MILWAUKEE, Wis. – No. 2 Marquette (26-5) defeated No. 6 USF (17-14) in four sets to advance to the BIG EAST Championship Final for the first time in program history. The Golden Eagles won by scores of 25-16, 25-20, 25-27 and 25-22 and will face No. 1 Louisville (27-3) on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT. The championship match will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
Marquette is 5-4 in the BIG EAST Championship and 1-3 in semifinal matches. USF is 3-6 in the tournament and 0-3 in the semifinals.
Four players recorded double-digit kills for the Golden Eagles; seniors Danielle Carlson and Holly Mertens, sophomore Lindsey Gosh and freshman Erin Lehman. Carlson and Mertens, both All-BIG EAST First Team selections, tallied 14 and 10 kills respectively and Gosh and Lehman both added 11. Another first team selection, junior Elizabeth Koberstein, led all players with 46 assists and added 11 digs to complete the double-double. Defensively, junior Julie Jeziorowski led the team with 20 digs and became the all-time digs leader in Marquette history.
The Bulls were led by senior J’beria Davis and junior Kayla Walton, a second team selection. Both players recorded 11 kills. Freshman of the Year Erin Fairs recorded 15 digs and was joined by senior Claudia Cabrera with another 15. Freshmen Natalia Soares and Wylie Devlin led the offense with 25 and 22 assists respectively.
Koberstein led the offense in the first set and dished out 12 assists. Carlson recorded four kills on four attempts and freshman Erin Lehman added four more kills. Marquette pulled away early on and claimed a 25-16 win.
The Bulls performed better offensively in the second set but the result was similar as they fell 25-20. The Golden Eagles hit .324 and recorded only two errors to take the 2-0 advantage in the match.
USF retaliated in the third set and claimed a thrilling 27-25 victory. They trailed only once in the set and traded points down the stretch until a kill from junior Andrea Rodriguez Gomez gave USF the win to cut the deficit to 2-1.
The Bulls carried that momentum into the fourth set and jumped out to an early 7-1 lead. However, Marquette rallied and went on a 17-7 run to eventually take the set (25-22) and 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, 3 vs. No. 5 Cincinnati, 0 (25-16, 25-16, 25-23)
Match 6: No. 2 Marquette, 3 vs. No. 6 USF, 1 (25-16, 25-20, 25-27, 25-22)
Championship, Sunday, Nov. 18
Match 7: No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 2 Marquette, 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT (LIVE – ESPNU)