Volleyball to Face Louisville in NCAA First Round
Dec. 1, 2013
MILWUAKEE - The No. 24 Marquette University women's volleyball team will face former conference rival Louisville in the 2013 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship in Champaign, Ill., on Friday, Dec. 6 at 4:30 p.m. CT. It is the second time that MU has been sent to Champaign for NCAA matches.
The Golden Eagles (25-5, 15-1 BIG EAST) are making their third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament after claiming the BIG EAST Conference's automatic bid with a 3-1 title match victory at Creighton on Saturday evening. Marquette, which also won the league's regular season crown for the first time in program history, has won 14 straight contests and 20 of its last 21 matches overall.
Should Marquette advance it would face the winner of 13th-seeded Illinois and Morehead State on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. CT.
BIG EAST Player of the Year and tournament MVP Elizabeth Koberstein leads a prolific Marquette offense that leads the conference and ranks in the top 10 nationally in kills (14.97 per set), hitting percentage (.286) and assists (14.08 per set). Koberstein herself entered this past weekend third in NCAA Division I in assists per set and upped her season average to 12.28 per frame in the wins over Butler and Creighton. The senior sits fourth in MU history 2,794 career assists and owns two of the top seven single season marks in just two years as a Golden Eagle.
Marquette has also received tremendous contributions from a group of rookie hitters, led by BIG EAST Freshman of the Year Autumn Bailey. Bailey, an All-BIG EAST First Team performer, leads the squad with 4.22 kills per set, while also ranking second on the team with 3.07 digs per frame and has a total of 38 service aces on the year. The Burlington, Ontario is Marquette's all-time freshman kills leader with 460 so far in 2013.
Bailey is joined on the outside by Nele Barber, who earned All-BIG EAST Championship recognition for her play in Omaha and sits second on MU with 2.82 kills per set. Redshirt freshman middle hitter Meghan Niemann, also an all-tournament selection and first team all-conference performer in the BIG EAST, hits a team-best .347 and averages 2.71 kills and 0.77 blocks per set.
Marquette is 1-2 all-time in the NCAA tournament, with a 3-1 win over No. 24 Western Kentucky in the first round in the program's first-ever NCAA match in 2011. MU fell to No. 3 Illinois, 3-0, in the second round that season and saw its season cut short last year by No. 21 Creighton in a sweep.
MU is 4-27 all-time against Louisville and fell to the Cardinals, 3-0, in the last meeting in the title match of the 2012 BIG EAST Championship at the Al McGuire Center.
The Golden Eagles are led by fifth-year head coach Bond Shymansky, who along with assistants Jason Allen, Jackie Simpson and volunteer Evan Muys, earned 2013 BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year. Shymansky is making his third trip to the tournament with MU and sixth overall.
He owns a 7-5 record in the NCAA Championship, and has won at least one match in all but one appearance, even reaching the Elite Eight and Sweet 16 in 2003 and 2004, respectively.