INDIANAPOLIS – The Butler volleyball team improved to 23-6 overall after sweeping Villanova on Saturday afternoon (25-20, 25-20, 26-24). The win gave Butler a 10-4 BIG EAST record with just two regular season matches left in the 2013 season.
Seniors Morgan Peterson and Maggie Harbison took the court in Hinkle Fieldhouse for the final time on Saturday as the two players along with Claire Randich were honored before the opening serve. Peterson played well against the Wildcats to record 29 assists, nine digs and five blocks. Harbison was also effective with a team-high six blocks to go with five kills.
Belle Obert just missed a double-double with nine kills and nine digs. Mary Striedl matched Obert's kill total with nine while adding seven digs and four blocks. Junior Erica Stahl rounded out the kill total with eight as she led the team with a .294 attack percentage.
Kristen Webb and Obert served aggressively against the Wildcats as each player ended the match with two service aces. Brooke Ruffolo was also an important part of the win for Butler as she finished the game with a team-high 12 digs.
Gabby Pethokoukis and Lauren Carpenter were the top performers for Villanova as each student-athlete recorded a double-figure kill total. Emma Pettit also played well with a match-high 30 assists and eight digs.
Butler hit .250 in the opening set compared to .128 from the visitors to take a 1-0 lead. The 'Dogs got to set point at 24-15, but the Wildcats never quit as they came back to get within four at 24-20. Mariah Henley led the charge for Nova with two service aces during the stretch, but Peterson would end that streak with a kill off a Ruffolo assist.
Set two was a rollercoaster from the very beginning as Butler opened up an 8-2 lead before Villanova called a timeout to stop the momentum. The strategy worked for Nova as the Wildcats rattled off the next 11 straight-points to grab a 13-8 lead. Kranda finally stopped the Claire Crutchfield serve with a kill from Peterson.
The turning point in set two came after a 4-0 Butler run as Obert came up with two service aces to give the Bulldogs some breathing room. Attack errors hurt Villanova down the stretch and the high level of play from Kranda ended set two at 25-20.
An extra point was needed in the finale as Butler pulled out a 26-24 win to earn the sweep. Butler led by 2-3 points for a majority of the set, but back-to-back kills from Pethokoukis would tie the match at 23-23. Butler called a timeout and scored out of the break with a kill from Kranda. A service error would follow to once again tie the game.
With the score tied at 24-24 it was the Butler defense that rose to the challenge as Stahl and Peterson teamed up to block the Carpenter attack. The final play was for fitting for Senior Day as Peterson came up with the game-winner off a bump from Striedl.
Butler will return to action with a road match at DePaul on Friday, Nov. 22. The regular season will come to a close the following day with a match at Marquette.