2011 Butler Volleyball
The First Serve
After playing its final non-conference match on Monday night against North Dakota State, the Bulldog volleyball team has a Horizon League weekend at UIC and at Valparaiso this weekend. Links to stats and video for both matches can be found on ButlerSports.com.
Butler (5-10, 1-2) is aiming for a bounce-back weekend after losing two straight and four of its last five. Last weekend, BU dropped a road match at league-leading Milwaukee on Friday night. The Dawgs then fell to North Dakota State at home on Monday night.
The young Butler team had previously won four of six in early September. Seven different freshmen and sophomores have started a match this year for Butler, including four freshmen players.
Butler’s contest at UIC will be important for both teams, as the Flames have a one-game lead over Butler in the current Horizon League standings. A BU win would make the Bulldogs 2-2 and very much in the race. Saturday’s match is a rematch of last season’s Horizon League Volleyball Championship final, when Butler defeated Valpo 3-0 to clinch an NCAA Tournament berth. The Crusaders are led by 2010 Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year Taylor Root, the team’s libero who led the nation in digs per set last year.
Following this weekend’s matches, Butler will begin a stretch of three straight at home. The Bulldogs will play Wright State Tuesday, Oct. 4 before hosting Loyola and Green Bay next weekend.
2010 TITLE REMATCH: Butler and Valparaiso, who will meet for the 35th time when they play on Saturday afternoon, will be a meeting of the two teams who advanced to the league championship match last year. Butler, the No. 2 seed, advanced to the final with a win over Cleveland State. Valparaiso was an upset winner, knocking off top-seeded Milwaukee on UWM’s home floor. Butler then rolled past Valpo in the final, 3-0.
DEFENSIVE POW: Back on Sept. 12, Brooke Ruffolo was the first Bulldog to claim a weekly award in 2011. She was named Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week after averaging 6.00 digs per set during the Butler Invitational.
TOP COMPETITION: Butler finished 4-8 in what was a very challenging non-conference schedule. BU ‘s non-league slate was highlighted by Notre Dame, Portland, Texas A&M and Washington State. Notre Dame and Texas A&M have at some point received votes in national polls.
ALL-TOURNEY DAWGS: Four Bulldogs were named all-tournament during the three weekends of non-conference action. Maggie Harbison was tabbed all-tournament at Notre Dame after hitting .321 with 1.21 blocks per set and Maureen Bamiro was on the all-tourney team at Portland after averaging 1.14 blocks and 2.43 kills. Brooke Ruffolo and Kelly Kyle were each honored after standout performances in Butler’s invite. Kyle averaged 3.90 kills per set during the event, while Ruffolo had 6.00 digs.
BU ALL-TIME vs. THIS WEEK: Butler has an all-time winning record against both UIC and Valpo. BU is 26-19 all-time vs. the Flames, including a 3-1 mark the last two years. Butler is 26-8 all-time against Valparaiso, including a 5-5 record since the Crusaders joined the Horizon League in 2007.
BU HITS ON 21: Butler has won 21 matches in each of the last two seasons. That’s the most in a 2-year span since 1996-97 (54 wins). BU went 21-14 in 2009 and 21-10 last year.
SINGLE-MATCH HIGHS: Gina Vera’s 45 assists against Austin Peay is the highest total in the Horizon League in a three-set match. Maggie Harbison hit .700 in a 3-1 win over Elon, the league’s best percentage in a four-set match.
FRESHMAN IMPACT: Four freshmen have started at least one match for Butler this season. Kelly Kyle and Brooke Ruffolo lead the Dawgs in kills and digs, respectively. Additionally, the young Bulldog team has seen two other freshmen see starting action. Belle Obert has started 12 matches this season and Stephanie Kranda has started nine times. Other rookies Jadyn Yarling and Christina Saenger have combined to play in 37 sets.
GIVING ‘MO’ THIS YEAR: Maureen Bamiro, an All-Horizon League and All-Midwest Region last year, is second on the team in kills (2.79), blocks (0.77) and points (171.0). She has moved into ninth on BU’s all-time list with 398 total blocks. She needs 11 more stops to catch Keely Norris for seventh.
GINA’S MOVING UP: Gina Vera is now sixth on Butler’s all-time list with 3,070 assists. Current assistant coach Dana Daprile is fifth on the charts with 3,320.
AVCA HONORS: Jessica Wolfe, who has joined the coaching staff as a student assistant, finished her time at BU by capturing all-region and All-American status from the AVCA for the second straight year. Wolfe became only the second Bulldog player to become honorable mention All-American twice (Areal Bienemy, 2003-04). Maureen Bamiro was also selected all-region by the coaches association.