2011 Butler Volleyball
Butler vs. North Dakota
Monday, Sept. 26 - 7 p.m. ET
Hinkle Fieldhouse - Indianapolis, Ind.
The First Serve
A strange week is on tap for the Butler volleyball team. The Bulldogs will play one league match this weekend on the road before coming home and playing a non-conference match Monday, Sept. 26. Butler is at Milwaukee Friday, Sept. 23 before hosting North Dakota State on Monday night.
Butler opened Horizon League play last weekend with a split against the northeast Ohio schools. Cleveland State swept the Bulldogs last Friday night but the Dawgs bounced back for a 3-0 win over Youngstown State the next day. After one weekend of play, Butler is one-half game out of third place behind Valparaiso. Milwaukee and Cleveland State each started 2-0.
Butler, which has come across a list of injuries and illnesses recently, is led by freshman Kelly Kyle and senior Maureen Bamiro. Kyle is seventh in the league with 3.04 kills per set and has been the team’s top offensive option. Bamiro, an all-league and all-region player, is averaging 2.85 kills and 0.87 blocks while hitting .287. Freshman Brooke Ruffolo is among the league leaders in digs at 3.68 per set and junior Gina Vera is in her third season as the starting setter.
Milwaukee, last year’s regular season champ in the Horizon League, is off to another fast start this season. The Panthers, who went a combined 5-1 at Arizona State and Drake early in the season, feature 2010 Horizon League Player of the Year Kerri Schuh. North Dakota State, a member of the Summit League, are 9-5 overall and list 11 players on its roster who are 5-10 or taller.
Butler’s contest vs. NDSU on Monday night is the team’s final non-conference match of the season. After playing the Bison, the Bulldogs return to league play at UIC and Valparaiso the following weekend.
2010’S TOP TEAMS: Butler and Milwaukee, who will meet for the 42nd time when they play on Friday night, were the top two teams in the Horizon League last year. Milwaukee (15-1) and Butler (13-3) split in the regular season last year and seemed to be on course to meet in the league tournament final. Valparaiso then upset the Panthers in the semis, and BU went on to win the league tourney.
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 after hitting .321 with 1.21 blocks per set and Maureen Bamiro was on the all-tourney team at Portland after averaging 1.14 blocks and 2.43 kills. 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.
DEFENSIVE POW: Back on Sept. 12, Brooke Ruffolo was the first Bulldog to claim a weekly award in 2011. She was named Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week after averaging 6.00 digs per set during the Butler Invitational.
TOP COMPETITION: Butler has once again fashioned a very challenging non-conference schedule. BU has faced Notre Dame, Portland, Texas A&M and Washington State. Notre Dame and Texas A&M are have at some point received votes in national polls.
BU ALL-TIME vs. THIS WEEK: Butler has an 18-23 record all-time vs. Milwaukee. The two teams have split the past six meeting 3-3 dating back to October 2008. Butler is 1-0 all-time vs. North Dakota State, owning a 3-0 win over NDSU in 2004.
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.
SINGLE-MATCH HIGHS: Gina Vera’s 45 assists against Austin Peay is the highest total in the Horizon League in a four-set match. Maggie Harbison hit .700 in a 3-1 win over Elon, the league’s best percentage in a four-set match.
GIVING ‘MO’ THIS YEAR: Maureen Bamiro, an All-Horizon League and All-Midwest Region last year, ranked in the Horizon League’s top 10 in three different categories last season. She was second in blocks (1.11) fifth in hitting (.289) and eighth in points (3.40).
FRESHMAN IMPACT: In addition to Kelly Kyle and Brooke Ruffolo, the young Bulldog team has seen two other freshmen play their way into the starting lineup. Belle Obert has started 11 matches this season and Stephanie Kranda has started seven times. BU has also gotten a steady defensive presence from another rookie in Jadyn Yarling.
AVCA HONORS: Jessica Wolfe, who has joined the coaching staff as a student assistant, finished her time at BU by capturing all-region and All-American status from the AVCA for the second straight year. Wolfe became only the second Bulldog player to become honorable mention All-American twice (Areal Bienemy, 2003-04). Maureen Bamiro was also selected all-region by the coaches association.
HITTING AND BLOCKING: Butler is currently third in the Horizon League in both hitting and blocking. BU is averaging 12.98 kills per set and 2.26 blocks per set. Milwaukee leads the league in both categories (13.78 kills, 2.31 blocks).
NEXT WEEK: After Butler’s home match against North Dakota State, the Dawgs will travel to UIC and Valparaiso Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.