Butler def. Elon 25-12, 24-26, 25-22, 25-23
INDIANAPOLIS - In a back-and-forth battle to open the Butler Invitational, the Butler volleyball team looked to two freshmen for a steady force. Freshman libero Brooke Ruffolo posted 33 digs and fellow newcomer Kelly Kyle totaled 19 kills, 10 digs and four blocks to lead BU to a 3-1 win over Elon Friday afternoon.
Sophomore Maggie Harbison added 15 kills on .700 hitting and senior Maureen Bamiro had 13 kills on .333 hitting. As a team, Butler recorded a .294 hitting percentage and 9.0 team blocks. Junior Gina Vera dished out 51 assists, her best per-set average in a match this season.
"There was a lot of momentum changing. Game two was a tough one for us to lose and let them sneak in," head coach Sharon Clark said. "I'm proud of our team for coming through. The match was tight."
Butler dominated the first set, getting off to an 11-3 en route to a 25-12 set win. The Bulldogs continued to control the match in the second set, leading 19-12 when things started to turn in Elon's favor. An 8-1 Phoenix run, capped with a pair of service aces, tied the set 20-20.
A pair of Elon kills made it 22-21 and the the Phoenix got an ace from Traci Stewart to lead 23-22. Tied 24-24, Elon's Chanelle Smith swatted two kills to give Elon the set 26-24 and tie the match 1-1.
Butler would adjust to Smith's attacking and win the next two sets.
"She kept hitting sharp crosses," Ruffolo said. "We had to pull back and read her arms better. Once we were able to get her down, we were unstoppable."
Butler led in the third set 13-5, but Elon once again made a comeback. A Phoenix run forced a BU timeout at 14-13. At 20-19, Vera pushed a kill and Kyle had a kill to make it 22-19 and give Butler control. A kill by freshman Belle Obert finished the set and gave BU a 2-1 match lead.
The fourth set was tight, and Elon appeared to have control with a 15-9 lead heading into a timeout. Behind strong hitting by Harbison and Kyle, the Bulldogs crept back into the set to tie it at 20-20. The Dawgs scored the next two points to go up 22-20, but Elon answered with a pair to tie the set 22-22. Kyle then swatted kills in three of the last four points to clinch the set 25-23 and give BU the victory.
The match was played in front of a crowd of 1,140, highlighted by appoximately 950 school-aged children from around Indianapolis.
"The kids were great. Not only were they great at the beginning, but they kept that energy throughout," Clark said. "It was not only great to see them out there enjoying themselves, but it was a huge momentum swing for them to be cheering our girls on."
Butler will play Austin Peay tonight at 6 p.m. The Bulldogs will celebrate last season's league tournament championship with title banner unveiling in the gym. The team will also receive its championship rings.