INDIANAPOLIS – In its first Atlantic 10 home match, the Butler volleyball team showed it will be a force in the conference with a quick 3-0 rout of George Washington on Friday night.
Butler was clearly quicker all night, keeping balls off the floor while also controlling play at the net with superior blocking. Butler totaled 19.0 team blocks and hit .244 for the evening.
"We did a great job blocking. We were aggressive at the net and that showed early in the match," head coach Sharon Clark said. "We were able to maintain that. I'm proud of my team for that."
Junior Claire Randich led BU with nine total blocks, while sophomore Erica Stahl added eight. Sophomore Belle Obert led the Bulldogs with 16 kills on .438 hitting. Obert also had nine digs and seven blocks.
The Bulldogs hit .306 and had 8.5 team blocks in a dominant first set. With Kranda serving, BU jumped out to an early 5-1 lead and the first set was never close. GW (4-13, 1-2) would get to within 11-7 but would soon trail 15-8. After a block by Stahl and Kranda made it 20-12, GW called timeout. Two more blocks and two kills would finish the set 25-16 for Butler.
The second set was much different as the teams traded points early. Soon, the Colonials would lead 13-10. However, Butler would win six of the next seven points to go ahead 16-14. The two teams went back and forth until Butler got a kill, a block and an ace on consecutive points to go ahead 22-20. The Bulldogs would go on to survive the second set 25-22 to lead the match 2-0.
In the third set, Butler led 8-6 when it took command with a key 3-0 stretch keyed by two Obert kills. Later, a kill along the baseline by sophomore Brooke Ruffolo would give Butler a 15-10 lead heading into a timeout. BU would later lead 20-13 before George Washington scored three straight points to make it 20-16. At 24-23, GW staved off Butler's first match point with a kill by Kelsey Newman. It would only last a moment as an Obert kill and a block by Kranda and Stahl finished the set 26-24 and clinched the Butler sweep.
The victory was key for the Dawgs, who gained momentum after going 0-2 to open A-10 play last weekend. And winning the school's first Atlantic 10 home event was a milestone event.
"It's been a nice build-up all week," Clark said. "It was great for the team. We were ready to open up this match at home. We got out to a great start and that was great. Our goal is to focus on the game in front of us. We let go of last week after we got back and we focused on tonight."
The Bulldogs will continue their home weekend Saturday night vs. Duquesne at 7 p.m.