshman outside Nele Barber notched a match-high 20 kills for the Golden Eagles (17-5, 9-1 BIG EAST), who open a two-match lead in conference play with the victory over the Musketeers. In addition to Barber’s 20 kills, MU received 13 kills from classmate Autumn Bailey, 11 kills from Meghan Niemann and 10 from Lindsey Gosh.
"It was really Meghan Niemann who sparked that competitive edge in our group and showed her animalistic side," Shymansky said. "She took over the energy of the match and went to a place that we really needed in terms of hitting leadership. Obviously Nele was fantastic again on the outside and Autumn was terminal as well. Lindsey Gosh was super efficient and Meghan was doing everything she could to hit the ball hard."
Libero Julie Jeziorowski picked up the slack for MU’s blockers with a season-high 30 digs, just one shy of her career high. It is the most any MU player has recorded since Jeziorowski had 31 on Sept. 3, 2011 against Northern Illinois.
"It was really our defense that kept grinding away and gave us opportunities," Shymansky said of MU which notched a season-high 95 digs. "Bisky (Koberstein) set a really good and smart game and was working hard to keep the tempo fast against their block."
Senior setter Elizabeth Koberstein paced Marquette to a .256 attack percentage with 47 assists and added 18 digs.
Freshman outside Abbey Bessler led Xavier (16-9, 7-3 BIG EAST) with 15 kills, with Alex Blair (11 kills) and Sarah Brown (12 kills) also reaching double digits. Setter Aubree Smith notched 46 assists and 22 digs in the loss.
Xavier never trailed throughout the first set on its way to a 25-21 win while hitting .333 (17-2-45). Bessler and Sarah Brown each notched five kills for the Musketeers in the first, while Gosh and Barber each had five for MU.
The Golden Eagles were able to right the ship in the second set with a 25-23 victory to knot the match at the break. Barber added another five kills in the second, including three on MU’s final three points of the frame after Xavier led 22-21 late.
“The second set was huge for us to come through in the end and Nele Barber had two big kills right at the end that we really need to finish it out," Shymansky said. "The third and fourth sets were grinds and the whole way through they did not go away."
Marquette was able to claim its largest victory of the night in the third set with a 25-18 victory while limiting the Musketeers to a .162 hitting percentage. The Golden Eagles broke free from a 12-12 tie with a 7-1 run to take full control of the frame and never looked back.
Both teams exchanged 5-0 runs in the fourth frame, but it was ultimately the Golden Eagles who pulled out late points to ensure a 25-21 victory. A Bailey kill gave MU its first lead since 5-4 at 19-18 and MU held on for the win.
"I’m proud of this group to be in the position that they are in right now and striving and working so hard to finish off this season with big moments left in front of us," Shymansky said. "We are in first place right now in the BIG EAST, but we want to finish in first place so we have a lot of work left to do. We need a little more stable production out of our team and not have these lulls of intensity or emotion. It was a great weekend for us on the road that was a significant travel pairing in both Butler and Xavier. We will have a big challenge with them when they come back to our place later this month."
Marquette returns home for a pair of matches next weekend. The Golden Eagles will face Seton Hall on Friday, Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. before taking on St. John’s on Sunday, Nov. 10 at 2 p.m.