The First Serve
For the second consecutive weekend, the Butler volleyball team will host a four-team invitational at Hinkle Fieldhouse, as SEMO, UC-Davis and Kent State come to BU Sept. 14-15. Butler will play twice Friday, Sept. 14 against SEMO and then in the evneing vs. UC-Davis.
BU enters the home weekend having won four of its last five matches. The Bulldogs went 2-1 last weekend with wins over Western Illinois and Indiana, then swept Wright State on the road this past Tuesday.
Last weekend's standouts were juniors Maggie Harbison and Claire Randich. The two Bulldogs were tabbed all-tournament at the Butler Invitational. Harbison led BU with 3.65 kills per set. She also had 2.91 digs and 0.91 blocks per set. Randich averaged 1.82 blocks and 2.18 kills per set and had a team-best .273 hitting percentage. Randich was also selected Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Week.
Butler is the top blocking team in the A-10, leading the conference with 3.02 stops per set. VCU, which is 9-1 on the year, is second at 2.66 blocks. The Bulldogs also are leading the conference in aces with 1.76 per set.
Harbison and sophomore Belle Obert are BU's offensive leaders, with each ranking among the A-10 league leaders in kills. Sophomore Erica Stahl is the Atlantic 10's leader in blocks, and along with Randich is among the team's best defensive players. In the back, Butler is led by liberos Jadyn Yarling and Brooke Ruffolo.
Friday's match vs. SEMO will be Math Day, with approximately 1,400 young children expected in attendance. This weekend is the last non-conference week for Butler, which opens its first season of A-10 play at Dayton and Xavier Sept. 21-22.
TWO TOURNAMENTS: This weekend will be Butler's second home tournament of the season, marking the first time BU has welcomed multiple teams into Hinkle since 1991. Butler hosted two tourneys per year from 1989-91.
ALL-TOURNEY DAWGS: Five different Bulldog players have been tabbed all-tournament over the season's first three weekends. Morgan Peterson was named MVP at DePaul and was all-tourney at Pittsburgh, while Maggie Harbison was recognized at Pitt and last weekend at Butler. Erica Stahl, Claire Randich and Belle Obert have each been recognized as all-tourney once.
BU OVER IU: Butler has won four of its last five, and perhaps the biggest win of that stretch is its 3-1 win over Indiana. Following a loss to Stephen F. Austin, BU bounced back to handily defeat the Hoosiers 25-18, 25-20, 15-25, 25-14. Maggie Harbison had 16 kills in the victory, which was Butler's first over Indiana since 1996.
BUTLER ON THE BLOCK: BU is leading the Atlantic 10 with 3.02 blocks per set. In 11 matches, Butler has had more blocks than its opponent 10 times. BU is 8-2 when winning the blocks battle. Butler owned a 35.5-18.0 advantage in blocks last weekend before out-blocking Wright State 8-1 on Tuesday.
BLOCK LEADER: Erica Stahl, a 6-4 Indy native who transferred to Butler from Cincinnati, leads the A-10 with 1.39 blocks per set. Stahl has posted 6+ blocks five times this season, including a season-high nine stops at IUPUI. She also made eight blocks vs. Coastal Carolina at Pitt.
5-SET THRILLERS: Butler is now 3-0 in matches that last five sets, claiming wins over DePaul, Coastal Carolina and IUPUI. The wins over DePaul and IUPUI were on the road and BU trailed 2-1 in each match. Butler led CCU 2-1 before hanging on to win in five sets.
GETTING BELLE BACK: Belle Obert has returned after missing three matches with an ankle injury. The sophomore from California was an all-tourney pick at DePaul and currently ranks 10th in the Atlantic 10 with 2.96. Obert is also 10th in the conference in points (3.56 per set).
BU ALL-TIME vs. THIS WEEKEND: Butler is 6-4 all-time against this weekend's three opponents. The Bulldogs are 3-2 vs. Kent State and SEMO. Butler won at Kent State in 2009. This weekend will be Butler's first meeting against UC-Davis.
SET AT SETTER: Morgan Peterson, a transfer from Middle Tennessee State, has been a big reason for Butler's 8-3 start. Peterson is averaging 9.69 assists and 2.57 digs per set at the setter spot. In her Butler debut, the 6-0 junior was named MVP at DePaul after posting 8.83 assists, 2.42 digs, 1.17 blocks and 1.08 kills per set. She was also tabbed all-tourney at Pitt and also had 53 assists and 15 digs in BU's 3-2 win at IUPUI.
LIBERO SOPHOMORES: Butler has two quality sophomores in the back on defense. Jadyn Yarling has started the majority of the time at libero. She had 17 digs in Tuesday's 3-0 win over Wright State. Ruffolo, a 2011 Horizon League All-Newcomer Team pick, averaged 4.44 digs per set last year.
YOU'VE BEEN SERVED: Butler leads the Atlantic 10 in aces with 1.49 per set. The serving attack has been balanced, as no BU player ranks in the top 10 in the conference in aces. Maggie Harbison leads the team with 0.32 aces per set.
LEAVING THE LEAGUE: The 2012 season is BU's first in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Butler went 34-14 during its last three Horizon League campaigns, and won the 2010 league tournament title. That includes a 13-3 record in 2010 and an 11-5 mark last year.