Let me start this off by saying that this was the first game of volleys I’ve ever seen with the naked eye. Please bear with me while I attempt to accurately depict what exactly I saw tonight with a limited understanding of the technical terms of the game; I am but an infant in this glorious display of savagery that the ancient Romans would find over the top.
The crowd for a game of volleys is a vicious beast that never fails to waver. Volleyball is not for the faint of heart; the game moves so quickly with such ferocity that it’s hard to keep up. Bodies fly everywhere, slamming continuously on the floor, while a white and blue ball hurls at extraordinary speeds.
Creighton and Marquette are the toast of the BIG EAST Conference, with Marquette going 10-2 in non-conference play and Creighton going 6-6, (both schools receiving votes for the top-25) and what was on display tonight was pure dominance on the Bluejay side.
The game plan was relatively simple for the Jays: stop Taylor Louis. With a steady dose of double teaming blocks on an attempted kills by Louis, the Jays were able to neutralize the scoring threat, and by the time adjustments were made it was all too late for the Golden Eagles.
The first set featured a quick 5 point lead for Creighton, a lead that would wane and wax from as much as six to as few as two, but to no avail for the Golden Eagles. On 18 swings, Louis was only able to succeed on 5 of them; batting a menial .111 during the first set. Without that offensive firepower, the Golden Eagles appeared somewhat off balance, and had a difficult time adjusting to the pressure placed on Louis. Creighton took the first set 25-22 in a set score that didn’t accurately reflect the clinic the Jays put on.
“Part of our game plan was to see if we could contain Taylor Louis,” head coach Kirsten Booth said after the game, “she’s just such a phenomenal player and I think we did a good job of that tonight.”
To say that game plan worked would’ve been an understatement. Yet, with the primary threat neutralized, the Jays still needed a scoring threat and they got them from nearly everywhere on the court.
The Jays got a great sum of their offensive firepower from senior Lauren Smith, sophomore Jaali Winters, and sophomore Taryn Kloth who provided the Jays with 32 kills on the night. The trio amassed 13 kills in the second set, that allowed them to separate themselves from the Golden Eagles.
Marquette was able to come out a bit stronger in the second, taking a 3-2 lead early on. It remained close until Lydia Dimke, Jaali Winters, and Lauren Smith went on a run and put the Eagles down 11-6. From then on it was simply a show of defensive aptitude, with the Jays holding Louis to .250 on her attempted swings. Though Marquette made it close towards the end, the Bluejays prevailed in a repeat score of 25-22.
“Everyone that went up to swing was going aggressively and just 100%, so it was a lot of fun,” Smith said after the game.
The third set began with back-to-back kills from Smith, which set off an offensive barrage that eventually ended in a 7-point Bluejay advantage. As the lead grew, it became clear that Marquette was out of answers. When the lead eventually got to 14-6 and match point began to loom, the Golden Eagles substituted a good deal of their players, which in one’s point of view would be the proverbial waving of the white flag.
Instead, Marquette put on a run of their own and closed the gap to 16-13. Yet, with the run, the lead would swell back to 24-18. Taylor Louis managed to get a kill, which was initially ruled out of bounds - game over, right?
Nah, no way. Marquette head coach Ryan Theis lifted the neon green card and the call was sent to review. After about two minutes of deliberation, the referees nodded in approval that the ball was, in fact, in. The celebrations performed by the 1,667 clad in blue were all for not and a great deal of shame cast down upon them.
Then, when play resumed after the challenge, Marquette’s Meghan Niemann served the ball into the net. Game over.
Jays get a clean sweep and improve their overall record to 7-6 and the glorious 1-0 in conference, and will face DePaul on Sunday. Marquette fell to 10-3, 0-1 in conference, and will head to Providence to face the Friars in Rhode Island.
For what it’s worth, the pace and excitement that volleyball exudes is truly something that is seldom spoken about. I can only utilize self deprecating humor to punish myself for going this long in my life without fully understanding the sport and its intricacies.
Next time you’re sitting on your couch watching the World Series of Poker or a collection of animals on waterskis, just remember that there’s a treasure trove of athletic prowess and intensely satisfying sport awaiting your patronage - the sport of volleys.