Marquette Tops Pitt, 3-1, to Advance to BIG EAST Semis
Nov. 16, 2012
MILWAUKEE - The Marquette University women's volleyball team advanced to the semifinals of the BIG EAST Conference Women's Volleyball Championship for the third consecutive year after defeating the No. 7-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers 3-1 (25-14, 22-25, 25-23, 25-19) Friday evening at the Al McGuire Center.
Marquette, the tournament's second seed, earned its program-record 25th victory of the season and will face No. 6 seed USF Saturday, Nov. 17 at 3:30 p.m. in the semifinals. The Golden Eagles are now 4-4 all-time in BIG EAST postseason play, having beaten Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals for the third time (2006, 2010 and 2012) since joining the league in 2005.
Redshirt senior Holly Mertens led the way for MU with 16 kills (.457, 16-0-35), while classmate Danielle Carlson tallied a .609 hitting percentage (15-1-23). Junior setter Elizabeth Koberstein collected a match-high 44 assists in the win.
Pittsburgh leaned on sophomore Jessica Wynn, who had a match-high 19 kills, and junior Monica Wignot (10 kills) for a majority of its offensive production. The Panthers finish the campaign with a 17-14 overall mark.
Carlson, Mertens and senior Kelsey Mattai were perfect in the opening frame, combining for 13 kills on 13 attacks, to help the Golden Eagles earn a 25-14 victory. Mertens landed all seven of her attempts in the opening stanza, including the contest's first three points, while Carlson and Mattai connected on four and two attacks, respectively, to help MU hit .448.
Despite the 25-14 setback in the opening frame, Pittsburgh came out in the second set and grabbed an early 7-2 lead behind four kills from Wynn. After trailing by as much as seven, 19-12, halfway through the set, MU battled back in the latter part of the frame to pull within one, 23-22.
A timeout by Pittsburgh helped to hold off the Golden Eagles' late surge. Wynn slammed home back-to-back kills to give the Panthers the set and send the match to intermission tied at 1-1.
The third set was a back-and-forth affair that saw six ties and two lead changes. With the score knotted at 20-20, Lehman and Mertens each landed kills to give MU a 22-20 lead, forcing Pittsburgh to call a timeout. A block from Mertens and Mattai extended the lead to three points, but kills by Jasmine Dittrich and Alexa Campbell pulled the Panthers within a point, 23-22. Each side picked up another point, before Lindsey Gosh finished off a pass from Mattai, giving MU a 25-23 set win and a 2-1 advantage.
Pittsburgh used a lot of energy in the tightly-contested third set, allowing Marquette to claim an 8-2 lead to begin the fourth. Consecutive attack errors by Pittsburgh gave MU a 23-17 lead late in the set and kills from Gosh and Mertens solidified the set, 25-19, and the match in MU's favor.
Marquette will play USF for the first time in postseason play when the teams meet on Saturday. The Golden Eagles beat the Bulls, 3-2, in the squad's lone contest back on Oct. 7 at the Al McGuire Center. Both semifinal matches will feature a live, streaming video broadcast on BIGEAST.org, as well as live statistics through GameTracker.