INDIANAPOLIS – The Butler volleyball team picked up their eighth win of the season with a comeback victory over Illinois State in the first game of the Butler Invitational on Friday afternoon. The Bulldogs were down 2-0 at the break, but adjustments were made and the team came back to record an impressive 18-16 win in the fifth set to earn the victory (18-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-18, 18-16).
"I just told the team to stay steady, we just have to be steady and not give away so many points," Head Coach Sharon Clark explained. "We made too many errors in game one and ended up giving them points, but I must say Illinois State is a very good team, that's why they came in here at 6-1."
Morgan Peterson impacted the match in a variety of ways recording a match-high 49 assists, 18 digs and eight kills to just miss a triple-double performance.
"I thought Morgan did a really nice job throughout the match," Clark added. "She held the glue together and we have been needing that since Claire [Randich] has been out."
Outside hitter Mary Striedl was equally as impressive for Butler as she picked up her third double-double of the season with 20 digs and a season-high 17 kills.
"Mary Streidl was awesome today," Clark said. "She hit very well and impacted the match down the stretch."
Belle Obert and Kelly Kyle each recorded a double-figure kill total, helping the Bulldogs pull off the come from behind victory. Brooke Ruffolo was once again the defensive anchor with a season-high 29 digs and the Bulldogs used a team effort to record eight blocks.
Butler came out flat in the opening set as the Redbirds quickly jumped on top 6-1. Clark burned a timeout facing a 13-4 deficit, and Illinois State grabbed a 1-0 lead with a 25-18 win.
The second set also came with a slow start for the Bulldogs as they fell behind 4-1 before calling a timeout at 10-5. The timeout sparked a run as Butler tied the game at 11-11 and the match would stay tight up until a 3-0 run broke a 17-17 tie. The Redbirds held off one final Butler charge at 22-21 as Illinois State took a 2-0 lead into the break.
Striedl stepped up in set three to keep Butler alive as the sophomore led the team with six kills. The turning point in the match came after a 4-0 Butler run that took the score from 18 all to 22-18. Butler used a timeout to regroup with a 24-23 advantage and Kyle forced a fourth set with a kill.
Senior leadership helped Butler win the fourth set as Maggie Harbison got into the action. Harbison recorded five kills in the fourth set and it was her play that gave Butler the 25-18 win. The Bulldogs finally got off to a good start to open the set with a 3-0 lead. They never trailed in the fourth as Harbison and company moved the team to a fifth set.
"The senior leadership is what we need and both Morgan Peterson and Maggie Harbison stepped up and carried us in that way today," Clark stated. "Even when Maggie was hurt she stayed in there and she fought through it."
The deciding set was a highly entertaining one as Butler and Illinois State came down to the wire. Obert tied the match at 16-16 seconds after committing an attack error. Striedl moved the 'Dogs to match point and Peterson found her again for the game-winning kill.
The Bulldogs will return to the court tonight at 7 p.m. with a match against IPFW.