Golden Eagles volleyball hopes to continue to soar in 2023
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Marquette volleyball has a lot of familiar faces returning on this year's team and comes off the most wins in program history after finishing last season 29-4.
"I think we take the momentum we had last year and try and continue it to this year, but we got to find a new groove," said Hattie Bray, a junior middle blocker for the Golden Eagles.
"It raises the bar, but we still have to play our game and we can't let other people's opinions affect how we play," said Aubrey Hamilton, a senior outside hitter.
That's why the team is doing their best to block out the noise from its highest ever preseason ranking in the coaches poll coming in at No. 12.
"We got to start out like we're ranked in the bottom and work our way up no matter where we are in the poll," said Bray.
"We have to understand what's in front of us, the schedule is very hard," said Ryan Theis, Marquette volleyball head coach, about the team's outside expectations.
He wants the team to understand how slim the margins can be in those rankings and seedings in the NCAA tournament. Including playing currently second-ranked Wisconsin on Sept. 13, MU has six Top-25 ranked opponents on its schedule. Fifth-ranked Pittsburgh, ninth-ranked Oregon, 16th-ranked Purdue and Tennessee were several programs that made sure they added Marquette to their schedule.
"It makes me feel proud of what we're doing here and excited about just our current team and the opportunities they have," said Theis.
The Golden Eagles have accomplished a lot in the 10 years under Theis. Marquette has made the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament twice, including last season, brought home back-to-back Big East regular championships, and reached the highest in-season ranking of 7th. However, they still want to reach new heights.
"'Can we break one of those records? Can we do that?' And that's exciting for them to think about," said Theis.
"Coming off two Big East championships back-to-back, it's obvious we're trying to go for a third one. We're trying to make it a back-to-back-to-back. Three-peat," said Bray. "We've had these expectations for us since I got here and even before that. It's like we expect that we're gonna make the NCAA tournament, we expect to be either number one or two in the Big East conference. I think those are great because that pushes what we're trying to work towards every single year."
Marquette will play No. 24 Western Kentucky, Drake, and Dayton in Dayton, Ohio to open the season on Aug. 25 and Aug. 26.