Volleyball Defeats No. 24 WKU, 3-1, for First NCAA Win
Dec. 2, 2011
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Friday was a night of firsts for the Marquette University women's volleyball program at Huff Hall in Champaign, Ill.
Playing in their first NCAA Championship match, the Golden Eagles picked up their first tournament victory and knocked off their first ranked opponent in program history, No. 24 Western Kentucky University, 25-21, 22-25, 26-24, 25-23."We haven't been ashamed to say that we are the underdog here, and I felt like we really embraced that role well," head coach Bond Shymansky said. "We did it with an incredible amount of intensity, and these two young ladies (Ashley Beyer and Ciara Jones) were full of that type of intensity. They embodied it all night long. The whole team was just kind of on fire. It wasn't perfect, and it wasn't flawless, but we knew that it didn't need to be. It was a team effort all the way around. We practiced all week long and knew each set was going to be 23-23 or 22-22. I am super proud of our team."
Marquette (24-10) was led by 17 kills from senior outside hitter Ciara Jones, while classmate Ashley Beyer, playing in her home state of Ililnois notched 15 to go along with eight digs. Freshman setter Chelsea Heier paced the MU offense with 49 assists and sophomore libero Julie Jeziorowski led a strong performance from the back row with 22 digs.
"There were certainly flat spots for us, and we aren't a team that performs well when we come out flat. Some teams are good at playing flat, and you can't tell the difference. Our team is extremely emotional, but in a good way. I would never ask them to be any other way, and in fact, we are actually trying to get them to pull more out. We work so hard for the moments in the locker room where we can jump around and celebrate. The moments of victory are just fleeting in our sport," Shymansky said.
WKU ends its season 31-4 and was led by Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Jordyn Skinner's 13 kills. Redshirt sophmore outside hitter Paige Wessel was the only other Lady Topper to reach double digits with 10 kills.
Marquette head coach Bond Shymansky improves to 7-3 in his career in NCAA tournament play.
An MU timeout with the fourth set tied at 20 provided the boost the Golden Eagles needed as they went on to claim their first NCAA victory with a 25-23 win. Senior middle hitter Danielle Carlson recorded match-point with her 10th kill of the evening.
The Golden Eagles took a 2-1 advantage in the match with a 26-24 third-set victory out of the intermission. Beyer notched five kills in the third, while Jones and Mertens each added four.
WKU held a 14-11 lead in the third until Beyer tied the frame at 14 with a kill and Mertens provided another as MU led WKU, 15-14, at the media timeout.
After dropping the first set, the Lady Toppers jumped out to a six-point lead midway through the second frame and held on for a 25-22 victory. Skinner led WKU with four kills in the second as it hit only .108 as a team. Three kills each from Beyer and Jones led MU in the second.
The Golden Eagles took a tightly-contested opening set, 25-21, after hitting a scorching .406 as a team. Jones led MU with five kills in the first on only nine attacks, while Beyer and Mertens recorded four apiece. The Lady Toppers held a four point advantage at 10-6 before MU tied the frame at 12 on a Mertens service ace. The frame remained close until MU grabbed a 22-20 advantage and scored the final three points to take the stanza, 25-21.
WKU hit .387 in the first set with 16 kills on 31 total attacks and was led by four kills from Wessel.
Mertens recorded the first point of the match and the first for the Golden Eagles in NCAA tournament play on a kill from Heier.
WKU captured the only other meeting between the two programs, a 3-0 sweep of the Golden Eagles in the Marquette Challenge at the Al McGuire Center on Sept. 4, 2004.
The Golden Eagles return to action 7 p.m. Saturday at Huff Hall in the second round against national No. 3-seed Illinois.