November 26, 2013

Volleyball to Face Top-Seed Marquette in BIG EAST Tournament

Match Notes

Twitter - @ButlerVB
Live Stats
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Weekend Schedule - DJ Sokol Arena (Omaha, Neb.)

Semifinals - Friday, Nov. 29
Match 1: No. 1 Marquette (15-1) vs. No. 4 Butler (11-5) - 5 p.m. ET
Match 2: No. 2 Creighton (12-4) vs. No. 3 Xavier (12-4) - 7:30 p.m. ET

Finals - Saturday, Nov. 30
Match 3: Match 1 winner vs. Match 2 winner - 6 p.m. ET

INDIANAPOLIS – The tournament schedule is set and the Bulldogs are ready for their first taste of postseason volleyball action as members of the BIG EAST conference. Butler earned the No. 4 seed and will therefore face No. 1 seed Marquette on Friday, Nov. 29. The match will begin at 5 p.m. EST.  

About Butler (24-7, 11-5 BIG EAST)
Head Coach Sharon Clark has guided the 2013 Butler volleyball team to a 24-7 overall record. 24 wins in a single-season is the most victories recorded by Clark during her head coaching career. Now in her 14th season, Clark recorded back-to-back 21 win seasons in 2009 and 2010, but has only reached the 20 win plateau one other time as a Bulldog (2003). Her best record as a head coach away from Hinkle Fieldhouse was a 21-11 season at UC Davis in 1996.

Butler's special season features a 17-2 record in three set matches and a 3-1 record when the match goes all five sets. The Bulldogs post a .500 record in four set matches at 4-4.

High attack percentages and blocking at the net makes Butler one of the best teams in the BIG EAST conference. The Bulldogs rank second in the conference with a team hitting percentage of .263 and they post the best opponent hitting percentage of any team at .156. They have been nationally ranked in the top 20 all year long in blocks per set as a team as they currently second in the BIG EAST at 2.99.

A group of Bulldogs protect the net on a nightly basis, but standout junior middle blocker Erica Stahl leads the team in the category with 151 total blocks which includes 133 assists and 18 solo. Stahl is joined by Belle Obert as the only BU players to pass the century mark. Obert is having a fantastic season with 117 blocks, a team-high 372 kills, 23 service aces and 227 digs.

Another do-it-all player in the Butler lineup is senior Morgan Peterson who enters the tournament with a team-high 1,067 assists to go along with 148 kills, 278 digs, 78 blocks and 19 service aces. Fellow senior Maggie Harbison has put her mark on the team with 181 kills, 98 blocks and a team-high 29 service aces.

Other Bulldogs to keep an eye on over the weekend includes Mary Striedl who posts 223 kills 283 digs, 54 blocks and 19 service aces, Brooke Ruffolo who leads the club in digs with 508, and Stephanie Kranda who provides Butler with another threat from the outside with 229 kills on the season.

Scouting Marquette (23-5, 15-1 BIG EAST)
The Golden Eagles nearly posted a perfect BIG EAST conference record by winning 15 of their 16 league matches. The lone blemish on the record came at Creighton on Oct. 13, making Marquette winners of 12-straight matches. A tough non-conference schedule prepared the Eagles for conference play as Marquette played four ranked teams early in the season. Despite losing all four games to ranked opponents, the Golden Eagles still swept through the BIG EAST conference to secure the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

The Marquette offensive attack is led by freshman Autumn Bailey who leads the team with 433 kills. Bailey posts an attack percentage of .280 while averaging 4.29 kills per set. Lindsey Gosh, Nele Barber and Meghan Niemann round out a talented starting unit that gives Marquette four players with 200 kills or more.

The centerpiece of the team is setter Elizabeth Koberstein who leads the group with 1,234 assists on the year (12.22 per set). Koberstein impacts the match in other ways as she also enters postseason play with 100 kills, 212 digs and 54 blocks.

Gosh and Bailey are the top two servers on the team with Gosh leading the way with 50 aces. Bailey comes into the weekend with 35 aces while also posting 303 digs and 46 blocks.

Match Recap vs. Marquette (Nov. 1)
Marquette fought off Butler 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. 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 during the match which kept the atmosphere tense.

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.

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.

Match Recap at Marquette (Nov. 23)
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.

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 at Marquette 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.

All-Time Series
Butler leads Marquette in the all-time series, entering the tournament with a 6-3 advantage. The Golden Eagles have won the last three meetings earning a 3-1 decision in all three victories. The first meeting between Butler and Marquette was played back during the 1987 season as Butler opened the series with a 1-0 lead after defeating the Golden Eagles at the DePaul Invitational 3-1.

2013 BIG EAST Volleyball Championship
The 2013 BIG EAST Volleyball Championship will be conducted Nov. 29-30 in Omaha, Neb. The 32nd annual championship will be hosted by Creighton University at D.J. Sokol Arena. The champion receives the league's automatic bid to the 64-team NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship.

DJ Sokol Arena (Omaha, Neb.)

Semifinals - Friday, Nov. 29

Match 1: No. 1 Marquette (15-1) vs. No. 4 Butler (11-5) - 5 p.m. ET

Match 2: No. 2 Creighton (12-4) vs. No. 3 Xavier (12-4) - 7:30 p.m. ET

Finals - Saturday, Nov. 30

Match 3: Match 1 winner vs. Match 2 winner - 6 p.m. ET

On the Attack
The Bulldogs posted the second highest hitting percentage in school history against St. John's on Oct. 5 going off for 40 kills in just 69 attempts to post a .507 attack percentage. The team only committed five hitting errors as they swept the Red Strom 3-0.

