Indianapolis, Ind. - Butler used a strong offensive performance in the early going before relying on a stifling defensive performance down the stretch in notching a 25-23, 25-21, 25-21 victory over Valparaiso in both squads Horizon League opener on Friday (Sept. 19) evening at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The Bulldogs improved to 11-2 on the year at 1-0 in conference play, while the Crusaders fell to 7-3 overall and 0-1 in the league.
Butler finished with 11 blocks in the match - including six in the final set of the night - while out-hitting Valpo .190 to .144.
The Bulldogs found themselves on the short end for much of the opening set. Valparaiso appeared to be in line to go up 1-0 in the match after working its way out to a seemingly comfortable 20-15 lead.
Butler would make sure that things got less enjoyable in a hurry, however, as two kills from both Wolfe and Allen and a block by Allen and Melody Austin brought the Bulldogs back to even at 20-20 before another knock down by Wolfe put Butler in front for the first time since 6-5 of the match.
The Crusaders kept things close in the ensuing points and had a chance to break set point at 24-23, but Kelsey Labrum drilled the deciding kill to give the Bulldogs the first game of the match.
Butler took an early lead in the second set and, after putting itself in front 8-7, never trailed throughout the remainder of the game. Wolfe and Allen each tallied three kills each, while seven service errors by Valpo would prove costly for the Crusaders in the set.
The two squads battled to an 11-11 deadlock following the break before the Bulldogs rode an 8-0 run - keyed by four block assists from Austin, three from Wolfe and one by Allen - out to an 18-11 advantage and built up an eight-point lead at 22-14. Valpo fought back, however, scoring six straight points to cut the deficit down to two, but a kill by Wolfe and a service ace by Katie Daprile sealed the match in favor of the Bulldogs.
Allen led the way on offense with 13 kills, while Wolfe hit a team-best .407 and added 11 kills. Austin finished with a career-best eight block assists in the match, while Wolfe's six tied her personal best.
Butler will have a week-long break from competition before continuing the league schedule at Milwaukee on Friday, Sept. 26.