Volleyball Aims for Outright BIG EAST Title
Nov. 21, 2013
MILWAUKEE - This weekend features an important homestand for the Marquette University women's volleyball team as the squad looks to lock up the BIG EAST tournament's No. 1 seed against Xavier and Butler at the Al McGuire Center.
The Golden Eagles (21-5, 13-1 BIG EAST) clinched at least a share of the BIG EAST regular season crown with a sweep of St. John's in New York on Sunday and can lock up the No. 1 seed in the league tournament with one more win or a Xavier loss.
The Musketeers (20-9, 11-3 BIG EAST) sit alone in second place in the league, ahead of both Butler and Creighton, and will face MU on Friday evening at 7 p.m. before traveling to Chicago on Saturday to take on DePaul.
Marquette's regular season finale is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday against Butler and will feature a post-match ceremony honoring MU seniors Julie Jeziorowski, Elizabeth Koberstein, Catherine Mayer, Courtney Mrotek, Casey Read and Rachel Stier.
Friday's match against Xavier is also Marquette's "Dinner at the Al" night. Students who attend in groups of four will receive a free pizza, courtesy of Pizza Hut.
A free live video stream of both matches featuring Kyle Dlabay (play-by-play) with former Marquette All-American Ciara Jones (Friday's analyst) and Armen Saryan (Saturday's analyst) will be available on GoMarquette.com, as will live statistics via GameTracker.
For additional coverage, follow Marquette volleyball on Twitter (@MarquetteVB).
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION:
XAVIER [20-9 (11-3 BIG EAST) | RPI: 54 | GoXaiver.com | @XavierVball]: The Musketeers enter play Friday with their lone BIG EAST losses coming at the hands of Creighton and Marquette and have won eight of their last nine matches. They can still claim a share of the BIG EAST regular season title with a pair of victories this weekend and two Marquette losses. MU topped Xavier in the two squads' previous meeting in Cincinnati on Saturday, Nov. 2 in which Marquette freshman outside hitter Nele Barber posted a match-high 20 kills. The Musketeers, who have reached the 20-win plateau for the fifth-straight year, are led by sisters Alex and Aubree Smith. Alex leads the BIG EAST with a .405 attack percentage, while Aubree sits second in assists per set with 10.84 per frame. Outside hitter Abbey Bessler, perhaps Autumn Bailey's main competition for conference freshman of the year, sits fourth in the league with 3.77 kills per set. Series history: MU leads 6-5.
BUTLER [23-6 (10-4 BIG EAST) | RPI: 36 | ButlerSports.com | @ButlerVB]: The Bulldogs are currently tied with Creighton for third place in the conference standings, one match behind Xavier, and a pair of matches behind first-place Marquette. MU topped Butler in four sets on Friday, Nov. 1 in Indianapolis, but was pushed to extra points in three of the four frames. Freshmen Nele Barber and Autumn Bailey led MU with 23 and 22 kills, respectively, in that matchup, while Mary Striedl led the Bulldogs with 14 kills and hit .433. Butler limits opponents to a league-low .153 hitting percentage and ranks second in the league with 2.91 blocks per set. Series history: BU leads 6-2.
KOBERSTEIN EARNS SIXTH BIG EAST HONOR: Senior setter Elizabeth Koberstein earned her sixth BIG EAST Conference weekly award on Monday when she was named to the honor roll. Koberstein posted 11.88 assists per set at Seton Hall and St. John's and helped MU rebound from a first-set loss to the Pirates for a five-set victory with 54 assists, seven kills and seven digs. Koberstein leads the BIG EAST and ranks fifth nationally with 11.98 assists per set on the season. The Madison, Wis., native has helped Marquette hit a combined .285 this season, the ninth-best mark in NCAA Division I.
GOLDEN EAGLES ARE CONFERENCE CHAMPS FOR FIRST TIME: Marquette's sweep at St. John's on Sunday, Nov. 17 clinched at least a share of the BIG EAST Conference regular season championship for the first time in program history. MU, which has also competed in the Midwest Collegiate Conference, Great Midwest Conference and Conference USA, had never won a league title of any kind as a member of NCAA Division I.
UP NEXT: The Golden Eagles will travel to Omaha, Neb., on Thanksgiving Day for the 2013 BIG EAST Conference Women's Volleyball Championship, which will be held on Friday, Nov. 29 and Saturday, Nov. 30 at D.J. Sokol Arena. This marks the fourth-straight season Marquette has advanced to at least the tournament semifinals.
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