Marquette got the attention of the NCAA women’s volleyball world when it opened the season 3-0, capping the first weekend with a four-set victory at then No. 9 BYU.
Thursday night the 11th-ranked Golden Eagles served notice that they’re totally for real as they rallied from being down 0-2 to win at No. 4 Wisconsin 25-22, 25-22, 29-27, 32-30, 15-9, finishing with a flourish and beating their in-state Big Ten foe for the first time after 20 tries. It was the highest ranked team Marquette has ever beaten.
“It’s two teams playing really hard,” Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield said. “You don’t want to play two and a half or three hours and then not be able to pull out a win, especially when you’re up 2-0, but they’re a really good team and it was just two really good volleyball teams going at it.”
It was one of four matches involving ranked teams Thursday.
BYU, now ranked No. 13, swept visiting Long Island, No. 17 Baylor swept Syracuse and No. 20 Hawai’i beat Army West Point in four.
The recaps follow, but first Friday’s very busy schedule.
Iowa is the place to be this weekend.
Northern Iowa is the host for No. 12 Kentucky, No. 15 USC and No. 23 Creighton. Friday’s matches have Creighton vs. Kentucky, USC vs. Kentucky, and UNI vs. Creighton.
The University of Iowa is the host for No. 5 Illinois, No. 16 Washington, and Colorado. Friday’s matches have Washington playing Illinois and Iowa vs. Colorado.
And there’s more in the Hawkeye State as sixth-ranked Penn State plays at Iowa State.
A look at the Big Ten schedule shows that Wisconsin gets no time to recuperate, since the Badgers play Baylor. Among the other B1G matches Friday, No. 14 Michigan plays Missouri and Northern Illinois at Dayton, No. 2 Nebraska faces Arizona at San Diego, and No. 18 Purdue goes to Notre Dame. Also, Northwestern is home for Austin Peay and Texas Tech, Rutgers is home for Towson and Princeton, and Maryland plays UT Rio Grande Valley in San Antonio.
The Pac-12 schedule includes No. 19 Utah playing unbeaten UC Davis and then Portland State at Utah Valley, Arizona State facing Western Kentucky at Louisville, and Oregon State at Indiana. Cal takes on North Carolina at UC Irvine, UCLA faces Texas State at Long Beach, and Washington State plays Utah State and Portland.
In the Big 12, matches include Oklahoma playing Yale at Indiana, Texas Tech facing Stephen F. Austin at Northwestern, Kansas vs. Albany in Orlando, and TCU home for Colorado State.
In the SEC, No. 21 Tennessee, which opened with back-to-back five-set losses to Illinois, plays Cincinnati and Miami. Arkansas is at No. 25 San Diego. Georgia is at Long Beach State.
The ACC slate includes No. 22 Florida State also at TCU where the Seminoles play Florida Atlantic. Tenth-ranked Pittsburgh is home for Ohio State, and No. 24 Louisville plays host to Tennessee Tech and Western Kentucky.
Also, BYU is home for Sam Houston State, Hawai’i is playing host to Sacramento State.
Click here for the complete Friday schedule at NCAA.com.
Marquette wins: Lest you forget, Marquette of the Big East is no flash in the pan. Last season, the Golden Eagles swept High Point and Cincinnati in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament before losing to Illinois in the round of 16. That team graduated a fabulous player in 6-foot-6 middle Jenna Rosenthal, but this year’s team hasn’t missed a beat.
“When you add up all our parts, it’s a pretty good group,” Marquette coach Ryan Theis told VolleyballMag.com on Friday morning.
True, but playing at Wisconsin is tough enough. Being down 0-2 is even tougher. But then Marquette rallied to grind out the third-set victory, and the fourth-set was gripping, although the Golden Eagles were plagued by serving errors when they could have closed out.
The first two sets, Wisconsin middle Dana Rettke seemed impossible to stop. She finished with 22 kills, hitting .455, and had an ace and eight blocks.
But Marquette tightened up in the third and never got rattled throughout the 29-27 and 32-20 set wins.
“I didn’t realize until this morning when I was revisiting stuff on my computer that we fought off like four match points in the third and then we missed the three serves in the fourth,” Theis said. “I love our team and we don’t go too high and we don’t go too low.”
Not even when being down 4-1 in the fifth.
“Lauren Speckman, our setter, and Martha Konovodoff, our libero, those guys don’t really know what quit is,” Theis said. “We can be down nine and Speckman can go back to serve and think she’s going to lead us back to victory. She’s just that kind of kid. An Konovodoff, it can be 24-3 and she’s going to run into a bleacher.”
