Nov. 20, 2004
Second-seeded Butler had its run toward the Horizon League championship foiled in the semifinals by third-seeded Loyola, as the Ramblers scored a come-from-behind 23-30, 31-29, 30-23, 26-30, 15-11 win at the Beeghly Center on the Youngstown State campus. Senior Kali Carter posted a double-double of a team-high 19 kills and 19 digs in the match. Senior Areal Bienemy had 16 kills and junior Candice Washington added 13 on .455 hitting. Butler finishes the 2004 campaign with a record of 18-10, while Loyola improves to 21-8.
Saturday's match was the first of the tournament for the Bulldogs, who received a bye into the semifinals thanks to their 12-2 regular season league record. Loyola defeated No. 6 seed and defending tournament champion UW-Green Bay in Friday's quarterfinals. Nichol Amberg posted 26 kills and 21 digs for a 20-20 performance, while Hilary Stromath had 20 kills. Setter Lauren Holbrook totaled 72 assists and 18 digs, leading the Ramblers to .230 hitting.
In the deciding game, the teams split the first six points of the game before Loyola put together six of the next seven points to take a 9-4 lead. Butler got kills from Carter, Michelle DeGeeter and Krystal Hendrix on three of the next four points to pull within 10-7, but three straight points got the Ramblers to 13-7, a lead that managed to be too large in the race to 15. Both teams committed just one hitting error in the stanza, but Loyola capitalized with 12 kills on .478 hitting.
Butler opened the match with an impressive 30-23 win in game one. The Bulldogs used .400 hitting to tally 15 kills and forced the Ramblers into 11 hitting errors with a solid blocking effort. The trend carried through for most of the second game, as Butler led 28-21 after an Amberg service error. But Loyola mounted one last charge, winning ten of the next 11 points to claim a 31-29 win and send the match into the intermission tied at one.
Loyola got out to a 13-5 lead in the third game and held on for a 30-23 decision. In a well-played game, the teams combined for 32 kills and only 11 hitting errors. Facing elimination, the Bulldogs fought back for a hard-fought 30-26 win in game four. A Washington kill gave the Bulldogs an early 6-2 lead before Loyola slowly chipped away. A Stromath kill pulled the Ramblers within one at 20-19. An 8-3 Butler run gave the Bulldogs a 28-22 lead and put the game out of reach.
For the match, Butler hit .258 as senior setter Sara Gallagher handed out 51 assists. The Bulldogs also held an 11-5 blocking advantage in the match. Horizon League "Defensive Player of the Year" Megan Knightly had a team-high 22 digs, her 30th straight double-figure dig performance.
Loyola advances to Sunday's championship match against fourth-seeded Cleveland State, which defeated top-seeded UW-Milwaukee in the first semifinal match Saturday. The 1 p.m. match will be carried live on Comcast Cable channel 72 in Indianapolis.