Marquette Hosts BIG EAST Volleyball Championship Friday
Nov. 25, 2014
MILWAUKEE - The Marquette University women’s volleyball team looks to repeat as BIG EAST Conference champions when it hosts the league’s annual tournament on Nov. 28-29 at the Al McGuire Center.
The Golden Eagles have earned the No. 3 seed and will face No. 2-seed Seton Hall on Friday, Nov. 28, at 5:30 p.m. in the semifinals. Friday’s match will air on the BIG EAST Digital Network through the FOX Sports GO application, while the conference title match on Saturday will air at 4 p.m. on FOX Sports 2.
Tickets to the tournament can be purchased through the Marquette Ticket Office online or at the Al McGuire Center. Single-day tickets are $9 for lower level chairback seats and $7 for general admission seating, while all-session passes, including the semifinals and title match, are $15 and $10, respectively.
Marquette (24-7, 14-4 BIG EAST) has advanced to the tournament semifinals in each of the past five campaigns and is led into action by BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year Autumn Bailey. Bailey leads the league in kills, points and service aces and ranks among the national leaders in each category. She became the second MU player in as many seasons to earn the player of the year honor, following 2013 recipient Elizabeth Koberstein, and is the first sophomore to earn the distinction since 2002.
Bailey was joined by preseason all-conference selections Lindsey Gosh and Meghan Niemann on the All-BIG EAST First Team. It was the second first team honor for Bailey and Niemann, while Gosh was on the league’s second team as a junior in 2013.
The Golden Eagles will face Seton Hall in the semifinal round and have split a pair of matches with the Pirates this season. Marquette won 3-1 on Saturday, Oct. 18 at the Al McGuire Center in one of the league’s top contests this year. MU set an NCAA record for a four-set match with 117 points in the victory as the sets went 23-24, 25-20, 25-23, 35-33. Seton Hall followed that up with a four-set win on Nov. 14 in New Jersey, its first win in the series since 2009.
MU holds an 8-4 all-time advantage against the Pirates and almost every meeting since the Golden Eagles joined the BIG EAST in 2005 has been a hotly contested affair, with eight five-set matches during that span.
With a win on Friday, the Golden Eagles would advance to their third-straight BIG EAST title match as they look to become the league’s first repeat winner since Louisville’s run of three-straight championships in 2008-10.
For additional coverage, follow Marquette volleyball on Twitter (@MarquetteVB).
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION:
No. 2 SETON HALL [27-6 (15-3 BIG EAST) | SHUPirates.com | @SHUVolley]: The Pirates earned a No. 2 seed by topping conference champion Creighton twice during the regular season, including a sweep last weekend in Omaha. Seton Hall, led by the league’s coaching staff of the year, has closed the regular season with eight-straight wins behind the BIG EAST’s leading defense in terms of opponent hitting percentage (.153). The Pirates also boast the league’s second highest hitting percentage (.252), a spot behind Marquette. Outside hitter Stacey Manthorpe posted 3.58 kills per set to lead the Pirates offense, while 2014 BIG EAST Libero of the Year Tessa Fournier emerged as the league leader in digs per set with 5.49 during the regular season. Senior Shelbey Manthorpe also earned all-conference honors as one of two setters on the first team.
POTENTIAL TITLE MATCH OPPONENTS:
No. 1 CREIGHTON [23-8 (16-2 BIG EAST) | GoCreighton.com | @CreightonVB]: The BIG EAST regular season champions enter the conference tournament winners of 17 of their last 19 matches, with two blemishes against Seton Hall. Unanimous first team all-conference selection Kelli Browning posted an attack percentage of .357 to lead Creighton’s attack which ranked in the top four in all BIG EAST offensive statistical categories. Setters Maggie Baumert and Michelle Sicner combine for 16.67 assists per set as the Bluejays hit .236 as a team. In addition to Browning, outside hitter Jess Bird and middle blocker Lauren Smith earned all-conference honors on Tuesday afternoon. Creighton swept semifinal-opponent Xavier at home in September and topped the Musketeers 3-1 in Cincinnati on Nov. 7.
No. 4 XAVIER [19-11 (12-6 BIG EAST) | GoXavier.com | @XavierVBALL]: Xavier earned its way into the BIG EAST tournament by virtue of back-to-back sweeps over St. John’s and Providence this past weekend, which followed a 3-1 win over Butler. The three consecutive victories gave the Musketeers the tiebreaker over Butler, clinching them a date with Creighton in the semifinals. Jesse Earl comes into the tournament fresh off a BIG EAST Freshman of the Week nod after she posted 22 digs, 10 service aces and 10 assists in the Musketeers’ weekend victories. Xavier’s duo of Aubree Smith and Alex Blair highlight an attack that averages 13.82 kills per set. Smith (.344) and Blair (.331) rank second and third, respectively, in the BIG EAST in hitting percentage. Outside hitter Abbey Bessler and Smith were Xavier’s lone All-BIG EAST honorees in 2014.
QUICK HITS/RECENT PROGRAM HISTORY:
• BIG EAST Player of the Year: Autumn Bailey
• Sports Imports/AVCA Division I National Player of the Week: Autumn Bailey (Nov. 17)
• BIG EAST Player of the Week: Meghan Niemann (Sept. 22)
• BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week: Autumn Bailey (Oct. 13, Oct. 20, Nov. 10, Nov. 17, Nov. 24)
• BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week: Lauren Houg (Nov. 10)
• BIG EAST Freshman of the Week: Gabby Benda (Sept. 29 and Oct. 20)
• BIG EAST Honor Roll: Courtney Kintzel (9/1), Autumn Bailey (9/9, 9/29 & 11/3), Nele Barber (9/15 & 10/6), Lindsey Gosh (9/22, 9/29 & 11/3), Meghan Niemann (10/26), Lauren Houg (11/17, 11/24), Gabby Benda (11/24)
• NCAA RPI: Oct. 6 – No. 21; Oct. 13 – No. 28; Oct. 20 – No. 24; Oct. 26 – No. 27; Nov. 3 – No. 21; Nov. 10 – No. 23; Nov. 17 – No. 26; Nov. 24 – No. 26
• 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.
• 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.
• Bailey’s 89 attacks in MU’s four-set victory over Seton Hall on Saturday, Oct. 18 are the most for a player in NCAA Division I this season and the most-ever for a Golden Eagle. Marquette set an NCAA record for a four-set match with 117 points in the win, while Bailey had 25 kills.
• Bailey became the first player in program history to earn Sports Imports/AVCA Division I National Player of the Week honors on Nov. 17 after posting 8.00 points and 7.14 kills per set, while hitting .348 in matches at Seton Hall and Villanova.
• Sophomore middle hitter Teal Schnurr had 10 block assists on Nov. 4 at Milwaukee, marking the first time that an MU player has notched at least 10 blocks since former AVCA All-American Rabbecka Gonyo had 11 on Sept. 12, 2009, also against Milwaukee. Schnurr helped the Golden Eagles to 16.0 total team blocks against the Panthers, the highest MU total in a three-set match since at least 2002.
• 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.
• The Golden Eagles have won 20 matches for a program-record five-straight seasons.
UP NEXT: The Golden Eagles will await their NCAA Championship fate as the 64-team field is unveiled live on ESPNU on Sunday, Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m. The BIG EAST tournament will decide the league’s automatic bid.
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