2011 Butler Volleyball
The First Serve
With five matches left in the regular season, a lot will be decided this weekend as the Butler women's volleyball team welcomes Valparaiso and UIC to Hinkle Fieldhouse. Valpo comes to Butler Friday, Oct. 28 and UIC will play the Dawgs on Senior Day Saturday afternoon.
Valparaiso and UIC find themselves tied for third in the league standings at 7-4. Butler is just one game back of them at 6-5. As the season moves into its final month, the standings and league tournament seedings will soon become clear. Butler can also mathematically clinch a tournament spot with one win this weekend.
The end of the season is not shaping up well for Valparaiso, which is currently in a stretch of six straight road matches. The Crusaders, who beat Butler back on Oct. 1, are coming off losses to Green bay and IUPUI. Valpo is led by Taylor Root, a libero who averages 5.25 digs per set. Valparaiso is among the best defensive teams in the conference, leading in opponent hitting percentage (.158) and digs (18.00).
Saturday's match vs. UIC will be Senior Day for the team's lone senior, Maureen Bamiro. The 6-foot-2 Bamiro, an all-league and all-region player last year, is currently in the Horizon League's top 10 in kills (10th), hitting percentage (7th) and blocks (10th). UIC, which defeated Butler in five sets back on Sept. 30, is led by Kelsey Safranek (4.33 kills per set) and Nicole Allgood (2.51 kills, 2.34 digs per set).
Butler is led in kills and digs, respectively, by freshman Kelly Kyle (2.89 kills) and Brooke Ruffolo (443 digs). Sophomore Maggie Harbison is third in the HL with 1.06 blocks per set, and the Bulldogs are second in the league in blocking (2.35 per set).
Following this weekend's matches, BU is at Green Bay on Nov. 3 and at Loyola on Nov. 5.
3-4-5-6: The difference between third place and sixth place in the Horizon League is only two games. Butler is in the middle at 6-5, with Green Bay sixth at 5-6. This weekend's results will play a large role in league tournament seeding. The top six teams in the league standings qualify for the Horizon League Volleyball Championship.
BU ALL-TIME vs. THIS WEEK: Butler and Valparaiso are meeting for the 36th time. Butler leads the all-time series 26-9. BU has won four of the last five against Valpo. The Bulldogs are 26-20 all-time against the Flames.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Brooke Ruffolo earned the league's defensive player of the week honor for the second time this season. Ruffolo averaged 5.43 digs in Butler's road wins at Cleveland State and Youngstown State. She was also player of the week on Sept. 12.
ALL-TOURNEY DAWGS: Four Bulldogs were named all-tournament during the three weekends of non-conference action. Maggie Harbison was tabbed all-tournament at Notre Dame and Maureen Bamiro was on the all-tourney team at Portland. Brooke Ruffolo and Kelly Kyle were each honored after standout performances in Butler's invite. Kyle averaged 3.90 kills per set during the event, while Ruffolo had 6.00 digs.
GETTING CLAIRE BACK: Claire Randich, a Horizon League all-newcomer pick last year, has been working her way past injury and back into the starting lineup. Randich has missed 10 matches this year, but she has played extensively in the last four matches.
CLAIRE'S HITTING: Claire Randich hit .512 (24-3-41) in BU's wins over Green Bay, Youngstown State and Cleveland State. She had eight kills in each of those matches.
BU HITS ON 21: Butler has won 21 matches in each of the last two seasons. That's the most in a 2-year span since 1996-97 (54 wins). BU went 21-14 in 2009 and 21-10 last year.
HOME SWEET HINKLE: The Bulldogs are 26-7 in their last 33 matches at Hinkle Fieldhouse, which dates back to 2009. BU was 9-0 at home in 2009 and 10-3 last season. Butler has won four of its last six at home.
CHAMPIONSHIP REMATCH: Friday's match vs. Valparaiso will be a meeting between last year's Horizon League finalists. The Bulldogs beat the Crusaders 3-0 in the tournament final to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
GET 'MO' BLOCKS: Maureen Bamiro, an All-Horizon League and All-Midwest Region last year, has moved into seventh on BU's all-time list with 434 total blocks. She needs 22 more stops to catch Chris DeWell for for sixth.
AND 'MO' OFFENSE: Maureen Bamiro has increased her offensive production as BU has won five of its last six matches. She is averaging 3.20 kills per set on .331 hitting. She hit .588 (10-0-17) at Cleveland State back on Oct. 15.
GINA'S MOVING UP: Gina Vera is now fifth on Butler's all-time list with 3,363 assists, recently passing current assistant coach Dana Daprile's career total of 3,320. She is more than 600 assists short of fourth.
AVCA HONORS: Jessica Wolfe, now on the coaching staff as a student assistant, is one of only two Bulldog players to become honorable mention AVCA All-American twice (Areal Bienemy, 2003-04). Maureen Bamiro was also selected All-Midwest Region by the coaches association last year.