Theis himself is not one to get too excited on the sidelines, not even as Marquette was closing out the victory.
“In the end we had the lead and were trying to finish so in my mind I was literally was saying, ‘Tick, tick, tick, let’s just keep this lead and end this thing.’ Early in the match we were just trying to extend it, just stay alive and see if we can get in a fight with these guys. And then at the end it became about closing.”
Marquette was led by Allie Barber, who had 22 kills despite hitting .158. She added an ace and a block. Kaitlyn Lines had 17 kills, two aces, nine digs and a block, and Hope Werch also had 17 kills, hit .529, and had an ace and eight digs. Ellie Koontz had 15 kills, hit .500, and had a block.
The respective liberos were outstanding. Konovodoff not only had 10 assists, but 17 digs. Wisconsin’s Tiffany Clark had three assists, two aces and also 17 digs.
Molly Haggerty had 16 kills, nine digs and six blocks for Wisconsin. Grace Loberg added 11 kills and Madison Duello had 10 to go with five blocks. Danielle Hart had seven kills and nine blocks.
Wisconsin out-blocked Marquette 17-3, but the Golden Eagles had an 81-67 kills advantage and led in digs 62-54.
“We blocked them a lot early and we weren’t late. They were hitting under .100 after the first two sets and over .400 in the last three,” Sheffield said. “It came down to us not being able to stop those guys. I thought Hope Werch was really, really great for them tonight, and (Martha) Konovodoff made some really big time digs in big moments.”
Marquette plays host to Syracuse on Saturday. So the message in the post-Wisconsin locker room?
“We’re going to enjoy it until 11 a.m. today and at 11 we’re starting to prepare for Syracuse, who we have tomorrow,” Theis said.
Top 25: McKenna Miller and Madelyn Robinson had 10 kills each as BYU (3-1) overpowered visiting LIU 25-14, 25-17, 25-10. Miller hit .409 and had an ace and a dig, while Robinson hit .400 and had two aces, three digs and three blocks. LIU (0-4) hit .030 …
Baylor (3-0) dealt Syracuse a 25-15, 25-11, 25-23 defeat in its season opener as the Bears hit .349. Yossiana Pressley led with 11 kills as she hit .320 and had two aces and a dig …
Hawai’i improved to 4-0 with a 22-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-19 win over visiting Army West Point (3-1). Skylar Williams led with 13 kills and hit .417 to go with four blocks, and Hanna Helvig and Jolie Rasmussen had 10 kills each. Army’s Sydney Morriss had 13 kills.
Around the nation: Santa Clara is 5-0 after the Broncos beat CSUN in four at Fresno State. Taylor Odom had 13 kills and seven blocks in the 25-12, 25-19, 22-25, 25-17 victory …
VCU swept visiting NC State as Italian senior Vicky Giommarini had 10 kills , four blocks and two aces and Britni Sneed had nine blocks … Oklahoma beat Oregon State at Indiana 22-25, 20-25, 25-20, 25-18, 18-16. Sarah Sanders led with 20 kills as she hit .400 to go with four blocks. Aysia Harty had back-to-back aces to end the match. Maddie Goings led Oregon State with 26 kills as she hit .305 and had seven digs and two blocks… Jamie Stivers and Maia Dvoracek had 10 kills each as Cal Poly got its first win of the season, sweeping North Texas …
Kansas State rallied from being down 0-2 to beat visiting Clemson 16-25, 21-25, 25-20, 25-19, 16-14. Peyton Williams led with 14 kills, and hit .346 to go with two digs and four blocks, one solo. Kaylin Korte had 17 kills, three aces and nine digs for Clemson …
Stephen F. Austin is 4-0 after winning in four at Loyola Chicago … Freshman Kayleigh Hames tabbed her third double-double of the season with 14 kills and 12 digs as Pepperdine swept Cal Baptist …
Southern Utah improved to 4-0 by beating Saint Mary’s in five. Shannon Webb had 16 kills, an assist, two aces, eight digs and two blocks for SUU. Ashley Breyan and Sienna Young had 15 kills apiece for Saint Mary’s …
UCLA swept Georgia to get its first win. Mac May led with 19 kills and had an ace, nine digs and three solo blocks … Another SEC school also got swept in California as West Virginia — off to a 4-0 start — blanked Arkansas. Brianna Lynch led with 10 kills and hit .533 …
SMU won in five at Oral Roberts …
And Texas State won in five at Long Beach State behind 15 kills from Cheyenne Huskey. She had an assist, four aces, 16 digs and a block. Allison Martinez had 16 kills for Long Beach to go with an ace, three digs and a block.