CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Marquette swept Louisville 25-23, 25-22, 25-19 for the first time in program history on Friday in the first round of the Division I Women's Volleyball Championship at Huff Hall.
“Great win for us [Friday night], so proud of our group and happy for them," head coach Bond Shymansky said. "A lot people were telling us this is a great opportunity to win the Big East again. Louisville, a team that departed our league this past season and a team that we felt like we were always bashing heads with in league play -- so it was good to get that monkey off our back a little bit with them really in a dominating fashion. I thought that our whole group really did a great job."
Middle hitter Meghan Niemann led the way for the Golden Eagles (26-5) with 13 kills on .346 hitting, while outside hitter Autumn Bailey added 13 kills and 11 digs on the evening.
"We had a ton of balance with 13 kills from Autumn and Meghan," Shymansky said. "To be able to hit .305 against a team like that, that’s a great batting average when you’re doing that. We were really slugging it out of the park. That’s a credit to both Julie [Jeziorowski] and Bisky [Elizabeth Koberstein]. It was just really fantastic. You can just tell all week, our team was so amped, not just because it was the NCAA tournament, but because we’re playing Louisville in the first round. It couldn’t have been any sweeter than that for us.”
The Cardinals (23-8) were paced by 11 kills apiece from middle blocker Brooke Mattingly and outside hitter Emily Juhl.
The win marks the first time MU has defeated Louisville in less than five sets and just the fifth win all time against the former conference rival (Louisville leads the series 27-5). Marquette has won a program-record 15 consecutive contests and 21 of 22 matches overall.
The Golden Eagles prevailed 25-23 in the opening set after leading for most of the frame. Louisville fought back to tie the stanza at 23 after trailing by as many as four, but MU closed things out with a Bailey kill and a Louisville attack error.
Marquette hit a combined .295 in the first set with five kills apiece coming from Bailey and Niemann, each on 10 error-free swings.
A 6-1 run to close out the second helped Marquette to a 2-0 edge at the intermission following a 25-22 set triumph. After an MU timeout with the Golden Eagles trailing 21-19, Marquette reeled off six of the next seven points for the win.
Niemann led all players with five kills in the second and Bailey chipped in four and a pair of crucial aces from the service line.
The Golden Eagles built a seven-point lead midway through the third set, 18-11, and held off the Cardinals with two aces coming from libero Jeziorowski. She added 15 digs on the evening.
Bailey, Marquette's all-time freshman kill leader, moved up to No. 6 on MU's single season list and now has 473 on the year.