Marquette Press Conference
MILWAUKEE, Wis. – No. 2 Marquette (25-5) defeated No. 7 Pittsburgh (17-14) in four sets by the scores of 25-14, 22-25, 25-23 and 25-19 in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship. The Golden Eagles advanced to the semifinals for the third straight year and will play No. 6 USF (17-13) on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. CT.
Marquette set a program record with 25 wins and is 4-4 in the BIG EAST Championship, Pittsburgh is 48-16. The Golden Eagles also defeated the Panthers in 2006 and 2010 to advance to the semifinals.
The Golden Eagles were led by their All-BIG EAST First Team selections; seniors Holly Mertens and Danielle Carlson and junior Elizabeth Koberstein. Mertens tallied 16 kills without recording an error and hit .457. Carlson recorded 15 kills on 23 attempts for a .609 hitting percentage and Koberstein dished out a match-high 44 assists. Defensively, juniors Julie Jeziorowski and Rachel Stier registered 17 and 10 digs respectively.
Pittsburgh was led by sophomore Jessica Wynn who posted a match-high 19 kills. All-BIG EAST Second Team selection, junior Monica Wignot joined her in double-digit kills with 10 and hit .412. Sophomore Lindsey Zitzke registered 32 assists and senior Margy Acton totaled 12 digs to lead the Panthers.
Marquette controlled the first set offensively. As a team, the Golden Eagles hit .448 with 16 kills on 29 attempts and only three errors. Mertens was a perfect seven-for-seven on kill opportunities while Koberstein dished out 14 of her 44 total assists. Marquette won the set 25-14 to claim a 1-0 lead.
Pittsburgh retaliated in the second set behind the stellar play of Wynn. The sophomore recorded 10 kills and hit .389 while Zitzke controlled the offense with 14 assists. Pittsburgh would win the set 25-22 and tie the match at a 1-1.
Marquette put together another strong offensive performance in the third set. After recording just nine kills for a .250 hitting percentage in the second set, the Golden Eagles came back strong and totaled 18 kills on 38 attempts and just two errors to hit .421. Mertens and Carlson posted six and five kills respectively and Koberstein totaled another 14 assists as Marquette regained a lead and took set three, 25-23.
The Golden Eagles led for most of the fourth and final set. After trailing 2-0 early on, they rallied four straight points to take the lead and never look back. Mertens tallied the final kill of the set as they claimed a 25-19 win and took the match, 3-1.
Quarterfinals, Friday, Nov. 16
Match 1: No. 4 Connecticut, 2 vs. No. 5 Cincinnati, 3 (25-17, 17-25, 25-20, 23-25, 15-8)
Match 2: No. 1 Louisville, 3 vs. No. 8 St. John’s, 0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-18)
Match 3: No. 3 Notre Dame, 1 vs. No. 6 USF, 3 (25-17, 18-25, 25-23, 25-19)
Match 4: No. 2 Marquette, 3 vs. No. 7 Pittsburgh, 1 (25-14, 22-25, 25-23, 25-19)
Semifinals, Saturday, Nov. 17
Match 5: No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 5 Cincinnati, 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT
Match 6: No. 2 Marquette vs. No. 6 USF, 4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. CT
Championship, Sunday, Nov. 18
Match 7: Match 5 Winner vs. Match 6 Winner, 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT (LIVE – ESPNU)