MILWAUKEE – Butler ended the2013 regular season with a 3-1 setback at the Al McGuire Center as the Golden Eagles held off the Bulldogs 25-22, 23-25, 27-25, and 29-27. The intense battle between two tournament teams featured 15 lead changes and 38 ties.
The Bulldogs finish their first season in the BIG EAST with a 24-7 overall record which includes an 11-5 mark against conference opponents. They will be one of four teams to compete in the 2013 BIG EAST Championship tournament along with Marquette, Xavier and Creighton. Full tournament details will be available on ButlerSports.com early next week.
Butler's performance on Saturday night was impressive despite the loss. The Bulldogs hit at a .263 clip offensively and defensively the unit recorded 16.5 blocks. Extra points were needed in both the third and fourth set as the teams split sets one and two.
Senior Morgan Peterson was awesome against Marquette on Saturday night filling the stat sheet with 43 assists, 22 digs, six kills, five blocks and a service ace. The offensive unit was led by junior Belle Obert who recorded a team-high 18 kills and the defensive effort was split with Brooke Ruffolo picking up 17 digs and Erica Stahl controlling the net with 11 blocks.
Nele Barber and Autumn Bailey led Marquette to victory with 18 and 17 kills respectively. Barber hit .378 up the middle and Bailey added 13 digs for a double-double. Elizabeth Koberstein was also busy for the Eagles setting up her teammates 60 times to go along with 10 digs.
The opening set went to the home team as the Golden Eagles grabbed a 1-0 lead on senior night after a kill from Meghan Niemann. An early 6-5 advantage quickly turned into a 20-13 lead as the Bulldogs were forced to use a timeout to stop the scoring run. The 'Dogs showed a lot of character to get within two points at 23-21, but Bailey and Niemann were too much in crunch time as the 'Dogs fell 25-22.
Set two went to Butler as the Bulldogs tied the match at 1-1. Butler led for a majority of the set, but a Bailey service ace would get Marquette back within one at 23-22. Obert pushed Butler to set point, but the Eagles wouldn't go away as Koberstein recorded a kill to get back within one. The game-changer came on the next serve as Obert's kill hit the deck to get Butler on the scoreboard 25-23.
25 points wouldn't be enough in set three as the two teams fought to a 24-24 tie. Bailey gave Marquette a slim lead after the tie, but Stephanie Kranda would match that effort with a kill out of a Butler timeout. Attack errors shifted the momentum back to the home team as the Eagles took a 2-1 lead into the break with a 27-25 win.
The fourth and final set featured Marquette getting on top 17-12, but a Butler run would eventually knot the score at 20-20. The match looked like it was going to go to set five as Obert's kill pushed the score to 24-21, but Marquette countered to tie the game at 24-24 with three-straight points.
Obert would once again get Butler to set point, but the Eagles answered with a kill from Bailey. It was then Marquette putting the pressure on and they held a one-point advantage over the Bulldogs until match point at 28-27. Barber was the impact player of the set as her back-to-back kills ended the game to give Marquette the victory.