Volleyball Falls to Illinois in NCAA Second Round

Meghan Niemann led MU with 11 kills (photo credit: Cary Frye).

Dec. 7, 2013

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. –The No. 22 Marquette University women's volleyball team fell to 13th-seeded Illinois, 3-1, on Saturday evening in the second round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship at Huff Hall.

"It was a great season for us but a tough way to end it," Marquette head coach Bond Shymansky said. "We really just faltered as the match went on. We came out in the first set and were really dictating the pace of play and doing the things that we intended to do as we prepared for the match. We kept saying it was going to be oil and water—two totally different styles of play. If we could keep our oil going and keep it moving quick, we had a chance to separate from them, and we showed that in the first set."

The Golden Eagles (26-6) won the opening set 25-19 but dropped the final three frames 25-17, 25-13 and 25-12 for their sixth loss of the season. The loss snaps a 15-match winning streak for Marquette, which last fell at Creighton on Oct. 13.

Redshirt freshman middle hitter Meghan Niemann led the way for the Golden Eagles with 11 kills while outside hitter Autumn Bailey added 10 kills but hit -.026 (10-11-39) in the contest.

Illinois (18-14) was led by 19 kills from redshirt sophomore outside hitter Jocelynn Birks and junior Liz McMahon added 17 kills on .406 hitting.  

After Illinois took the opening point of the first set, Marquette never trailed on its way to a 25-19 win in the first. The Golden Eagles hit a combined .325 (17-4-40) in the stanza and were led by five kills apiece from Niemann and Bailey. The Illini hit just .167 in the first and were led by McMahon’s set-high six kills.

Roles reversed in the second set as MU fell into a big hole early that it was unable to escape before falling 25-17. The Golden Eagles, who trailed by as many as nine points, hit .171 in the second, while the Illinois hit .333 and was led by six kills from McMahon and five from Birks.

Marquette found itself facing another large deficit early in the third set as the Illini reeled off seven straight points for a 9-3 lead. Illinois cruised from there to a 25-13 victory, while hitting .429 with Birks' seven kills leading the way.

The Golden Eagles dropped the final frame 25-13 after hitting .000 with eight kills and eight errors.

Illinois improves to 26-3 all-time at home in NCAA tournament action, while the Golden Eagles fall to 2-3 in NCAA play. 

"It is a long bus ride home for us tonight, but we have so many great memories from this season," Shymansky said. "It was going to end at some point. Now that it’s over, we can certainly look back on 26-6, BIG EAST champions, BIG EAST tournament champions, a season of champions. We got a lot of championship moments out of this year, and even to get to this point is something that our program aught to be proud of.

"It’s something that had never been thought of, dreamed of, done before at Marquette, and now we’re in that three-peat mode. We’re going to make it again next year and we’re going to go further and keep doing it better and better. We’ve done it on the backs of players like Julie (Jeziorowski) and other players who have come before her. I’m really proud of the group altogether."




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