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PITTSBURGH, Pa. - The No. 2 seed Louisville Cardinals knocked-off No. 3 seed Marquette 3-1 (15-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-14) in the second semifinal match of the BIG EAST Volleyball Championship on Saturday. The Cardinals will make their sixth-straight trip to the title match, qualifying for the final in every season that they have been members of the conference. Louisville has won three titles including defeating Cincinnati 3-1 last season. This year's final will be a rematch from the 2009 championship, as the Cardinals face the No. 1 seed Bearcats.
Sophomore outside hitter Lola Arslanbekova notched a double-double with 15 kills and 10 digs to lead the Cardinals, while freshman Emily Juhl added 10 kills. Louisville continued to show its blocking ability, recording 16 total team blocks. Junior Gwen Rucker had two solo blocks and six block assists in the effort, while three players had double-digit digs to hold Marquette to a .168 hitting percentage.
The Golden Eagles went up 1-0 in the match with a 25-15 first-set victory. Marquette scored 10 of the final 13 points including a stretch of six straight. Junior Ciara Jones had two kills during that period while freshman Julie Jeziorowski notched an ace. Both junior Ashley Beyer and senior Rabbecka Gonyo had five kills to lead the team. The Golden Eagles hit .333 in the frame while Louisville hit .147. The Cardinals hurt themselves by making three attack errors, two service errors, two return errors, two blocking errors and a ball-handling error in the session. Sophomore Lola Arslanbekova had five kills in the set and Rucker had two blocks for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals grabbed the second set 25-23 to pull even with the Golden Eagles in the match. Louisville led by as many as five points at 20-15, but Marquette came back to take the lead at 22-21 after scoring seven of the next eight points. The Cardinals would once again claim a lead at 23-22 following an attack error by Marquette. A kill by Marquette junior Ashley Beyer knotted the two squads at 23. Beyer had five kills and eight digs in the set. Arslanbekova and Juhl then went for back-to-back kills for Louisville to clinch the set and tie the match up at one set apiece. Arslanbekova had six more kills in the second frame, while Juhl contributed four. Freshman setter and All-BIG EAST Second Team selection Taylor Brauneis had 12 assists.
Louisville took control of the third set early and went on to a 25-15 win to take a 2-1 advantage in the match. Rucker notched four kills along with a pair of block assists to lead the Cardinals in the set. The team had three blocks and 20 digs in the frame, turning to its defense to make the plays. Freshman libero Catilin Welch had six of those digs while senior Lindsey Mango had four. UofL held the Golden Eagles to a .100 hitting percentage. Beyer and Jones each had three kills in the set to lead Marquette.
UofL jumped out early in the third set and went on to a 25-14 win to finish the match. At one point, Louisville scored nine of ten points to build a 14-5 lead. Arslanbekova had one kill in the stretch while Juhl added a pair. The Cardinals also had six blocks in the set and kept Marquette to a -.034 hitting percentage.
Louisville moves on to face No. 1 Cincinnati in the title match at 3:30 p.m. on live on ESPNU. It is a rematch of the 2009 final that the Cardinals won 3-1. Louisville also took the regular-season bout with the Bearcats in five sets.
Quarterfinals, Friday, Nov. 19
Match 1: No. 5 Notre Dame 3, No. 4 Villanova 1 (25-20, 25-17, 21-25, 25-14)
Match 2: No. 1 Cincinnati 3, No. 8 USF 0 (25-7, 25-13, 25-14)
Match 3: No. 2 Louisville 3, No. 7 Seton Hall 1 (25-17, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21)
Match 4: No. 3 Marquette 3, No. 6 Pittsburgh (25-19, 25-21, 25-16)
Semifinals, Saturday, Nov. 20
Match 5: No. 1 Cincinnati 3, No. 5 Notre Dame 0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-19)
Match 6: No. 2 Louisville 3, No. 3 Marquette 1 (15-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-14)
Championship, Sunday, Nov. 21
Match 7: No. 1 Cincinnati vs. No. 2 Louisville, 3:30 p.m. (LIVE - ESPNU)