OMAHA, Neb. – The 2013 volleyball season came to a close on Friday afternoon as Butler dropped a 3-1 decision to No. 24 Marquette in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament (18-25, 25-14, 22-25, 16-25). The Bulldogs ended the year with an overall record of 24-8, their highest win total under the guidance of head coach Sharon Clark.
"We fought at times but our consistency wasn't there in each set," Clark stated. "You have to be clicking on all cylinders to beat the #1 team. My hats off to Marquette."
Belle Obert exploded for 18 kills on Friday, hitting at a .370 clip to lead Butler in a losing effort. The junior took 46 swings and only committed one error as she led all players with 22 points. Obert added five blocks, four digs and a service ace in the opening round of the tournament.
"Belle made the All-Tournament Team," Clark added. "She was phenomenal and played like the First Team Big East All-Conference player that she is."
The senior tandem of Maggie Harbison and Morgan Peterson finished the year with a strong effort as Peterson posted her 12th double-double of the season with 43 assists and 15 digs. Harbison hit .364 against Marquette with 10 kills, seven digs, three blocks and a service ace.
Erica Stahl and Stephanie Kranda were two other Bulldogs that impacted the match at DJ Sokol Arena. Stahl led the team defensively with seven blocks to go along with seven kills. Kranda was on the attack for Butler finishing the match with 10 kills.
Brooke Ruffolo, Mary Striedl and Jadyn Yarling all stepped up defensively for Butler in the back line. Ruffolo led the team with 16 digs. Striedl came up with seven and Yarling was involved with five.
Nele Barber was the top performer for Marquette against Butler as she tied Obert with a match-high 18 kills. Elizabeth Koberstein evenly distributed the ball with 49 assists and Julie Jeziorowski paced the defense with 29 digs.
Set one went to the Golden Eagles as the No. 1 seed jumped out to small lead in the opener, but held onto the advantage the entire way to go up 1-0. MU took a 4-3 lead and increased it to 8-3 with Autumn Bailey on the serve. A second Marquette run would move the score from 15-12 to 18-12 as Barber came alive to help increase the lead. Butler used two late timeouts, but the early scoring runs were too much as Marquette earned a 25-18 win.
Set two featured an incredible late scoring run by Butler as the Bulldogs blew out Marquette 25-14. A 4-0 run broke the 10-10 tie to give the Bulldogs some breathing room. Bailey would once again lead the charge for Marquette to move the score to 15-12, but BU would pull away by ending the set on a 10-2 run. Peterson and Harbison served for a majority of the time as Kranda moved the 'Dogs to set point. A yellow card was issued to the Marquette bench after the Kranda point and Peterson would quickly end the set with a kill from Stahl to pull even at 1-1.
The turning point of the match came in set three with the game tied 1-1. A service error from Butler broke a 20-20 tie and Barber doubled the lead with a kill from Bailey. Butler used a timeout facing the two point deficit and scored out of the break with an Obert kill. A second serving error down the stretch would hurt Butler's chances as the score once again favored Marquette by two points. Kranda kept BU alive, but Lindsey Gosh moved the action to set point and Bailey ended it moments later at 25-22.
The fourth and final set went to Marquette as the Butler offense hit a snag near the midway point. A 4-0 Marquette run fueled by Koberstein took the set to 15-10 and the game quickly moved to 17-11 after a media timeout. Clark used both of her timeouts to stop the momentum, but the strategy didn't come through as Meghan Niemann ended the match at 25-16.
The Bulldogs hit .201 in their last match of the season with 11.5 team blocks. There were 15 ties and 10 lead changes.