VB Sweeps St. John's for Share of BIG EAST Crown
Nov. 17, 2013
QUEENS, N.Y. – The Marquette University women’s volleyball team clinched at least a share of the first BIG EAST Conference regular season championship in program history on Sunday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena as the Golden Eagles swept St. John’s 25-23, 25-16, 25-23.
"It feels like a long time coming," Marquette head coach Bond Shymansky said. "(A BIG EAST Championship) is quest that we have been on and momentum that we have been slowly mounting the last five years. It’s a rewarding moment, but it’s still not satisfying yet and we don’t intend to get comfortable and sit back and back our way into a co-championship."
The Golden Eagles (21-5, 13-1 BIG EAST) can claim the outright league title on Friday evening with a victory over Xavier (20-9, 11-3 BIG EAST) at the Al McGuire Center.
"We really want to work hard this week and win it outright and take things forward to go to new heights for our program," Shymansky said. "This is another great accomplishment but now winning the BIG EAST tournament needs to be another accomplishment and going deeper in the NCAA tournament. There are plenty of higher goals that we can set that need to be met. I certainly am proud of the group and it is really a pleasure and honor to be a part of what they are doing and striving to accomplish. There are still some huge moments for us that are brewing and we need to make sure that we are taking on those moments, step-by-step with the greatest of effort and energy."
Freshman outside hitter Autumn Bailey led all players with 18 kills in the win while classmate Nele Barber added 12 kills and Meghan Niemann nine. Senior setter Elizabeth Koberstein paced the MU offense to a combined attack percentage of .322 (51-12-121) with 40 assists.
Junior Aleksandra Wachowicz led the Red Storm (16-15, 5-10 BIG EAST) with 16 kills and hit .310 in the loss.
Marquette, which has also competed in the Midwest Collegiate Conference, Great Midwest Conference and Conference USA, has never won a league title of any kind as a member of NCAA Division I.
The Golden Eagles took the opening set 25-23 and received six kills from Bailey and three apiece from Barber and Teal Schnurr. The Red Storm responded from an early four-point deficit to take its first lead at 16-15 before MU retook the lead for good.
St. John’s took the first point of the second frame, but it was the last lead the Red Storm could muster as Marquette cruised to a 25-16 second set win. The Golden Eagles hit a combined .436 (18-1-39) in the stanza, led by seven kills from Bailey, five from Barber on seven errorless swings and three apiece from Niemann and Lindsey Gosh.
The Golden Eagles closed out the match with a 25-23 win in the third set as Bailey and Niemann notched five kills apiece for MU.
Marquette has won 13 matches in the BIG EAST for the second year in a row and is 83-44 in league play since joining the conference in 2005, including a mark of 55-16 under Shymansky. MU has won at least 11 conference matches in the last four campaigns and is a combined 49-8 in those seasons.
The Golden Eagles improve to a perfect 6-0 against the Red Storm in Shymansky’s five-year tenure as MU’s head coach.
Marquette closes out the regular season at home next weekend against Xavier and Butler. The Golden Eagles face Xavier at the Al McGuire Center on Friday evening and welcome Butler for Senior Night on Saturday.
"We know that Xavier is contending for a share of the title if they can beat us," Shymansky said. "It was such a tightly contested match at their place a week ago and the same with Butler. We are really going to have to play our ‘A’ game to beat either one of those teams. I think the top part of our league right now is very strong and that is one of the great things about the newly reconfigured BIG EAST. We are trying to push things forward on the national scene for our league and we have four teams that are capable of doing things at NCAA tournament time."