Volleyball Readies for Rams Volleyball Classic
Aug. 28, 2014
MILWAUKEE - A new era in Marquette University women's volleyball begins Saturday, Aug. 30 in Fort Collins, Colorado as first-year head coach Ryan Theis leads the Golden Eagles into the Rams Volleyball Classic at Moby Arena.
Marquette will play (RV) UC-Santa Barbara at noon Central time on Saturday before facing VCU at 6 p.m. CT. The Golden Eagles close out tournament action against No. 18 Colorado State at 2 p.m. CT on Sunday.
Picked to finish second in the 10-team BIG EAST Conference, Marquette returns five of six starters but must replace AVCA Third Team All-American Elizabeth Koberstein at setter and the program's all-time digs leader in former libero Julie Jeziorowski. Sophomore Autumn Bailey, the preseason conference player of the year, returns at outside hitter along with fellow unanimous all-conference preseason selections middle hitter Meghan Niemann and right-side hitter Lindsey Gosh.
The Golden Eagles are receiving votes in the AVCA Preseason Coaches' Poll after ending last season with their first ranking in program history at No. 23 as the champions out of the BIG EAST. They advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship and made their third appearance in the tournament in as many years.
Live statistics will be available for all three matches courtesy of CSURams.com, as will a free live video stream of the Colorado State match through the Mountain West Network.
For additional coverage, follow Marquette volleyball on Twitter (@MarquetteVB).
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION:(RV) UC-SANTA BARBARA [18-11 (13-3 Big West) | UCSBGauchos.com | @UCSB_Volleyball]: The Gauchos made their 28th appearance all-time in the NCAA tournament in 2013, where they were swept by No. 8 San Diego. Led by head coach Nicole Lantange Welch, UCSB tied for first place in the Big West Conference last season and returns two of its leading attackers in outside hitters Ali Spindt and Ali Barbeau. Sophomore middle blockers Phoebe Grunt and Allie Sullberg also return after averaging well over one block per set in 2013. Series history: First meeting.
VCU [26-8 (11-3 A-10) | VCUAthletics.com | @VCU_VOLLEYBALL]: The Rams are coming off a season in which they went 26-8 and advanced to the championship match of the Atlantic 10 tournament. Second-year head coach Jody Rogers has only a pair of seniors on the roster and adds a nine-player recruiting class for 2014. VCU, which returns seven letter winners, ended its 2013 season with a 3-1 victory over Ohio and former head coach Ryan Theis. The Rams return all-conference outside hitter Kalah Jones (3.05 kills/set) and single-season blocks leader Janelle Sykes, as well starting setters Cecilia Aragao and Kaitlyn LaMantia. Series history: MU leads 2-1.
No. 18 COLORADO STATE [28-2 (19-1 Mountain West) | CSURams.com | @CSUvolleyball]: Colorado State made its 19th-straight NCAA tournament appearance in 2013 and concluded the season with its best winning percentage in program history at .933 (28-2). Head coach Tom Hilbert has led the Rams to an NCAA trip in each of his 17 seasons at the helm and has compiled 16 regular season conference titles. CSU, which was 19-1 at Moby Arena in 2013, returns five of six starters and its libero. Junior right-side hitter Adrianna Culbert was an AVCA All-America Honorable mention last season, while redshirt senior Deedra Foss earned Mountain West Setter of the Year honors. Series history: first meeting.
QUICK HITS/RECENT PROGRAM HISTORY:
Sophomore outside hitter Autumn Bailey is the BIG EAST Conference Preseason Player of the Year. Bailey was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Year in 2013 and was the AVCA East Coast Freshman of the Year. She led the conference during league matches with 4.61 kills and 5.35 points per set.
The Golden Eagles were picked second in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches' Poll with four first-place votes and are receiving votes in the preseason AVCA Top-25 Poll.
Head coach Ryan Theis is in his first season with the Golden Eagles after six years at Ohio University. Theis enters 2014 as the 18th-winningest active head coach in NCAA Division I and was the 2009 and 2013 MAC Coach of the Year while leading the Bobcats to four NCAA tournaments.
Marquette made its third straight appearance in the NCAA Championship in 2013.
MU won 15 of its final 16 matches of the season and ended the year as winners of 21 of 23 matches overall.
Marquette reached the 20-win plateau for the fourth-straight season in 2013 and the fifth time in program history overall.
Consider the following about Marquette's departed 2013 senior class:
MU won its first BIG EAST regular season and tournament championships in program history in 2013 and went a program-best 15-1 in league action.
Marquette was ranked for the first time ever in the AVCA Coaches Poll on Nov. 25, 2013 at No. 24 and rose to No. 22 in the final poll before the NCAA tournament. It ended the year No. 23.
MU was ranked eighth in the NCAA's final 2013 regular season RPI (Nov. 30) and is the first team in at least a decade to be ranked in single digits at the time of the selection and not receive a seed (based on the NCAA's RPI database).
Graduated setter Elizabeth Koberstein earned BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year and was named the most outstanding player at the conference tournament. She was also a third team AVCA All-American.
Niemann and freshman outside hitter Nele Barber joined Koberstein as All-BIG EAST Championship honorees following MU's victories over Butler and Creighton in Omaha, Neb., on Nov. 29-30.
UP NEXT: The Golden Eagles travel to Washington, D.C., for the American Volleyball Classic, in which they will take on No. 13 Florida State and No. 24 American, both NCAA Sweet 16 participants from a year ago.
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