August 27-28 - Waco, Texas
Butler vs. SMU
Friday, Aug. 27 - 5 p.m. ET
Butler vs. Stephen F.
Saturday, Aug. 28 - 11 a.m. ET
Saturday, Aug. 28 - 8 p.m. ET
The First Serve
The Butler volleyball team opens the 2010 season against stiff competition at the Baylor University Classic in Waco, Texas. The Bulldogs will play three matches Aug. 27-28 against three teams that had winning records in 2009. BU’s season opener is Friday, Aug. 27 against SMU at 5 p.m. ET.
Following the season opener, the Dawgs will take on Stephen F. Austin and Baylor Saturday, Aug. 28. SFA and Baylor each won 24 matches a year ago, and the Bulldogs’ three opponents combined for a .657 winning percentage in 2009. The Baylor trip is the first of three consecutive tournament weekends for Butler. The team will travel to Arizona for three matches Sept. 3-4 and then host a tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse Sept. 10-11.
Butler last year enjoyed one of its finest seasons under 11th-year head coach Sharon Clark. The Bulldogs finished 21-14, the team’s most victories since 1997. The 21-win total was also the highest mark for Butler under Clark, as the previous high was in 2003 when the Dawgs went 20-12. Butler also went 9-0 at home last year and won one in-season tournament.
Butler is led by senior outside hitter Jessica Wolfe (4.01 kps), who became Butler volleyball’s second AVCA All-American last year. Wolfe, who led the Horizon League in kills and points, was also an All-Horizon League selection as well as AVCA All-Midwest Region.
Also returning are senior libero Katie Daprile and sophomore setter Gina Vera. Daprile had 556 digs last season and owns Butler’s top two single-season digs marks. She enters the season ranked sixth in school history in digs. Vera was a Horizon League All-Newcomer team pick after finishing second in the league with 10.79 assists per set.
Returning in the middle are senior Jalesa Lee and junior Maureen Bamiro. Lee hit .307 last year and was second on the team in blocking. Bamiro led the team and ranked fifth in the HL with 1.06 blocks per set.
Clark and the Butler staff were able to import a strong freshman class, featuring five freshmen. Maggie Harbison, Claire Randich and Tade Atanda are expected to contribute immediately, while the Dawgs will also feature newcomers Alli Norris and Maureen Nesbit. Additionally, Butler added transfer Casey Sines (Memphis), who will sit out this season due to injury.
Following the season-opening weekend at Baylor, Butler will play its home opener Tuesday, Aug. 31 vs. Marian.
DOGS HIT ON 21: Butler enjoyed one of its best seasons in years in 2009, winning more than 20 matches for the first time since 1997. 2009 was Sharon Clark’s best at BU; her 2003 team went 20-12
...AND GOT ALL 9 AT HOME: The Bulldogs finished a perfect 9-0 at home, including an 8-0 mark against Horizon League opponents. The Dogs won 27 sets in Hinkle last season while losing just nine.
WOLFE THE TOP DOG IN HL: Outside hitter Jessica Wolfe led the Horizon League in kills per set (4.01) and points per set (4.62). She also ranked fourth in aces (0.30). Her 4.01 kills rate finished as the eighth best season of hitting in school history. Wolfe was named all-tournament in three of Butler’s four tourneys, and was named Horizon League Offensive Player of the Week on September 7.
WOLFE REGIONALLY AND NATIONALLY: Not only was Jessica Wolfe prominent among the Horizon League leaders, the 6-2 outside hitter also garnered national attention. Wolfe was named AVCA All-Midwest Region and then capture honorable mention AVCA All-America honors. Nationally, Wolfe finished 47th in kills and 44th in points.
BUTLER IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS: BU finished the 2009 season ranked among the national leaders in three categories. The Dogs placed 43rd in kills (13.68), 42nd in digs (16.67) and 48th in assists (12.69)
COACHING MILESTONES FOR CLARK: Sharon Clark is likely to reach the record for volleyball coaching wins at Butler this season. Now in her 11th season at BU, Clark owns 156 wins, just 13 shy of Sharon Dingman’s (1992-99) record of 169. Last season, Butler’s 3-0 win over Alabama A&M on Homecoming was career victory No. 250 for Sharon Clark.
DAPRILE KEEPS DIGGING: Senior Katie Daprile has put togethers two of the most prolific digs seasons in school history. After posting a school record 541 digs in 2008, the libero recorded 556 digs last season. She ranked fifth in the Horizon League in digs (4.48) last season.
VERA SETTING IT UP: The setter on the other end of Butler’s attack success is sophomore Gina Vera, who was named to the league’s all-newcomer squad last season. The Joliet, Ill., native stood second in the Horizon League with 10.79 assists per set, and she finished 45th in the national assist rankings. Vera was named all-tournament at IPFW and Kent State last year.
BU vs. THIS WEEK’S OPPONENTS: Butler is 1-3 all-time against SMU, SFA and Baylor. The Bulldogs defeated SFA in 1991, only previous meeting between the two schools. Butler is 0-2 vs. Baylor and 0-1 vs. SMU.
LESTER TRYING ANOTHER SPORT: Susan Lester was a standout basketball player for BU the past four years, scoring 1,275 points and grabbing 781 rebounds. The all-league hoops player, now in grad school, is spending her fifth year playing volleyball. Coach Clark says she will see action as a utility player.
UP NEXT: Butler will play three matches at Arizona Sept. 3-4. BU opens against the host Wildcats before playing Cal State Bakersfield and Louisville.