No. 3 Marquette Falls to No. 2 Cincinnati, 3-2
Nov. 19, 2011
MILWAUKEE - The Marquette University women's volleyball team fell to Cincinnati in the semifinal of the BIG EAST Volleyball Championship in a closely contested 3-2 (21-25. 21-25, 25-22, 25-17, 15-13) match Saturday evening at the Al McGuire Center.
"It was a brutal loss for us in a lot of ways," Marquette head coach Bond Shymansky said. "We’ve come back from being down 0-2 a couple times this season and end up getting a five-set victory. So to have it happen to us today is pretty hard to take for our team. There is no doubt that we gave it everything we had as a team.
"We went into stall mode a little bit in the third and fourth set and you could tell the intensity wasn’t sustained. We brought it back again in the fifth set, but fifth sets just come down to weird plays. Little points go your way or don’t go your way and that can make a difference in wins and losses."
Ashley Beyer had a season-high 20 kills for the Golden Eagles, and Chelsea Heier had a career-high 64 assists in the losing effort. Cincinnati had five players record double-digit kills in the win, including 21 from Missy Harpenau.
On the defensive end, Cincinnati's Emily Macintyre and Marquette's Julie Jeziorowski each had a game-high 26 digs.
"Our back row was unbelievable today and considering how poorly we played against Cincinnati the last time. To watch Julie, Rachel (Stier), Cat (Mayer) and Beyer just getting after it, put their sweat out there and made just unbelievable plays at times. Those are the kind of things that we are proud of as a team and as a staff that keeps getting better within our program," said Shymansky.
The loss drops the Golden Eagles to 23-9 on the season. Cincinnati improves to 24-8 with the victory.
"I’m proud of my group, I’m hurting for my group, but we have another week left in the regular season," Shymansky said. "We have another huge match (against Northern Illinois) in front of us. It is tough that today was our last home match, but what a great crowd for us today. People just chanting over and over ‘We Are Marquette,’ that was just really special for us. We will look forward to next season, coming back in here and chasing down that title again."
The opening set started close, but Marquette began to pull away, ripping off five-consecutive points to open up a 15-9 advantage. Although the Bearcats battled back to draw within two points late in the set, the Golden Eagles held them off to take the set 25-21. Beyer led Marquette with five kills in the opening frame, and the Golden Eagles benefitted immensely from eight first set attack errors by Cincinnati.
In the second set, Marquette opened up an early 10-5 lead before Cincinnati burned their first timeout. The Bearcats were never quite able to claw back into the set, and Marquette carried their early lead to another 25-21 set victory. Holly Mertens led the Golden Eagles with six kills in the set, and Heier had an impressive 17 assists.
The third set started off much differently than the first two, as Cincinnati seized control early and opened a 12-7 advantage, forcing Bond Shymansky to call timeout. Cincinnati led 20-12, but an 8-2 run pulled the Golden Eagles back within two points at 22-20. The Bearcats never relinquished that lead, and they took the third set 25-22. Beyer and Ciara Jones had five kills apiece and Julie Jeziorowski had nine digs to lead the Golden Eagles.
Cincinnati held an early edge in the fourth set as well, and they extended their lead to 15-10 as the game hit a media timeout. The Bearcats kept trucking forward, and they pushed their lead to as many as eight en route to an easy 25-17 fourth set victory. Beyer had five more kills for the Golden Eagles, but Jordanne Scott's six kills and .667 hitting percentage were too much for Marquette to handle.
Neither team gave much ground to start the final set, with the biggest early lead being 6-3 for Marquette, which led 8-7 when the teams changed ends.
Cincinnati pulled back in front at 11-9 and forced Shymansky to call timeout to rally his troops. But rally they could not, and Cincinnati completed their charge with a 15-13 fifth set victory. Harpenau's five kills, including the game-winner, powered Cincinnati to their improbable comeback win.
The match was Marquette's first loss of the season when leading by two sets. The third set also marked the first time Marquette has lost a set with a chance to sweep a match this season. They were previously 12-0 in third sets when leading 2-0. Marquette falls to 2-2 on the season in five-set matches.
The loss was Marquette's second of the season to the Bearcats, who previously won 3-1 on Nov. 5.
Marquette next faces Northern Illinois on the road in their season finale on Saturday Nov. 26 at 4 p.m. CT.
Cincinnati will face fourth-seeded Notre Dame Sunday in the BIG EAST Championship match at 3 p.m. CT at the Al McGuire Center. The match will be televised live on ESPNU.
The Fighting Irish upset top-seeded Louisville in the first semifinal on Saturday.
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