Butler's All-Time Best Records
Butler's record of 24-7 entering the tournament is the best overall record since the 1997 team went 28-7 under the guidance of Sharon Dingman. That year's team was just one win away from the all-time highest win mark of 29 which was set two times, once in 1988 (29-7) with Jona Braden as the head coach and the first time during the 1981 season (29-17) with Eugenia Kriebel at the helm.

Hit Em Where It Hurts
Erica Stahl and Stephanie Kranda post two of the highest single-season attack percentages in program history. Stahl enters the opening round of the BIG EAST Tournament with a .313 attack percentage placing her fourth all-time and Kranda's percentage of .301 is the seventh highest total.

Digging Out of Trouble
Junior libero Brooke Ruffolo recently became just the sixth player in Butler volleyball history to record 500 digs in a single-season.

Block Party
Erica Stahl has 133 block assists on the season putting her in a three-way tie for the third most block assists recorded at Butler in a single-season. Her total block count is now at 151 placing her seventh in that category.

Single-Season Second Place Streak
Butler nearly broke three team single-season team records this year as they enter the weekend ranked second in block assists (531), blocks (325.5) and attack percentage (.263).

BIG EAST Standings
1) ^*Marquette (24), 15-1 BIG EAST, 23-5 Overall
2) *Creighton (RV), 12-4 BIG EAST, 21-7 Overall
2) *Xavier, 12-4 BIG EAST, 21-10 Overall
3) *Butler, 11-5 BIG EAST, 24-7 Overall
5) Seton Hall, 7-9 BIG EAST, 16-15 Overall
6) St. John's, 5-11 BIG EAST, 16-16 Overall
7) Villanova, 4-12 BIG EAST, 12-17 Overall
8) Georgetown, 4-12 BIG EAST, 10-19 Overall
9) DePaul, 2-14 BIG EAST, 16-14 Overall
^ - BIG EAST Regular Season Champion
* - Denotes Clinched BIG EAST Tournament Berth

Team National Rankings
Aces Per Set – 80th, 1.36
Assists Per Set – 80th, 12.57
Blocks Per Set – 5th, 2.99
Digs Per Set – 45th, 16.35
Hitting % - 26th, .263
Kills Per Set – 56th, 13.70
Winning % - 30th, .774

Individual National Rankings
Aces Per Set: Maggie Harbison, 75th – 0.35
Assists Per Set: Morgan Peterson, 123rd – 9.97
Blocks Per Set: Erica Stahl, 20th – 1.39
Blocks Per Set: Maggie Harbison, 91st – 1.18
Blocks Per Set: Belle Obert, 157th – 1.07
Digs Per Set: Brooke Ruffolo, 60th – 4.75
Hitting Percentage: Erica Stahl, 171st - .313
Kills Per Set: Belle Obert, 133rd – 3.41
Points Per Set: Belle Obert, 76th – 4.24

NCAA Volleyball RPI
Butler moved to 41st in the most recent NCAA women's volleyball RPI poll (Nov.25). The BIG EAST has two teams listed in the top 25 with Marquette coming in at No. 10 and Creighton at No. 16.

BIG EAST Player of the Week Honors
Morgan Peterson – 10/7
Peterson helped the Bulldogs post a 3-0 record during the week with wins over No. 22 Creighton, St. John's and Seton Hall. The senior evenly distributed the ball with a team-high 95 assists, but she also contributed with 21 kills, 13 digs, six blocks and two service aces during the week.

Erica Stahl – 10/28
Stahl helped Butler record two conference wins to end the month of October by recording two double-double performances in wins over Seton Hall and St. John's. For the week, Stahl recorded 22 kills and 22 blocks while hitting at a .381 clip.

Double-Double Count
Belle Obert:
10 kills / 10 digs at Cincinnati
20 kills / 17 digs vs. IUPUI
14 kills / 11 digs vs. Eastern Kentucky
10 kills / 21 digs at Xavier (10/11)
13 kills / 12 digs at Creighton (10/20)
13 kills / 11 digs at DePaul (11/22)

Morgan Peterson:
40 assists / 10 digs vs. Morehead State
24 assists / 15 digs vs. Tennessee
56 assists / 18 digs vs. IUPUI
49 assists / 18 digs vs. Illinois State
34 assists / 12 digs vs. Toledo
41 assists / 12 digs vs. Xavier (9/27)
48 assists / 15 digs at Xavier (10/11)
46 assists / 11 digs vs. Marquette (11/1)
33 assists / 14 digs vs. Georgetown (11/15)
44 assists / 17 digs at DePaul (11/22)
43 assists / 22 digs at Marquette (11/23)

Erica Stahl:
12 kills / 11 blocks at Seton Hall (10/25)
10 kills / 11 blocks at St. John's (10/26)

Mary Striedl:
10 kills / 10 digs vs. Morehead State
10 kills / 13 digs vs. IUPUI
17 kills / 20 digs vs. Illinois State
11 kills / 22 digs at St. John's (10/26)

All-Tournament Team Selections
Cincinnati Invitational: Belle Obert (MVP), Morgan Peterson, Claire Randich
Arizona Classic: Belle Obert and Erica Stahl
Butler Invitational: Belle Obert and Brooke Ruffolo
Butler Classic: Morgan Peterson (MVP), Belle Obert, Erica Stahl

Up Next
The BIG EAST Conference Championship Match will be played on Saturday, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. The winner will represent the BIG EAST in the 2013 NCAA Division I Volleyball Tournament. The selection show for the 64-team bracket will take place on Sunday, Dec. 1 at 8:30 p.m. central. Players and fans can watch the pairings on ESPNU.