First Place Eagles Defeat Bulldogs 3-1

First Place Eagles Defeat Bulldogs 3-1
Mary Striedl

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Marquette fought off Butler on Friday night in a highly competitive BIG EAST matchup by the final score of 3-1 (24-26, 28-30, 27-25, 23-25). The entertaining match featured 35 ties and 12 lead changes. Butler moves to 5-4 in the BIG EAST with the loss while the Golden Eagles improve to 8-1.

The intensity of the match between Marquette and Butler was at an all-time high. Neither team was able to build a comfortable lead at any moment on Friday which kept the atmosphere tense.

"That's what it's all about," Head Coach Sharon Clark said. "Every day and every night should be just like that. Each team played point for point and had good stretches. That's the quality of playing in the BIG EAST. That's what it's like every night, but tonight Marquette was just able to get over that hump."

Mary Striedl led Butler with 14 kills and eight digs against the Golden Eagles while Stephanie Kranda and Maggie Harbison also reached a double figure kill total. The Bulldogs hit .288 as a team and recorded seven blocks, but it wasn't enough as Marquette posted an attack percentage of .339.

Nele Barber and Autumn Bailey led Marquette to victory by posting 23 and 22 kills respectively. Barber hit .392 and Bailey posted a .400 attack percentage.

"They are a great team, but we have a lot of great talent to match them and that's what made this a powerful match," Clark added. "Those balls were coming hard and fast which resulted in some kids getting hit."

Morgan Peterson recorded her eighth double-double of the season with 46 assists and 11 digs. The senior also chipped in with six kills, two service aces and two blocks. Other Bulldogs to impact the match included Brooke Ruffolo who led the team with 16 digs and Belle Obert who ended the night with 12 digs, nine kills and four blocks.

"I'm proud of my team for going out there and playing our brand of volleyball," Clark stated.

Each of the first three sets on Friday night were down to the wire and tied at 24-24. A service error from Butler in the opener put the team behind the eight ball, but Harbison came up huge with back-to-back kills to knot the score at 24-24. Marquette burned a timeout after the BU run and responded by scoring two-straight to take a 1-0 lead.

Neither team backed down in set two as the teams once again battled it out to the very end. Butler came back from a 24-20 deficit to tie the score off a kill from Striedl. The teams went back and forth up to 28-28, but a Butler attack error followed by a kill from Lindsey Gosh would give Marquette a 2-0 lead heading into the break.

With the third set once again tied at 24-24, the Golden Eagles used a timeout to set up their attack down the stretch. The strategy didn't work as Peterson recorded an ace after the pause to give Butler the one point lead. Marquette tied the game with a kill from Barber, but Kranda and Harbison would avoid the shutout as back-to-back kills extended the match.

The fourth set picked up with a tied score at 18-18. Marquette went on a 5-2 run to take a 23-20 lead and Butler used a timeout to stop the momentum. Kranda scored out of the break but Marquette would quickly get to match point off a kill from Bailey. The Bulldogs never quit as they forced Marquette into committing two errors, but a kill from Barber would end the night as her swing off the Elizabeth Koberstein assist would clinch the victory for the visitors.

Butler will return to action tomorrow night with a 7 p.m. match vs. DePaul. "We want to move on quickly and be able to pick up our line defense for DePaul coming in tomorrow," Clark said.