Marquette Ends Regular Season Saturday at Northern Illinois
Nov. 25, 2011
MARQUETTE VOLLEYBALL (23-9 Overall)
MILWAUKEE - The Marquette University women's volleyball team plans to pad its NCAA tournament resume Saturday afternoon at Northern Illinois with a 4 p.m. match in DeKalb, Ill., at the Convocation Center's Victor E. Court.
The Golden Eagles (23-9, 12-2 BIG EAST Conference) are coming off a heart-breaking 3-2 loss to second-seeded Cincinnati in the semifinals of the BIG EAST tournament. MU built a 2-0 lead against the Bearcats before watching it slip away as UC went on to claim its first BIG EAST tournament title at the Al McGuire Center on Sunday afternoon.
BIG EAST Freshman of the Year Chelsea Heier ranks fourth in NCAA Division I with 11.94 assists per set and leads a Marquette attack that ranks second in the BIG EAST with a hitting percentage of .258.
All-BIG EAST First Team performers Ciara Jones and Danielle Carlson have been the recipient of many Heier assists as Jones leads the squad with 3.61 kills per set and Carlson's.383 hitting percentage ranks 20th in the nation.
Right-side hitter Holly Mertens has also broken out for MU in recent weeks, culminating in the redshirt junior's selection to the all-tournament team at the BIG EAST Championship. Mertens has reached double figure kills in the last three matches and tied a career-high with 15 kills in the BIG EAST quarterfinal match against Seton Hall on Friday, Nov. 18.
Northern Illinois (27-6, 14-2 Mid-American Conference) is led by sophomore outside hitter Lauren Wicinski who was named the MAC Player of the Year for the second straight season after leading the nation in kills per set (5.36) as well as points (6.22). Wicinski helped NIU to the MAC West Division championship for the first time since 2006 and the first MAC regular season title since 2001.
The Huskies were knocked out of the MAC tournament on Sunday afternoon by sixth-seeded Central Michigan, which held on to a 2-0 lead for a five-set victory.
Saturday's contest will pit the 2011 BIG EAST Coach of the Year, Bond Shymansky, against MAC Coach of the Year, Ray Gooden.
Marquette dropped its previous match this season against NIU, 3-1, on Saturday, Sept. 3 at the Bluejay Invitational in Omaha, Neb. The Golden Eagles hit .313 as a team in that contest, led by Ashley Beyer's 18 kills and Bluejay Invitational-record seven service aces. Wicinski led all players with 22 kills.
Marquette enters the match with an RPI ranking of 39, while the Huskies are 17th in the latest standings.
MU finished the 2010 season with a mark of 47 and was the first team left out of the NCAA field as the top 46 were included in the NCAA Championship.
The NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Selection Show will air live on Sunday, Nov. 27 at 5 p.m. CT on ESPNU.
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