Volleyball Looks for Separation at Top of BIG EAST
Oct. 30, 2014
MILWAUKEE – The Marquette University women’s volleyball team returns to the Al McGuire Center over Halloween weekend looking to create some separation at the top of the BIG EAST Conference standings with matches against Butler and Xavier on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
The Golden Eagles (17-6, 8-3 BIG EAST), who sit in a three-way tie for second place in the league standings, first welcome Butler to Milwaukee on Friday at 7 p.m., looking for revenge after the Bulldogs upended MU 3-2 in their last meeting on Oct. 15 in Indianapolis. The match will be broadcast live through GoMarquette.com’s All-Access player.
Butler took the last meeting in five sets after Marquette held a 2-1 advantage after three frames. Sophomore outside hitter Autumn Bailey posted career highs of 30 kills and 25 digs in the loss, while middle Erica Stahl posted 15 kills on .467 hitting to pace the Bulldogs, who landed 13 kills among their 15 points in the fifth set.
Xavier will make the trek to Milwaukee on Saturday as the two Jesuit institutions will face off on All Saint’s Day in a match broadcast live by the BIG EAST Digital Network at 6 p.m. Patrick Reed (play-by-play) and Bob Brainerd (analysis) will have the call for the live stream, which can be accessed through the FOX Sports GO application.
One week prior to the previous match at Butler, Marquette downed Xavier 3-1 in Cincinnati on Wednesday, Oct. 8. Bailey also led MU in that match with 20 kills, while right-side hitter Lindsey Gosh and middle Meghan Niemann each hit over .500 and landed 14 and 11 kills, respectively. Kristen Massa was the lone Musketeer with double-digit kills as the freshman outside hitter had 11 against MU.
Bailey currently leads the BIG EAST in kills (4.49), service aces (0.43) and points (5.23) per set while the Golden Eagles pace the league with a season-long attack efficiency of .255.
With eight matches remaining in the regular season, the Golden Eagles are eyeing their fifth-straight 20-win campaign and a fifth-consecutive berth in the BIG EAST tournament semifinals, which MU hosts on Nov. 28-29 at the Al McGuire Center.
Marquette’s chapter of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is currently holding a winter coat drive, benefiting the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Donations of coats, gloves, mittens, hats and scarves of any size will be accepted at Friday’s match against Butler and any individual who donates a coat will receive free admission.
Friday’s match also features a costume contest and an MU pillow case giveaway. The costume contest winner will receive a $100 gift card to the Marquette Spirit Shop.
For additional coverage, follow Marquette volleyball on Twitter (@MarquetteVB).
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION:
BUTLER [16-7 (8-3 BIG EAST) | ButlerSports.com | @ButlerVB]: Led by current league freshman of the week Makayla Ferguson, the Bulldogs are looking to extend their five-match winning streak. Ferguson averaged 13.17 assists and 4.17 digs per set last weekend during a pair of sweeps at Villanova and Seton Hall. She also leads the BIG EAST in assists per set and ranks second in conference play with an average of 10.79 per game. Butler is first in the BIG EAST in digs (17.57) and blocks (2.92) per frame and since joining the BIG EAST, Butler has gone 1-3 against Marquette. Series History: BU leads 7-4.
XAVIER [14-9 (7-4 BIG EAST) | GoXavier.com | @XavierVBALL]: Despite a 7-4 BIG EAST record, the Musketeers have posted a 5-1-conference road record heading into November. Sophomore outside hitter Abbey Bessler has powered the Musketeers, tallying 3.60 kills and 2.78 digs per set. Xavier has also found consistent play from redshirt senior middle blocker Alex Blair who ranks second in the BIG EAST in hitting percentage (.351) and leads the squad with 101 blocks this season. The Musketeers currently sit in fifth place in the league, just one win behind the three-way tie for second place. Series History: MU leads 8-5.
QUICK HITS/RECENT PROGRAM HISTORY:
• BIG EAST Player of the Week: Meghan Niemann (Sept. 22)
• BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week: Autumn Bailey (Oct. 13 and Oct. 20)
• BIG EAST Freshman of the Week: Gabby Benda (Sept. 29 and Oct. 20)
• NCAA RPI: Oct. 6 – No. 21; Oct. 13 – No. 28; Oct. 20 – No. 24; Oct. 26 – No. 27
• The Golden Eagles will host the BIG EAST Conference Women’s Volleyball Championship at the Al McGuire Center for the third time in the last four seasons on Nov. 28-29.
• Marquette’s five-set win over then-No. 7 Florida on Sept. 19 marked the first win in program history over a top-10 opponent.
• The Golden Eagles were picked second in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll with four first-place votes.
• Despite the high expectations, MU’s most consistent starting lineup boasts just one upperclassman, senior Lindsey Gosh, along with four sophomores and a freshman.
• Sophomore outside hitter Autumn Bailey, the 2013 BIG EAST Conference Freshman of the Year, was pegged as the conference’s preseason player of the year in August.
• Head coach Ryan Theis is in his first season with the Golden Eagles after six years at Ohio University. Theis entered 2014 as the 18th-winningest active head coach in NCAA Division I (.727) 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 its first BIG EAST regular season and tournament championships in program history in 2013 and went a program-best 15-1 in league action.
UP NEXT: The Golden Eagles play a 7 p.m. Tuesday match across town against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee at the Klotsche Center. The contest will be broadcast live through the Horizon League Network and tape-delayed on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel in Wisconsin.
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