Marquette notches first tourney win
Backed by Jones, Golden Eagles knock off first ranked opponent
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Friday was a night of firsts for Marquette at Huff Hall in Champaign, Ill.
Playing in their first NCAA tournament match, the Golden Eagles picked up their first tournament victory and knocked off their first ranked opponent in program history, No. 24 Western Kentucky, 25-21, 22-25, 26-24, 25-23.
Marquette (24-10) was led by 17 kills from senior outside hitter Ciara Jones, while classmate Ashley Beyer, playing in her home state of Ililnois notched 15 to go along with eight digs. Freshman setter Chelsea Heier paced the MU offense with 49 assists and sophomore libero Julie Jeziorowski led a strong performance from the back row with 22 digs.
WKU ends its season 31-4 and was led by Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Jordyn Skinner's 13 kills. Redshirt sophmore outside hitter Paige Wessel was the only other Lady Topper to reach double digits with 10 kills.
Marquette head coach Bond Shymansky improves to 7-3 in his career in NCAA tournament play.
An MU timeout with the fourth set tied at 20 provided the boost the Golden Eagles needed as they went on to claim their first NCAA victory with a 25-23 win. Senior middle hitter Danielle Carlson recorded match-point with her 10th kill of the evening.
The Golden Eagles took a 2-1 advantage in the match with a 26-24 third-set victory out of the intermission. Beyer notched five kills in the third, while Jones and Mertens each added four.
WKU held a 14-11 lead in the third until Beyer tied the frame at 14 with a kill and Mertens provided another as MU led WKU, 15-14, at the media timeout.
After dropping the first set, the Lady Toppers jumped out to a six-point lead midway through the second frame and held on for a 25-22 victory. Skinner led WKU with four kills in the second as it hit only .108 as a team. Three kills each from Beyer and Jones led MU in the second.
The Golden Eagles took a tightly-contested opening set, 25-21, after hitting a scorching .406 as a team. Jones led MU with five kills in the first on only nine attacks, while Beyer and Mertens recorded four apiece. The Lady Toppers held a four point advantage at 10-6 before MU tied the frame at 12 on a Mertens service ace. The frame remained close until MU grabbed a 22-20 advantage and scored the final three points to take the stanza, 25-21.
WKU hit .387 in the first set with 16 kills on 31 total attacks and was led by four kills from Wessel.
Mertens recorded the first point of the match and the first for the Golden Eagles in NCAA tournament play on a kill from Heier.
WKU captured the only other meeting between the two programs, a 3-0 sweep of the Golden Eagles in the Marquette Challenge at the Al McGuire Center on Sept. 4, 2004.