MILWAUKEE, WIS. - Playing in its first BIG EAST Tournament semifinal match since 1994, the Seton Hall women's volleyball outlasted Marquette in five sets (25-23, 25-12, 19-25, 18-25, 15-11) on Friday, to earn a berth in the 2014 BIG EAST Championship Game.
Seton Hall (28-6) now takes a nine-match win streak into their first BIG EAST title game since 1994. The program is seeking its first-ever BIG EAST title. The Pirates will face the regular season champions, Creighton, at 5:00 p.m. ET. The match will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 2.
The Manthorpe sisters have guided the Pirates through good and bad times over the last four years, so it was fitting that they had big efforts in their first post-season contest. Stacey Manthorpe (Merion Station, Pa.) logged her team-leading 22nd double-double of the season with 14 kills and a career-high 32 digs. Shelbey Manthorpe (Merion Station, Pa.) also had a double-double, recording a match-high 44 assists and a season-high 27 digs.
Molly Grammer (Center Valley, Pa.) had a strong offensive performance, leading the Pirates with a career-high 17 kills to go with five blocks. Amanda Hansen (Pewaukee, Wis.) was a third Pirate to reach double-figures in kills. She finished with 11 kills, six blocks and just one attack error.
Marquette (24-8) scored five of the first six points of the match to take an early 5-1 advantage in set one. Seton Hall responded however, and blocks by Hansen and Grammer cut the Golden Eagle lead to just one, 10-9. Marquette stretched their lead to three points, but three straight kills by Grammer tied the set at 18. An attack error by Marquette's Autumn Bailey and a kill by Hansen extend the Pirates' run to 5-0 as Seton Hall takes its first lead of the match, 20-18. A Marquette service error puts Seton Hall in set point, 24-21, but the Golden Eagles scored two straight to close to within 24-23, but a final service error won the set for Seton Hall, 25-23.
The Pirates' stellar defense held the Golden Eagles to just a .136 attack percentage in set one, while Grammer paced The Hall's offense with five kills.
With the score tied at five points in set two, Seton Hall scored six straight and Stacey Manthorpe's kill gave the Pirates an 11-5 lead. Once they took the lead, the Pirates did a fine job of keeping distance between them in the Golden Eagles. A kill by Hansen made Seton Hall the first team to 20 points in set two with the Pirates taking a commanding 20-12 advantage and prompting a Marquette timeout. Three of the final four points of the second set came by virtue of Danielle Schroeder (Chicago, Ill.) kills as the Pirates closed out the frame on a 9-1 run to win easily, 25-12, and take a commanding 2-0 match lead.
How did the Pirates take a 2-0 lead? The Hall's defense held Marquette to a paltry .074 attack percentage through the first two sets and forced BIG EAST Player of the Year Autumn Bailey into more attack errors (seven) than kills (six). Meanwhile, Seton Hall has maintained a .238 attack percentage, and Stacey Manthorpe had team-highs of eight kills and 19 digs through two sets.
Using the momentum generated by a dominant set two victory, Seton Hall scored four of the first five points to begin set three. Trailing 7-4 however, Marquette scored three straight to tie the set at seven. With the score tied at 15, the Golden Eagles went on a 7-1 run to take a commanding 22-16 lead and never looked back. Marquette went on to win set three, 25-19.
In set four, Marquette jumped out to a 4-1 lead, but three straight points capped by a Molly Grammer kill tied the set at eight. The Golden Eagles again jumped in front and a kill by Autumn Bailey gave Marquette a 14-11 advantage and prompted a Seton Hall timeout. Out of the break, Marquette scored four of the next five points to take a commanding 18-12 lead, which forced the Pirates to take their second timeout. From there, the Golden Eagles rolled to a 25-18 set four victory to tie the match at two sets apiece.
Sets three and four were a complete role reversal from sets one and two. Marquette absolutely dominated in tying up the match.
Set five was everything you'd expect from a decisive set with two talented volleyball teams. With the Pirates trailing, 3-2, Seton Hall scored three straight to take a 5-3 lead. A kill by Grammer gave The Hall an 8-6 lead as the teams switched sides. A kill by Hansen made Seton Hall the first team to 10 points in the fifth set, 10-8. A kill by Stacey Manthorpe gave the Pirates a 12-9 lead and prompted Marquette to take its second timeout of the set. Out of the break, Stacey drove home another kill to extend The Hall's lead to 13-9. But Marquette responded with back-to-back kills to cut the Pirate lead to 13-11 and force Seton Hall's first timeout. A Golden Eagles' service error put Seton Hall in match point and Molly Grammer ended the set with a kill, 15-11, to win the match, 3-2.
BIG EAST Libero of the Year Tessa Fournier (Redondo Beach, Calif.) was a third Pirate to register at least 20 digs. The sophomore finished with 23.